Sunday, September 7, 2014

Maine: An Enlightening Insight to the Music

I just returned from a trip from Maine. For those of you who don't know me well, I grew up there until I was 13. My husband also grew up there in a nearby town. We didn't meet each other until later in life. Needless to say, we try to take a trip there every year or so to visit with his huge family- six brothers and sisters, most with their own families and children. Being an only child, I have always loved big families. In a way they fascinate me. My dad had a big family, with three sisters and a brother. Growing up, I loved having my cousins around and right down the street no matter how crazy they were. Again, I was envious of all the siblings and the big family (However, now, I absolutely love being an only child! I was always the center of attention and got all the toys and at 26, I still do to a certain extent!). Mom and dad, I know we all "hate" Maine, but it does hold a certain nostalgia of times past, the rural country, and of quieter times. BUT this post is not intended to rile anyone up about MAINE, in fact it's not about Maine at all, ok it is a little.... But it's more about a music that was born from a location not many people know of and a man that was born from this place so far north my students in Florida (no joke!) were under the impression I was OUT OF THE COUNTRY! They thought Maine was in England! But boy, oh boy. That is another tangent entirely!

Upon my return from our family trip, I settled in at home after two days with a lot of thoughts running through my head. Deep thoughts that I usually don't have– what is most important to me in life, what do I really want out of life, my marriage, my career. I guess at some point we have to think about these things in order to really make our life what we want it. If we didn't we would just let other people's choices make us something we may or my not want to be.– Maybe it was the quiet slow way of the country that actually allowed me to think for a change, maybe it was just coming after all no matter the location. After a couple of days of being back I determined to pick up my guitar which glares at me every time I walk past it on my way to the kitchen or bed room. It says, "Why have you not played me? What are you waiting for? There is always another excuse." And it is true, I have neglected to pick up that black EC180 for at least a month with an array of excuses: "I am busy, tired, don't have time, not motivated, I have to focus on school." But yesterday after a conversation with my dad and a cowriter of ours and having some time to myself, I picked up that black beauty and opened my song book.

Song number one that hit home: "Cherryfield"

A little background before you read: Cherryfield is a town in Maine, about 30 miles from Ellsworth if you know where that is. It is full of blueberry fields thus the lyrics "the field turn blue about this time of year." However, the "folks are all kind of old around here" and migrant workers come in to rake the blue berries every summer. This song is a beautiful story about this intriguing place and a love story that could have and probably did happen at some point in someone's life, although it was written as a hypothetical situation, there is no doubt in my mind that this has happened. It's about a man reminiscing of his young love that summer. I always envision the man much older and in a rocking chair looking out over the blueberry fields while thinking about her and about that perfect summer so many years ago until "the summer turned to cold [winter] wind" and she was gone. Now looking back he wonders if she still thinks of him in Cherryfield.

Originally written for a man to sing, I tweaked it for myself, however, the best lyrics are for a male vocalist and are the ones presented here.

I’m in Cherryfield, I’m in Cherryfield remembering

Rolling into town every summer
There’s fathers, sons, mothers and daughters
I don’t know where they’re from or where they go
Dad said they’re from somewhere down in Mexico
They’re here long enough to get it done

The fields turn blue about this time of year
And the folks are all kind of old around here
Anyway they can’t take the sun
I’m in Cherryfield remembering when we were young

You’re dark brown hair really caught my eye 
It was flowing in the wind when I walked by
I held my breath when you looked my way

There wasn’t much to say that we could understand
But we didn’t need words if I could just hold your hand
And we’d run through the fields and roll in the tall hay

I’m in Cherryfield remembering when we were young
Tender hearts would lead us on
I’m in Cherryfield surrendering to our love
We wondered how could this be wrong?

We’d meet by the apple tree in the pasture past the quarry
While the birds would sing the bees made honey

I’m in Cherryfield remembering when we were young. 
And the summer turned to cold wind and you were gone
You were all my mind could hold
You’re still with me when I’m old and I wonder do you have these memories

I’m in Cherryfield remembering when we were young
I’m in Cherryfield surrendering to our love
I’m in Cherryfield, Cherryfield, Cherryfield, remembering 

Driving through Franklin, Maine I saw a sign for Cherryfield and this song took on a whole new meaning to me. Maybe it will never be a commercial hit, but it is so much deeper than I realized, and so well crafted. I do not care what "critics" may say, this song is a gem, and anyone who does not understand it, is just simply not thinking enough, or did not really listen for the back story. Yes it is deeper than Country Music today, but that is the beauty of it. It is not cleaning and driving music. It is thought and emotion provoking music that requires someone to use their brain and maybe even do some research.

The second song that hit home: "Holding On"

Yet, another song that is a little too deep and maybe a little depressing for some. But I love the passion and the rawness of the lyrics. I love that it portrays the struggles of most Americans and does not sugar coat the hard work and disappointment that many working families go through.  Furthermore, it addresses the cookie cutter answers that most people face in struggles of their own when they seek advice. However, at the end there is a little bit of hope, and that hope lies in family and love–the things that are really the most important in life. Again, on my visit to Maine, you see the hard working men, women and family, and how relatable this song is to those of that life style. I am starting to see dad's music in a new light.

On and on and on it goes 
Another week and I don’t know
How to make ends meet 
When the money’s gone by mid-week
The lights, the phone, the cigarettes
The kids are sick. The dog needs a vet
The gas, the food, the credit cards
The mortgage payoff seems so far away
I’ll never see the end

Every God damn dime I’ve ever made gets eaten up by life
Can’t save a cent to save my soul
I’m tired of this fight
If I failed to plan I must have planned to fail 
Said the preacher man after I prayed
His words of wisdom don’t help me know
I’m holding on til I get paid

Who makes the rules? Who says they’re fair?
They charge me more and no one cares
The tax man and insurance guy jack their rates through the sky
They cut my hours they cut my pay
They’re losing money so they say
The benefits dried up and gone 
Seems like everyone has got a legal right to steal a piece of me

Every God damn dime I’ve ever made gets eaten up by life
Can’t save a cent to save my soul
I’m tired of this fight
If I failed to plan I must have planned to fail 
Said the preacher man after I prayed
His words of wisdom don’t help me know
I’m holding on til I get paid

Female Lyric Response: I know you’re holding on, things will be better some day
If we can hang onto our love, we’ll be ok

The Third song that made me think: "Here I Go"
I don't know if my parents have ever been in a fight to this extreme, and if they ever were, they resolved it and have continued to be married for 36 years! However, this song just screams who they are. My dad is quiet at times, "the door to the depth of me is often locked." He did have a guitar that was bought at a pawn shop, they have a ton of photos from their life and they have always collected shells from the beach. And I love the theme of humility and doing what the other person wants because you do love them so much; "I'd rather be staying, but you said leave" so I guess I will go now, but I am still holding onto hope that you will change your mind when you remember the past and life that we have shared. All of that to say this is why I love it so much.

I’ve been packing all day
And I’ve had time to think
My life don’t fit into just any box
I know what you said
Some things you were right
The door to the depth of me is often locked

Here I go
I’ve got everything I came with
I’ve got boxes of things and memories
Seems I’ve kept my lonely heart
Here I go
I know now what a shame it is
Oh I’d rather be staying 
But you said leave and
It’s tearing me apart

What about all these photos and that TV we bought
What about all these shells we found on the beach
There’s my old guitar that you got out of hawk
And you convincing me that my dreams were in reach 

I’ve been down this road before
More than a time or two
This time it’s different girl
This time I love you

As I’m writing this note I hope you find
I’ll be praying these memories will be changing your mind

I’d rather be staying, but here I go

In conclusion, the other songs hit home as well, but only in certain places where I know where my dad was coming from when he wrote specific lines of the lyrics. These songs are the ones that are really full of my parents' lives and history. I said it before, but this music is poetry. It really does make you think a little more, and you may need to know the backstory or just do a little research. That is why I love it. I do not want to settle for songs about trucks, beer, and girls and superficial things that the world deems as important. The reason we create and write is because it is an outlet for life; an expression of who we are. If you are a writer, never let that go. Success doesn't always mean you are on the radio, success in writing means that you accurately portray what you want to portray.

About This Site

I am hoping to write about my journey into making singing and songwriting my full time profession. I want to post my insights, discoveries, experiences, and inner thoughts about this journey. I am hoping to give readers an inside look at the hard work, dedication, criticisms, and general experiences of this profession along with simply having a way to tell you about this journey. I hope you find something that is beneficial and meaningful to you here. Please email me with any comments or questions! ~Sara Crabtree