November 15, 2011

Just got back from our first North East Regional Folk Alliance conference in upstate New York, and it was a truly inspiring and life affirming experience.  So many extraordinarily talented folk artists in one place – with performances throughout the day and into the wee hours of the morning – in big theatres and tiny hotel rooms.  Every morning I would wake up after four hours of sleep, and not because of my alarm, but because I had folk songs writing themselves in my head, and not Whispering Tree – style folk, but straight-up FOLK.  Very interesting, and very cool.  Thinking about songwriting in this style seems to have opened up a whole lot of new possibilities as far as subject matter and lyrics go.  I still haven’t taken the plunge and followed the many song trails to completion, but I feel like it’s still all working itself out in my head.

One of these folky songs which seems to be writing itself is about a story my aunt told me a few years ago, which I had never considered writing a song about before.  She was on a cruise ship with my grandfather, a Polish Jew who fled Poland during the war and joined the Royal Air Force when he was 17.  Anyway, they’re on this cruise ship eating dinner with a group of people they’d just met.  Somehow in conversation it comes out that one of the women at the table was from Germany and was in Dresden when the bombs were dropped, and my grandfather says something to the effect of, “I dropped the bombs on Dresden.”

My aunt said everyone else at the table was kind of stunned, but my grandfather and this woman were all very matter-of-fact about the whole thing…and there’s something so poignant about that scene for me.  Can’t quite wrap my mind around it, but hopefully I will be able to communicate it in song-form far more eloquently than I can with words alone.

Something about how the past really means nothing, no matter how traumatic, wide-spread or life altering it was.  Something about people of that generation reaching the end of their lives and how beautiful it is that they can look back without hatred or sadness.  Something about how so much falls under the blanket of “war,” about how no one is held responsible for what they do – because it’s WAR…and how, in a way, they really aren’t responsible for what they do, because THEY aren’t really  there.

I’m not sure if I’m conveying exactly what I’m trying to – let’s hope the song turns out better!

Another side effect of NERFA is that I’m dying to get into the studio again and put out some new(er) material.  We’ve got enough finished songs for an amazing EP – so I’m not sure of the logistics just yet, but I’m going to make that happen ASAP.