New Beginnings (#50/90 #poem #lyrics)

Yes, it’s the 4th of July, Independence Day for the U.S. but also the first day of 50/90 (the write 50 songs in 90 days challenge). And so a poem came to mind during the night, raw, for sure, but, inspired by “The Making of Frozen II” on Disney Plus, I post it as part of the process of 50/90.

New Beginnings

Surrender the old
Trust in the beginning
Embracing the new
In spite of the blues
These words to the wise
My fears not disguised

This time feels different
Body older and fragile
Relying on me no longer
My spirit is stronger
The old self-reliance
Becomes a castle of silence

My heart beats a longing
For what I know not
Showing up and suited
Desire deeply rooted
Stories and sounds on keyboards I write
What the muse whispers to me in the night

Gearing up for 50/90

Fifty-ninety begins July 4th and lasts through September 30. The challenge is to create 50 songs in 90 days. I think it will be an awesome way to focus.

Yesterday, I posted on my travel blog some thoughts about my childhood and how when we visited my step dad’s family in California’s Central Valley, I would leave the women behind in the living room talking about babies to sit with the men on the front porch talking trash about drinking, the neighbors, and other stuff I can’t remember while making home-made ice cream.

Anyway, that got me to thinking about how hanging out with musicians in places like FAWM and 50/90 and Sonic Academy is like hanging out with the guys on the front porch. While there are women there, the majority are men. And that’s more than okay.

I also notice that when I’m involved in podcasts and live videos in these communities, we focus on the music. Nothing else exists other than a passing comment about having more time to create music. There’s no politics. And it’s so refreshing.

So I’m thinking that maybe if I focus on the next 90 days, that when it’s over, all of this might be over. Or in a better place than where we are now. And if not, October brings Rocktober and November brings National Solo Album Month (NaSoAlMo), the music version of NaNoWriMo (instead of writing a novel in a month, you write an album). Maybe *then* it will be over. If not, then there’s Christmas and New Year’s and then maybe it will be over or mostly over in 2021.

 

Discovering Sound Design

(This may be repetitive for those who have read this blog for some time, but in a nutshell, this is the background to my music journey.)

I’ve always loved singing – even from a young age. My mother tells the story of me, smudge on cheek, sitting on the front porch singing with my step dad while he played guitar – me having no idea what the lyrics were to the song. Later, I performed in the school choir and sang as a soloist. I played an electric organ I got for my 7th birthday. Later, I moved on to piano and when groups like the Beatles were all the rage, I even played a few chords on the guitar.

I was stumped by three things.

Being told:

  • You have a great ear for music
  • Your writing is poetic, almost lyrical in rhythm

The first one was said by my school music teacher and later, my vocal coach in Las Vegas (he appeared in Mamma Mia), and the second was my literary agent when she signed me for Real Women Wear Red.

Thinking:

  • My favorite words in 1st Grade were “said” and “David”
  • My favorite songs had stripper-like drums

Later, when I met my father, he said “All my kids play the drums” and then it all fell into place. That explained some of my favorite songs, and, of course, the “d” in those words sounded like a drum – lol!

I also discovered my grandmother wrote poetry. Ah… I started putting it all together, pursuing songwriting and got a new music keyboard. But something wasn’t quite coming together. Then, as I started studying music production, first GarageBand, then LogicPro, and now Ableton Live, I realized how much I loved “sound” – it’s something more than just music.

I recently purchased Kick2 and Ana2 from Sonic Academy, learning deeper levels of sound design. And I absolutely love it! This is so bringing me out of the doldrums this weird time in our world has brought to us.

This also brings up questions, such as:

  • Should I do 50/90 this year?
  • Will I renew my TAXI A&R membership?

Neither seem all that focused on the kind of music and/or sounds I’m creating. Perhaps it’s time to reassess my goals.

Good Days, Bad Days

My last post headlined, “In the Midst of Chaos, Create.” That was a good day.

Today I’m stumped about what to create. I pull open my wip, make a couple of edits and then lose all interest in the story. Maybe because it’s the third in the “Real Women” series set on a cruise ship. Cruise ships remind me of “The Bob” or “Covid-19” if you must.

I open the Logic Pro X 10.5 update playlist, thinking maybe I can learn more on this update and create some music. My brain shuts down.

Today is a bad day. I can’t wrap my head around what is happening. Like most of you, I’m impatient for the return to “normal.” But Disneyland still isn’t setting real opening dates. Knott’s Berry Farm isn’t opening. I read headlines about the Berlin club scene in serious threat of demise.

I’ve never been one for large crowds or people crowding in my space, but many of my favorite activities are in areas with crowds. Cruise ships, Disney parks. Dance clubs (well, not recently – lol).

I’m also a planner, but how can you plan anything when you have no idea what will be open or what it will look like.

This may all seem rather insignificant, but the truth is, I already struggle with depression. Besides, my Faith, which only this weekend will I be attending my church (yes, I got a “reservation.”), these are the little things that make me happy. The little trips and planning of trips my husband and I do together.

Like my annual birthday dinner at Napa Rose at Disneyland Resort. Unfortunately, it will not be open in time for my birthday. So, yes, I’m feeling more depressed than normal. It’s situational. And situational is more difficult to overcome when the situation isn’t quite right.

Usually, I can lose myself in writing or music or planning or dreaming. But this is a bad day. A bad day is when I can’t get lost in the writing or music because I’m all too aware of what’s going on out there.

But I am reminded of “Wishin’ and Hopin,” a song from my childhood, back when I thought this was what life was all about – lol! It makes me smile, though, so I guess this is a good day after all. 🙂

 

Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon, the Book, the Poem, the Tour, and Now the Song (#FAWM)

You may recall that I’d just finished a publicity tour for my psychological suspense novel, Deja Vu at the Blue Diamond Saloon at the end of 2019 before starting FAWM on February 1st. Well, during the tour, I’d written a poem about the book here.

So, naturally, I turned that into a song for FAWM 2020. Check it out. I hope you like it – the song, poem, the tour, and the book. 🙂

Wings of an Eagle (#poem #lyrics)

My head silently screams through the night
When the long-awaited answer is nearly in sight
Wings of an eagle flap, ready to take flight

Nowhere to go, I must now stay
Running was the thing of another day
Understanding when absent, intuition leads the way

I must not fear, sleeping under God’s wings
The storyteller prays as the choir now sings
Artists and monks the truth must bring

Wings of an eagle carry the message
Laser-focused eyes encompass the ledge
Save me from falling teetering on the edge

 

Remember When (#poem) (#lyrics) (#50/90)

Big problem haunting me
is now resolved
Not feeling excitement
but relief
Sneaking in day by day
can barely celebrate
Searching for the home I
vaguely recall

This is how this chapter
ends then
From a caterpillar
to a butterfly
Leaving behind that life
I know not why
Forever recall with
“remember when”

Remember when his breath smelled good
First beer, first kiss out in the woods
Remember when the grease smelled nice
Flipping burgers on a Friday night
First job, first car was “Out-a-sight”
Remember when
The way it was back then

Now I ask
oh where is home
Now that the old one
has fled and gone
To be content I must
cease to long
From here on out am I
called to roam?

Remember when his breath smelled good
First beer, first kiss out in the woods
Remember when the grease smelled nice
Flipping burgers on a Friday night
First job, first car was “out-a-sight”
Remember when
The way it was back then

I hear a song
writing in my head
In that moment
I am always home
Memories are close
I record on my phone
And thumb through photos
to remember when

Remember when his breath smelled good
First beer, first kiss out in the woods
Remember when the grease smelled nice
Flipping burgers on a Friday night
First job, first car was “Out-a-sight”
Remember when
The way it was back then

 

True Grit (#lyrics #poem #50/90)

Watching the remake of “True Grit”
For the first time after I met him
I thought of my father known as John Wayne
Named after his hero, he lived up to it

I sat next to him in English class
He told me he saw me with a man like that
Years later I see what he saw that in me
I knew who I was when I put down my mask

True Grit not taken lightly
Reputation, integrity at stake
Trustworthy and strong, reliability
Doing all things for God’s sake

I write my songs so differently
Listening to the beat of a different drum
Wandering back to where I come from
On the road of discovering my identity

True Grit not taken lightly
Reputation, integrity at stake
Trustworthy and strong, reliability
Doing all things for God’s sake

Remembering when true grit was part of life
Our heros loved Real Women
Not lingerie models once hidden
But respect and honor and prayers at night

True Grit not taken lightly
Reputation, integrity at stake
Trustworthy and strong, reliability
Doing all things for God’s sake

Dig in and Hold On (#lyrics #poem #50/90)

Fifty Ninety (50 songs in 90 days) is starting in a couple of days so it’s time to start writing poems in more of a song form for potential songs.

I’ve been quiet for too long
Sitting at the library reading those books
Writing in my diary dodging those looks
Gotta show ‘em who I am
Show ‘em what I’ve got
Not gotta lie down, I’m way too strong

Stomp, stomp, scream and shout
Let your inner diva out

Dig in and hold on
It’s time to make some noise
Stuck in my head for way too long
Pedal to the medal, come on, girls, let’s race some boys

I dug out old photographs of my old boyfriends
The ones he “made” me throw away
Instead I hid them along with my dignity
Jonesing for a second chance
now he’s down and out
Begging for some money I could lend no doubt

Stomp, stomp, scream and shout
Let your inner diva out

Dig in and hold on
It’s time to make some noise
Stuck in my head for way too long
Pedal to the medal, come on, girls, let’s race some boys

Not gonna feel guilty
He had more than a second chance
Running through women, drugs, and money
Laughing like the truth was so funny

Stomp, stomp, scream and shout
Let your inner diva out

Dig in and hold on
It’s time to make some noise
Stuck in my head for way too long
Pedal to the medal, come on, girls, let’s race some boys

Stomp, stomp, scream and shout
Let your inner diva out

Dig in and hold on
It’s time to make some noise
Stuck in my head for way too long
Pedal to the medal, come on, girls, let’s race some boys

The Father’s Blessing (#poem)

So easy to deny in a world full of pride
That need deep inside
Surrounded by those with an agenda I suppose
Embracing the eternal lie

Evil is clever putting on the glitz and black leather
Serving up the kool-aid
No father, no problem, any man will do
Trading sex in a false love’s chase

Lost souls are hurting, their wounds are piercing, accusing others of hating in their tirade
Kill the messenger they say and nothing has changed
Subvert the true plan by subverting true nature leaving behind ashes from the flames

When you look closer you can’t miss the answer
Seeking men for pleasure is not your desire
When the father’s blessing is missing, the heart is listening to the fire
Instead of the water that quenches the thirst, surrendering to the true cure

A Yellow Haze (#poem)

A yellow haze seeps across my brain
Like the L.A. smog bringing tears to my eyes in an afternoon classroom
Thoughts are frozen but only on the outside
Inside there’s a riot, prisoners banging on walls to escape

Why didn’t I know life was about tension and release?
Why was life’s meaning so hidden from me?
Was it to protect or a form of neglect?
Too late now to consider what I believe

Answers are coming but as slow as honey
Each is stretching my abilities so humble
Like a rubber band, pliable in small doses
Stretch too far and it will snap and crumble

L.A. Nights Book Trailer is Live

Story and Music by Kathy Holmes

I love making book trailers, using visuals and making my own music to give a peek into a story I also wrote. L.A. Nights is available as a standalone short story or as part of the Cougars in Cabo anthology. For more information, see SHORT STORIES under the BOOKS menu.

Tequila, Take Me Home

I wrote this song when we were living in Florida. We were having lunch at La Fiesta, the most Southern California Mexican restaurant in the New Smyrna Beach/Daytona area and I was soaking up the atmosphere, the Mexican music, and the “Mexican Margarita,” as they called it. It was my favorite, if not a bit strong.

A Native Californian, I was so homesick for the West Coast so I took a drink and said, “Tequila, Take Me Home.” That became a song.

So when Taxi A&R had a listing for “drinking songs,” I submitted it. Well, it was not forwarded. But after last night’s episode where they played many of the submissions and we got to vote +1 or -1 as to whether we thought it should be forwarded, I realized my mistake. It was not a “drinking song” in the real meaning of that. It was more of a homesick song – lol!

I have a couple of other drinking songs that would have been more appropriate but they need some work. But it might be good to do the work now because you never know when they might just have another call for that kind of song.

I Freakin’ Love Music Production

So I started my Silicon Valley career in book production working for San Francisco publishers and printers before I segued to high tech companies in San Jose. Unfortunately, production departments were eventually incorporated into technical writing so I was forced to do both. But I’ve always had a thing for production. And now it’s music production.

You know how you can’t seem to avoid people on Facebook who follow some site called “I freakin’ love science” (to put it nicely). Well, I freakin’ love music production. I can’t resist watching videos of music producers working in their studios. Oh, yeah, Loopcloud isn’t bad either.

Check out this video about the latest version of Loopcloud.

Heavenly Holmes Band (Musical Family Story and Testimony)

I grew up up without knowing my father or my father’s family. It’s complicated. But my maternal grandmother was a staunch Jehovah’s Witness and my father’s family were Baptists and she wasn’t about to hand me over to the Baptists. How ironic I should become Catholic. 🙂

Anyway, when I came into contact with my father and his family in my 40s, my Uncle Don said:

“Now that you know you’re a Holmes, you’re going to want to pay attention to music.”

And he began to tell me the family stories and the talents of the family I had never known.

Along about the same time, my literary agent said:

“Your writing has a poetic, almost lyrical rhythm to it.”

What did that mean? Poetic? Me? Lyrical? Really? But I had heard that my paternal grandmother wrote poetry and my grandfather was a musician, so I started to look at my love of music and this lyrical rhythm I apparently had to see what I might do about it. That was the beginning of my serious pursuit of music, including songwriting.

As the story goes, my great grandfather made musical instruments and, of course, then, he could play all of them. My grandfather played the keys and sang in a band (besides, being a pitcher for the Memphis Chicks), my uncles and dad either sang and/or played various instruments, from guitar to drums to bass to the keyboard.

In school, I’d heard that I had a musical ear. My vocal coach in Las Vegas (who had appeared in Mamma Mia on stage), said I had a great ear for music. Anyway, back to music in school, I sang in the choir, solo’d and played the organ, piano, guitar, and violin in fits and starts. The constant for me was singing – that was my favorite part. And as a modern musician, I’ve discovered that, like great grandpa, I love to arrange an assortment of instruments through music production – I absolutely love that!

All of that family except for one younger uncle are gone now so I like to think that some day I’ll play and sing with the Heavenly Holmes Band. (For more about Uncle Ron’s musical talent, check out his obituary).

Listening to Travis Greene this afternoon, I’m calling on the Heavenly Holmes Band to be my prayer warriors and all play and sing this song together:

 

 

When the Muse Calls…

So much for all of that bravado about how music always trumps writing fiction. Ha!

Here’s what happened… I had an amazing songwriting day yesterday. I couldn’t wait to hit the studio this morning and start banging out more songs. I did a little keyboard practice. I did some vocal warmup. And then I listened to yesterday’s song. It sucked! I got scared. I felt so intimidated. The imposter syndrome struck. So what’s a girl to do?

Pull out my favorite manuscript in progress and start writing? That’s what stopped me the day before, when I decided I should focus on music – not writing. So I pulled up a different manuscript. Perhaps the muse wants me to work on that one today.

Okay, so maybe I won’t really know who wins until I’ve done enough work that something crosses the finish line. Maybe that’s how the muse works and I should just obey the muse when it strikes.

How about you?

Music vs. Fiction: Music Always Wins #amwriting #songwriting

January has just begun and already I’m in trouble. Choosing to focus on writing and music, I realize I must designate one as the priority because both of them take enormous skill and time and focus to succeed. Sure, I can pursue both, but I must choose which will be number one in my life. I keep returning to this truth for me.

Music always wins. And now I have a separate designated studio in my home, which is great because then the cats can’t chew the wires. 🙂

But songwriting still counts as writing, right? Will that be enough or will I have to fit in fiction, too? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Besides, I can always write fiction during breaks from music because you always need breaks, right? But there are just so many pieces to a song, including vocal warmups, as Shelly Peiken writes about in her latest blog post here.

 

 

Ode to Cecilia (#poem)

Stories of California Missions and Father Junipero Serra
Disneyland fireworks from our childhood era
Beach Boys and Beatles and Screamie Birds groupies
Cecilia and I sang “Hang on Sloopy”

From “sexy scientist” to Las Vegas beautician
She called herself “CeeCee” following her ambition
Sitting next to Alan at the sixth grade spelling bee
On stage I saw green but he was mine, she reassured me

“Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart”
Paul Simon sang years later and many miles apart
About a Patroness for poets, novelists, and musicians
Discovering decades later, it was a year after my audition

Hiding in plain sight God touched my soul
He sent priests and musicians and witnesses and moles
Pursuing me relentlessly for as long as it took
Saint Cecilia leading me to sing and write the book

My Father’s House (#poem)

I slept at my father’s house
But I never saw him at Christmas
How did he decorate with his spouse?
His favorite carols I did not hear or witness
For wanting more, am I such a louse?

He drank coffee at the kitchen table
Reading the morning paper with jam on his chin
I ate his food and listened to fables
He showed me the mountains I would never see again
But nothing more, of that he was not able

No Christmas gifts for me under the tree
No cookies for Santa or Scotch in a glass
Did he celebrate Christmas morning or Christmas Eve?
Or swim in his pool surrounded by grass?
One year I was invited but she did not want me

I slept at my father’s house
For two nights or maybe it was three
High on a mountain away from the lights of town
Why was I a secret, why couldn’t he introduce me?
Was it the other daughter, did she have a breakdown?

So many questions, but the answers are barren
John Wayne was his hero, this I do know
I knocked and I knocked, but I was not let in
The time that we had was something we’d borrowed
Now that he’s gone I sing with the night heron
And the empty space in my heart brings such sorrow

The November Unplugging Experiment

I managed to unplug from social media and blogging for the month of November but I’m not quite sure of the results. Perhaps it’s too soon. But I can say I did more reading, took more classes in electronic music production, learned more songs on my music keyboard, and wrote more lyrics by unplugging.

December finds me halfway across the country in another cross-country move. The new house will give me a casita for a dedicated music studio, which I’m very excited about. This reinforces my belief that I’m supposed to be focusing on music at this stage of my life. I’m certainly being equipped. Now it’s up to me to do the work.

There’s so much more I long to learn and do and accomplish when it comes to music. I’m hungry for it. I’ve got so much lost time to make up for by neglecting it for so many years. I urge you to never give up pursuing your art. But there’s a specific time for everything. Perhaps only now am I ready for this.

And thinking now about how all of you reading this blog and I are connecting in some artistic way inspires me more than I can say.