Documentary Inspiration: Sound City

You know what I love? Being inspired. It’s like a fire being lit inside of me, and I just go crazy. 

I’ve had it on my ‘to do’ list for quite awhile, but Monday I finally got around to watching Sound City.

My childhood is kind of a blur. There isn’t all that much that sticks out in my mind. I have musical memories, though. My favorite band as a kid was The Beach Boys. When we went on vacation, I remember being squished between my sister and brother in the back seat, with one CD player that we took turns listening to. I had a few options, but I most often chose Queen. Not because I liked Queen (although I did sing their songs all of the time, so I must have), but because it was the longest CD we owned and I wanted to make my brother wait. 

I remember having my older cousin over one day and asking her what kind of music she liked, and she responded that she didn’t like music. I remember being stunned into silence. 

After a very short stint in late elementary school listening to Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, The Backstreet Boys and N*sync (did I do that right?), my musical tastes were pretty much locked in. 

We were leaving Washington D.C., and stuck in horrendous traffic. At this point, I think my brother and I had each our own CD players. I believe that I was 10 or 11, and he was 17. He recommended CD’s out of his case for me to listen to. 

Nirvana, Everclear, Lit, Smash Mouth, and many other bands filled my ears, and I became insatiable. Growing up wanting to go to concerts all of the time (especially when they were all 3+ hours away) became tiresome for my parents. I always made sure to tell my mom to blame my brother for my “obsession” with music. 

And it wasn’t long after that that I decided I wanted to make a career in it, somehow. I took guitar lessons, attempted to teach myself to play the drums, and dabbled with the piano, too. I wrote songs at that age that now make me cringe. 

It’s a hard road. No one can be sure of themselves all of the time. I’ve still yet been unable to find myself a steadily-paying gig in the industry, but that hasn’t stopped me from working feverishly at it. 

Over time, though, I find myself getting more and more disgruntled. At one point, someone tried to get me into Pro Tools and Garage Band and I just hated it. I didn’t want to use technology as a crutch for making music. I only like music that comes from the soul. I don’t like “perfect” music. Nobody is perfect, so how is music supposed to be perfect if it’s a reflection of the soul? Is your soul perfect? I think not. 

I had heard of Sound City before. Watching the movie brought me through more emotions than your standard tear-jerking Nicholas Sparks production. The whole thing was just so damn beautiful. Seeing people who care so deeply about music and what goes into the music they make is heartwarming to me. It inspires me because it makes me want to fight that much harder for a part in my career. Because I want to be a part of making that music, even if I don’t see myself as a musician. So much greed is in the world, and it has seeped its ugliness into the music industry more and more. Seeing all of these musicians come together to make music on the board that they all loved so much… How often do you see that? Really. Tell me. 

Maybe if you’re not into the behind-the-scenes aspect of music, you might not like this movie. Maybe you will. You should give it a try, either way. For those of you who hold a deep appreciation for music, especially music made from the soul, you should check it out. Please do, and report back.


“Blue Monday” and Being Present


Apparently today is the most depressing day of the year, or “Blue Monday” as I’ve heard it referred to. I can only guess that it’s due to the holidays ending, and the bleak prospect of winter ahead…

We don’t have much for holiday traditions, but there is one constant. The day after Christmas, my sister and her kids come up for the week. It’s stressful, it’s chaotic, and often makes one want to run away. The kids aren’t bad. But, then you have both of my brothers and their kids here, and suddenly there are eight kids running and screaming and playing games.

This year was a little different. I had anticipated getting a lot of work done. It was a pretty crazy fall for me, and I expected my time off to be fruitful in that I would finally have time to get to some projects. As it turned out, I started living my resolution before I had even made it.

I found myself not spending a whole lot of time hanging out in my room. Instead, I was spending a lot of time hanging out with my nieces – something I always plan to do, but just never happens due to the madness. One night while my siblings and parents were hanging out and playing games, I was sitting with my eight-year-old niece, reading an American Girl mystery book with her.

Another night, I had a wonderful heart-to-heart with my ten-year-old niece. Then, I proceeded to give her and her four-year-old cousin my Lush conditioner to use, which I don’t normally do. They likely wasted a lot, but whatever, their hair smelled like strawberries and vanilla after. I even had the bonus of having to wash the four-year-old’s hair again once I started combing it and realized that she had not rinsed the back of her head at all.

Of course, there was the big night. We were having a sleepover and the girls really wanted to have a beauty salon. When I’m not around and they visit my parents on break, they always use my room as the “salon”, and so that’s where we went. I expected it to take, like, a half-hour, tops. We were in there for two hours, at least. My nieces paired off and painted their own/one another’s nails, and I pained my youngest niece’s. Then, I let two of the girls paint my toenails:

Yes, they are different colors.

Yes, they are different colors.

They also convinced me to do their make-up (after their parent’s permission). I gave them eye shadow and some blush, and I had given them each a mini lip gloss for Christmas, so they used those.

And you know what? It was so much fun. I wasn’t feeling anxious or annoyed like I have found myself feeling sometimes in the past. I didn’t get that overwhelming feeling of needing to be doing other things, no desire to working on something else. I was living in the present moment, and thoroughly enjoying each moment of time I spent with those girls. When I was younger, I was very aware and proud of the influence I knew I had my nieces. As I grow up, and they grow up, it’s just such an amazing thing to witness our relationship grow along with us. I can’t wait to be a part of their lives more and more, and help them along the way. Being an Aunt is such an incredible thing.

But I would have missed out completely if I hadn’t been living in the moment. And that is something I strive to do more and more this year, and for many more years to come.

Did You Make a Resolution?

Everywhere I’ve looked this week, I’ve seen something about New Year Resolutions. I’ve seen a lot of people striving to do intense workouts everyday, or a few times a week. Smoothies for breakfast. No more junk food. It goes on and on.

I don’t believe in these kind of resolutions. We beat ourselves up over failure enough over the course of the year, and we really don’t need to beat ourselves up over anything else. I haven’t made a list of resolutions in years, but yesterday I sat down and wrote a list out in my journal. However, I took care in my resolutions.

I did not include any timed goals, i.e. “do yoga for 30 minutes every day”. Nor did I make any definite plans in my resolutions. I’ve been hoping for years to be able to make it to SXSW and Newport Folk Festival. I hope to do one or both this year, but I will not commit it down as a resolution, because I do not know at this point what will be going on in my life, therefore I cannot make that commitment.

Most resolutions aim too high. Habits many times cannot be completely broken in a year’s time. Incorporating something new into our lifestyles takes time, dedication, and practice. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.

Instead, I included things like “be more open to music” to combat my sometimes close-mindedness to new artists because of what I hear in the mainstream media. Instead of “write a novel” (every year I want to do NaNoWriMo, and every year I find I just don’t have the time), I wrote “start a novel”. Starting a novel is much more attainable. If I had “write a novel” down, I would feel stressed out all year. Instead, I’ll comb through my notebook of ideas, pick one out, and start it – no pressure. If it doesn’t take, well, at least I started to work on something.

All of my resolutions were made because I want this year of my evolution to be a great one. Instead of creating more stress, I want to find better ways to manage it. When next year comes around, I hope to be able to look back on this list and smile, because I was able to work on all of my goals – but not finish them, because change should be a constant opportunity to learn and grow.