The leading track on my first recorded album starts with a simple, universal image: the smiley face – yes, the one that Forrest Gump allegedly created by wiping his muddy face on a yellow t-shirt. Silliness aside, the first few lines go like this:
Two dark circles form the eyes of a smiley face
The universal symbol of happiness contains
Those melancholy eyes…
And yet, it’s still a smiley face
For me this image that something so simple and seemingly direct in its message could contain a darker, quieter, perhaps even more mysterious side intrigues me. I think it actually is more in tune with the smile on a human face, than we often recognize. The Digging Out Diaries EP, due for release April 17, gives a small glimpse of the aural landscape of my smiling face over the last 12 months. Like the smiley face, I have a hunch that the thoughts and emotions expressed in my music tap into a more universal hub of living experiences, which, after all, is what makes music speak to us.
I believe that music has the power to cross barriers that we as humans build up because of a couple of essential survival mechanisms. First, I think that in times of darkness, we feel alone. While solitude can be a source of peace and renewal, I don’t think that the majority of humans were made for continual solace. If a song intimates a feeling that someone else in the world – and it doesn’t matter who – has also felt alone, I believe that at that moment a song can transcend the barriers of isolation that we submit ourselves to, even on an unconscious level.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, I think that sometimes we live as if we’re the only ones that don’t have all the answers. I feel this way all the time. “Why did I let that happen?” Or, “why didn’t I see that coming?” Or, better yet, “Why does it feel like I’m the last person on earth to find this out?” This could be as trivial as an event or as large as a major breakthrough in understanding why we’re here on this earth. Where did we get the idea that in order to be adults – responsible, independent and self-sufficient adults – we have to have all the answers? I’m still searching for that still, but moving moment in my life, when my reality switched from carefree to care-full.
Part of why I love each of the songs on my EP is that they each speak to a different area of my life, as a so-called adult, that has baffled me. In Alive, I’m speaking to the cycle of giving in to depression, and the darkness that can eat at you. In Rogue in Porcelain, I’m speaking to the rogue within me that wants to be free, but that I continually inhibit from living, through my “porcelain” existence.
In The Human Condition, I’m speaking to that very idea that it’s okay to not have all the answers – that it’s okay to simply be in this world and the moments that make up our consciousness. And, finally, and perhaps most importantly, in Alleluia, I’m speaking to a blessed way of living, where, even when I don’t have the answers and even when I don’t feel particularly spiritual, I know in my head that my Redeemer is real, moving and working through every experience I encounter. Through the act of singing Alleluia, that head knowledge seems to ebb and flow ever so subtly into my heart and spirit.
To hear songs from the album, visit ReverbNation.com/VirginiaStreet. Hope to see everyone out at the release concert and party at Space 227 on Tuesday, April 17 at 7 p.m. I’ll be performing the songs from the EP, in addition to a few new songs, a few old ones and a few new folk ones!