08 January, 2009


i've recently been hanging out with some friends who blog much more frequently than i do. they spotlight funny pictures, new toys, cool cover songs, general awe-some-ness EVERY DAY. how do they have time to do this? how do they keep it short like that? every time i sit down to write a blog it becomes a novel of personal growth. can i learn to keep it simple? do i need to? i actually think i am ok with my mostly-monthly blog of great heft (or the cyber equivalent).

i do write everyday. i am a proponent of morning pages- the oft-talked about process of waking up, rolling over, and spewing. i do 5 pages most mornings, with the exceptions of mornings like this one, where i got up at 7am. gasp. thats too early for me to take the extra 30-45minutes it takes me to do my pages. today is my annual trip to the dodge dealer in keene where i get my sprinter-van serviced. it's quite a van, if you havent seen it outside my gigs, and you cant just take it round the corner to meineke for a quick lube. it usually takes half the day. or most of the day when there's something wrong with the transmission. like today. so i am wasting time in the waiting room of the dealer, with the history channel blaring, and rotating cast of grumpy car-owners. who is ever happy to have to wait for their car to be worked on?

the ostensible subject of this blog is "resolutions". new year's or otherwise. in fact, it just struck me "resolution" has several meanings to me. but first, the easy definition. that which we resolve to do. resolutions can be tricky. they are often about change on a big scale. the kind of scale that ironically can only happen one day at a time. "i resolve to lose weight". this, for example, is not a one time statement. it's gonna take a while. i think that's why most resolutions fade. by april, they are a dim memory. or, sometimes they aren't. sometimes, it really does help change something to resolve it at the new year.

last year, my new years resolution was to stop using a set list. which i did. which has taken me most of this year to be comfortable with. at first it was terrifying. despite having written hundreds of songs and having them all memorized, i still worried that i would forget everything i knew the moment i walked onstage. what a lesson to learn to both trust yourself and to access all your knowledge even when you have to do it quickly, with a lot of people watching! from the very first time i tried it (22 jan 08, larchmont NY), i got results. i was more connected with my songs, more engaged with the audience, i played a longer, more dynamic set. the longer i've stuck with this, more has been revealed. i am constantly surprised by the new turns a show can take when you dont script the musical arc ahead of time. granted, this is easier when i play solo, but i've even started to be able to do this with some band gigs, which is really really fun. i think i'll resolve to keep on without a setlist.

this year, for new year's, i played at a fantastic little place in philly, the tin angel. my friend garrison and i did 2 shows, and at each i asked the audience to write their resolutions on a piece of paper at the merch table. here are a few of the ones people wrote down, divided into category:

the ordinary with extraordinary effects:
"to be more organized"
"to make a new friend"
"to be patient"
"to send folks "just because" cards, just because"

the masochistic:
"to go to boot camp 4x a week"

the denial:
"i will not use tobacco in 2009"
"to stop using the f-word in preparation for my child"

the entreprenureal:
"to make erin mckeown's tshirts" (ok girls, i GOT it)

the ambitious and heartbreaking:
"to tell my kids more stories about my childhood, learn to play my harmonica finally, and accept my husband for who he is"

i love this last one. it looks backwards, it looks forwards, and its painfully honest. my own new year's resolution was two part: to stop wearing jeans and to be more of myself, more often. ok, so i said this onstage, which i think means i have to stick with it or 250 people are gonna call me on it. actually the second part is easier. do you know how hard it is to give up wearing jeans? why am i doing this? i think i want to feel like i am stepping myself up. not just haphazardly throwing on the easiest thing. the ordinary thing. the comfortable thing. why am i doing this? does around the house count? what about in the snow?

it struck me, writing this, that "resolution" can also mean clarity. i think anniversaries provide clarity. they let us stop for a moment and look back. how are we different than we were the last time we stopped? what's changed? anniversaries provide awareness and perspective; they enhance the resolution of our view of ourselves. the more we look, the more aware of ourselves we are, the finer that resolution grows. eventually i will be able to witness myself on the cellular level.

"resolution" is also the close of something. it is the final chapter of a saga, it is a completion, it is a point after which we stop struggling and accept. i like that too. a new year's resolution to let go. to give up. to surrender. to let the plot be done. to walk away. easier said than accomplished. but thinking of "resolution" like that, i can let 2008, and all its details, float away. resolved.

happy new year, everybody! may it be your best!


  1. That last meaning for resolution is why I rarely make them at New Year's. I save my life-goals for my birthday. That way I can truly close out one easily delineated part of life in exchange for another. This year I did make some goals for January 1st, but they are in preparation for my Birthday Resolutions. Things to help me set myself up for success and reaching all my goals. I hope your resolutions go well and inspire you for more changes.

  2. I got one: Don't change what ain't broke....

    Is a resolution an end or a beginning? "I resolve to (fill in the blank)" Sounds like a beginning to me....

    I always find doing positive things (I am going to eat better, I am going to play my guitar more, I am going to love myself better) is much easier to keep going (for me) than resolving the negative (I will not curse) For me resolving not to do something, especially something deliciously self destructive leaves me feeling empty, you know? So......I will try to drink water instead of coffee one time a day, or Oh yeah, I will live...today... just a couple of key clatters :)