A friend of mine once said, “If you’re looking to get into vinyl, you should start with Cat Stevens.” I think that’s pretty sound advise. Cat Stevens should be listened to on vinyl and his albums can be found in most record stores, usually for under $10. “If You Want to Sing Out” is one of those songs I remember from when I was a little girl. In fact, there’s something very childlike about it to me. Lyrically even, it’s got a very “Oh the places you’ll go” feeling. When I was a kid, my imagination never could have guessed all the places I have gone. Which, I suppose, is an important reminder that my future is just as limitless.
Dress: Urban Outfitters — Shoes: Aldo — Bag: Vintage Coach — Necklace: Old Navy
“Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
‘Cause there’s a million things to be
You know that there are
And if you want to live high, live high
And if you want to live low, live low
‘Cause there’s a million ways to go
You know that there are
You can do what you want
The opportunity’s on
And if you can find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo
you see ah ah ah
its easy ah ah ah
You only need to know”
Bahamas – the stage name of Afie Jurvanen – played in my office when I worked in the music industry. I had never heard of him and he played “Lost in the Light” and I don’t know that I’ve ever been the same. His voice is one of my favorites. It’s warm and big and he can probably put children at ease in a minute flat. Recently, I’ve been drawn to old favorites because I’ve been searching for comfort. Anxiety is something I’ve struggled with my whole life, but I don’t know that it’s ever been as palpable in my day to day as it is now. I’m about to host my first comedy show (on Saturday!) and I’m sort of panicking about it. I’ve never really had a strong sense for what I’ve wanted to do. And maybe that’s because there are so many things I enjoy. But I really love to write and most other things I love, have something to do with that. Since coming to California, I’ve been drawn to comedy. Writing jokes takes a sharpness and an edge that appeals to me. So I’m gonna try this new thing and hope it works out. Wish me luck!
The Velvet Underground is my musical equivalent of a childhood blankie. Comforting, familiar & worn around the edges. They fit every mood, every age, every moment of my life so perfectly. When I was young, and very naive, I listened to “I’ll Be Your Mirror” and thought it was the best love song. But the surprising thing is; I still do. It’s the kind of love song that transcends romantic love. It’s the love you have for anyone you care about. It’s home base. And I come back to it time and time again. To remember the thing I always seem to forget; someone, somewhere, sees me.
If I was a Rorschach test, I think I would look something like this dress. I’ve always had an affinity for patterns and colors. My mom would say it’s my own need to dress up the mundane. I think, it’s slightly more pathological than that. I’ve always had a deep desire to distract people from the things I feel like I’m missing. When I was younger, it was very literal. I wore crazy hats to hide the fact that I had no hair. But when I grew up, it became more about distracting myself. When my life would get particularly crazy, I would put all my energy into clothes and since a lot of that energy was a bit frenzied – it’s safe to say my choices have always been a bit eclectic.
It’s hard for me to let go of things. Beloved shoes for example – when they get really old and start to fall apart. But also, people. And while the former may have a definitive past-prime indicator (like rain water in your boot) the latter is a bit more ambiguous.
I always hate it when I hear people say they don’t have room in their life for someone. As if people take up the same space in our lives as the shoes in our closets. It’s a strange metaphor, especially when by modern standards keeping up with someone – if only peripherally – is so astoundingly easy. I think people are more like songs than articles of clothing. They take up the same amorphous space in our lives. You may listen to the same song over and over again and then not hear it for years. Vampire Weekend is a band I listened to over and over again. “I Think Ur A Contra” in particular. So now when I hear it, it really is like an old friend. Everything I loved about it hits me all at once and I think, “How did I forget about you? Weren’t we best friends at one point?”
Dress: En Creme c/o Crossroads — Jacket: F21 — Bag: Vintage Dooney & Bourke — Hat & Necklace: Urban Outfitters
“Never pick sides
Never choose between two
Well I just wanted you
I just wanted you
“Never pick sides
Never choose between two”
Well I just wanted you
I just wanted you
I think you’re a contra
And I think that you’ve lied
Don’t call me a contra
Till you’ve tried”
I used to spend a lot of time wondering when my life would get easier. When the new year comes around, I always think, “Is this it? Is THIS the year?” But I started out 2016 in the hospital with a ruptured appendix and I’m pretty sure that’s the universe’s way of saying “nope.” The National always seems to fill that “nope” spot for me. Trouble Will Find Me came out at a time in my life when trouble did. I had just lost my job, my parents were getting divorced and I felt ambivalent about my life in NY. So after 6 months of trying to extinguish the flames, I decided to instead move away from them. Soon after, my parents’ divorce was finalized and my father got remarried. I haven’t seen him in 3 or 4 years and our relationship, for better or worse, is probably over. As with most parents, I’m forever frozen as a child in his mind. But not just any child. I’m a child who beat cancer. And as intensely flawed as he can be, he’s never forgotten that.
When I was younger my dad bought a fireproof safe for important family documents. I remember asking him how it was possible for something to be fireproof. If a fire could destroy our whole house, how could it not destroy this little box? He said that it had a steel core that would keep the most important part of it safe. So that even when everything else had burned away, it would still have what it was protecting. He said that people could be fireproof too. That it was called resilient. I told him I wanted to be that and he told me I already was. Maybe it’s because of my past medical history or because of this particular memory or maybe it’s just the fact that the song directly references my name, but “Fireproof” feels like it’s mine. And when I was in the hospital, on albeit high amounts of morphine, it felt like it was whispering to me. I spend too much time wondering when life will get easier. I forget. I don’t need it to.
I just started a new job and it feels chaotic – the process of learning anything new is hella overwhelming so this outfit is a pretty good depiction of my state of mind. Every ebb and flow and color feels decisive and uncertain all at the same time. Challengers by The New Pornographers is a good soundtrack to the uncertainty of walking away and starting something new because it was written by two people who fell in love while living with other people. The title track is my favorite, but “My Rights Versus Yours” & “All The Old Showstoppers” are incredible as well. “Challengers” is just the right amount of melancholy. And ironically helps me feel a little less so. Also, little life hack: if you wear a good outfit, people are less likely to notice when you cry in the bathroom.
“On the walls of the day
In the shade of the sun
We wrote down
Another vision of us
We were the challengers of
‘Be safe’ you say
Whatever the mess you are you mind okay
That is the custom
I first heard about Mayer Hawthorne many years ago, through a friend of mine who works at Juilliard. Given his profession and general wonderfulness, I trust his musical instincts greatly. Recently, I went home to New York, and spent a good deal of time with this same friend and when I came back, found myself having a conversation in LA about Mayer Hawthorne. I think Where Does This Door Go is great for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it feels surprising. The people it appeals to, the retro sound and modern sensibility, the amount of genres he covers throughout the album – all feel remarkably unpredictable. And, having already written at length about my love of Kendrick Lamar, to have an album that includes him always feels satisfying. “Crime” doesn’t feel forced in the way that some people feature Lamar (to bolster their own credibility) – it feels like a natural and obvious dynamic between two great musicians. Lyrically, the title track, “Where Does This Door Go” feels like the perfect manifestation of my life right now. Pretty much everything I’ve done in LA I’ve done with absolutely no idea where it would lead me. It’s somewhat terrifying, but that’s what life’s all about, right?
Dress/Belt: Thrifted — Shoes: Jessica Simpson
“And to think
I was lost
But not alone
Now I’ve crossed
To the unknown
And I’m looking for a way back home
A way back home
Where does this door go
I haven’t been through
It’s not feeling normal
What do I do?
And after all
I thought that I knew
Where does this door go?”
If you haven’t heard of Leon Bridges yet, you really need to. His debut album, Coming Home, is one of the best things I’ve ever heard. I don’t feel quite equipped to pick a favorite song, but the first one I got into was “Better Man”. I remember saying to a friend that I wished more people would still write love songs like this. In the poignant way Leon equates forgiveness in love with thirst. And the object of his desire as a well. I’m young, but I often feel as though I’m nostalgic for times I’ve never actually experienced. When I was younger, I used to cry when I listened to Sam Cooke. I loved his music so much it felt wrong I wasn’t around when it was being made. But I’m really glad I’m around for this.
Top/Purse/Hat/Necklace: H&M — Skirt: Thrifted — Shoes: Colin Stuart
“All night long I was out
Out till the morning
But baby you’re tender
Love’s what I’m longing
Baby please, I’m down on my knees begging
I thirst for you girl
Baby I’m running to your well
What can I do? What can I do?
To get back to your heart
I’d swim the Mississippi river
If you would give me another start, girl”
A former editor of mine said that the band he had the most trouble interviewing was his favorite; Wilco. When it came time to form questions, he found himself asking things he personally wanted to know, rather than thinking about the direction of the piece as a whole. Whenever I listen to Wilco, I think about that. But when I listen to this album, it tends to be because I need comfort. The album, was supposed to be released September 11th, 2001, but was rejected by a record exec and delayed. The delay caused people to draw parallels between 9/11 and the lyrics – even though the two were unrelated. There is a mournful aura about the album that fits with that narrative. It is unintentionally reassuring. The celestial/post apocalyptic imagery always makes me feel small and while that is scary in some ways, it also helps my fears feel small. My hair has always been a point of comfort for me. When I lost it in chemo, I came to associate short hair with being sick. Long hair made me feel secure – it made me feel far away from cancer. But it is important to face fears; no matter how trivial or superficial their manifestation It’s important to feel small at times. Or, to quote Mr. Tweedy, to “turn your orbit around” but not let it stop you from moving.