Friday, January 6, 2012

Either Way

You break my heart either way
Whether you come for me or not
You leave me like a wet persimmon
I am cut and I am raw.
A feeling just above my breast
Heaviness and lightness that converge
You are the snake that can digest
Itself, it's body, and then so purge.

I am the grass you slide across,
Tasting, touching what you will
Although I try, I cannot kill--
To lose yourself is the greatest loss.

It costs me everything I once knew
Losing hopes and finding fears
Near where I thought I had left you that day
And whether you came for me or not, you broke my heart either way.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A walk through the orchard, Prague, CZ

When I had returned, all the stone fruit- the plums, the cherries, they had all fallen from their trees. In their place, the leaves were flush with red, orange, hues of amber, gleaming from the Baltic Sea. Children’s voices echoed through the hills, running, falling down, crying, laughing, the color of the leaves plush within their cheeks.

Beyond, the city stood. Old, dark, beautiful, mysterious, baroque with facades of color, decadence, grandeur. Smells of oak, husky cedars permeated the air. Church bells rang in the distance, asking for the ears of thousands. These hills asked for the steps of no one.

I walked on old bricks of cobblestone, laid centuries before. A pear fell out of a tree, and tumbled down next to my foot. I picked it up, smelled its sweet and somber scent. I bit into it, and it yielded to me. Succumbed like a helpless animal. Sweet and astringent, lonely, and full of transience.

Dark trees that strained to reach out- the air was moist and heavy, palpable with the imminence of their seasonal death. As I walked, wild chestnuts surrounded my feet- small, round, sentimental, pleasing to my palm as I held them. I found one that still had its outer shell, a tiny fortress of armor and thorns. I collected them all, carried them in my pocket. They were warm to look at, red amongst the dead brown leaves, and filled my heart with excitement.

Off in the distance, I could still hear the church bells ring.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Adventures at a Masquerade Ball

What do you do when it's 2:00am, you're at a raging party, everyone's dressed up in masks and wild costumes, is engrossed in dancing and making out, and you're about to go on and play a set.
Now say you're not a full rockin band, but instead one lone singer-songwriter. (Not like I'm naming any names here). It's a room of at least 50-100 people in all sorts of altered states, and somehow, they have to listen to you.

First order of business...
Fake an orgasm. Loudly.
Believe me. It rattles a little attention. I mean let's face it. The way things are going on that dance floor, that's the direction everyone's heading anyway. And maybe they'll be too drunk to actually get there, so be a sport, and do your part.
Maybe you'll want to make a few more odd sounds in general during your set. Like strange gutteral sounds or african tribal mating calls. Maybe you curse a little more. 2am's a rowdy time, and you do what you gotta do. In other words, why stand in a tub of water with shoes on? Sometimes you just gotta get in.
As for the actual set- It really don't matter. Mess up the words, make new melodies, just as long as it grooves like a motherf*cker. Peeps don't care, they just want to feel their bodies beat to something.
Finally- make it short. Attention spans aren't that long in general, let alone in a situation like that. Better to be encored for more than lose that precious thread of attention.
Speaking of which, I'll follow my own advice and sign off on this one for now.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Felice Brothers, and the Long Return Home

The reason why I brought up the topic of the response song in the first place, is because I wrote one yesterday. I had looked up a video of the Felice Brothers on youtube, and found this song, "Her Eyes Dart Round".
It poured deeply into a part of me, one that I had not let in for quite some time. It was one of yearning for some misplaced nostalgia, of longing to fully love a country and culture that was my own.
It is true, I have always had eyes beyond national borders, and certainly life experience beyond them as well. I never saw it as wanting to leave home as much as I truly wanted to explore, but after finding a part of myself so deeply in this song, this sentiment, this story, to the point where my eyes overflowed- I realized I had missed home. Though I never knew it.

This song stayed with me all night and all the next day. I would just load up the video on my phone to hear it over and over. I sang it to myself in the halls of school the next day. I sang it to strangers in passing who had no idea what I was doing. I could feel a need to respond to it, to pay my own respects as a songwriter to the ones who had mastered a work, and who had inspired me so deeply.

The form I picked up quickly, as well as the general chord progression. I based my melody on theirs (although eventually it took it's own turns as the song found itself) and took note of their lyrical structure, which was a series of four rhyme couplets in each verse. I began the song not knowing where I was going, sort of like the characters that emerged out of the story.
I could not place myself in the exact character the Felice Brothers were singing about, for she was distant and unatainable. I could not take her out of the place they had created for her, which was as set as a photograph. But the sentiment- the feeling of far away, of longing, perhaps regret- this stayed with me. And since the character singing in their song is a man who seems to be roaming far away, it gave me the feeling being a woman on the other end of that, of singing to a man who is always equally as unnatainable in his own right. One who will always belong to the world, and never to you, try as you may.

The Lyrics are as follows:

Well if you look further west
To the orange and reds
Where the tree trunks have grown
Out of nothing but stone
That's where my love resides
In the black candlelight
In the fall of our death
When the world went to rest.

Well you picked up a stone
Said "see this is my home.
I'm a man of the wild
I'm forever a child."
"I can't be with no one
Who don't carry a gun."
"I live for the eyes
Of the one I won't find.

Oh lie de lie lie
Oh lord I did lie
With my boots strapped on
I made a grown man cry
Cause I became him
And he became me
And it grew hard to tell
Well who's heart had failed.

So if you look further west
Where the sun goes to rest
Out where the wind blows
Over nothing but stone
That's where my love was born
On one clear cold morn
That's where my love died
As you turned your eyes.

©2009 Maya Solovey

The Response Song

As I mentioned before, when a song or piece of art touches you so deeply, how can you not respond with an expression your own?
Let me first delve a little deeper into the concept of the Response Song.
There are many roads one can go on this one, but they will all lead to a change in the point of view. In one example, Aretha Franklin's version of "Respect" flips the original (and lesser known version) of Otis Redding's, by changing the gender positioning, a few words, perhaps a different verse, and thus, the entire social and cultural context.
The Response Song can also bring life to the character that was originally the party sung to in the first place, which also happens in the song "Respect".

Otis Redding's Version:

What you want
Honey you've got it
And what you need
Baby you've got it

All i'm asking
Is for a little respect when i come home

Do me wrong
Honey if you wanna
You can do me wrong
Honey while i am gone

But all i'm asking for
Is for a little respect when i come home

Hey little girl, you're so sweeter than honey
And i am about to just give you all my money

All i'm asking for
Is a little respect when i come home

Hey little girl, you're sweeter than honey
And i am about to give you all my money

But all i want you to do
Just give it, give it
Respect when i come home

Respect is what i want
Respect is what i need
Respect is what i want
Respect is what i need

Got to, got to have it
Got to, got to have it
Gotta, got to have it
Gotta, got to have it

Aretha Franklin's Version:

What you want baby I got it
What you need
You know I got it
All I'm askin' is for a little respect
When you come home
Baby when you come home

I'm out to give you all my money
But all I'm askin in return honey
Is to give me my proper respect
When you get home
Yeah, baby, when you get home

I ain't gonna do you wrong while you gone
I ain't gonna do you wrong
'Cause I dont wanna
All I'm askin' is for a little respect
When you come home
Baby, when you come home

Ooh, your kisses, sweeter than honey
But guess what, so here's my money
All I want you to do for me
Is give me some respect when you get home
Yeah, baby, when you get home

Find out what it means to me
Take out T-C-P

A little respect.

Needless to say, Aretha's response song flourished as the ultimate womens' rights anthem, in large part because it rose up to a position and a point of view equally as strong as the man's in Otis' original. In fact, she even ups him one, in the verse where he says "You can do me wrong / If you wanna / While I'm gone" and she replies, "I ain't gonna do you wrong / While you're gone / Cause I dont wanna".

Simone Felice, of the Duke and the King

So there has been an interesting turn of the stars, and it has brought some very auspicious and serendipitous people in to my life lately.
One, Simone Felice of the Felice Brothers, has been an inspiring beacon of artistry and has renewed me to the imperative integrity of a song. I've found great solace in the beauty and seamlessness of his poetry and songwriting, and also that of his brothers and their band.

I first met Simone (photo; right) when he came to the studio where I was working on my record. I had just woken up and was still a little hazy when Simone burst through the door, gave me a grand hug, and exclaimed, "I'm so, so happy to meet you!"
We became fast friends.
We also became artistic comrades, ever devoted to the voices our respective arts and music.
They were working on mixing their record at the studio, and that is when I first heard the music he had created together with his friend and bandmate Robert "Chicken" Burke, (photo; left) who has also since become my producer.
One song in particular, the last one on the album, struck a chord in me. It was called "American Song". I left the studio, but the song stayed with me, and it haunted me deeply. I wanted to hear it over and over again, but of course I couldn't, because it was at the studio and I was home. So I sat down, figured out the chords close enough, and sang whatever I could remember.

But of course, the greatest compliment to a great piece of art is to give something back in response to it. This is the concept of the Response Song, or in this case, a sister song.
I didn't know Simone's lyrics, but the feeling of just the phrase "American song" inspired me just as it was.

The lyrics as they came to me, are as follows.

By Simone Felice, as heard by Maya Solovéy.

We sang it late
Sang it long
We lit our flames
They were strong.
It took so long
But we fought on and on
One more fighting song
One more American song.

We gathered round
Round the flames
Different colors
One race.
You could see the gaze
The face of hope beyond
One more fighting song
One more American song.

We sang it late
Sang it long
Battered and beaten
We fought on.
It took so long
But our hearts beat as one
Just one beating strong
One more fighting song
One more American song.

To me, my initial drive in the lyrics was that of civil rights, and our long and still growing march to freedom and equality. But I played it for some close friends, and it spoke to them as a song about love. But whatever the specific interpretation, it's about fighting for something, whether it be love, freedom whatever may mean the most to you, that's worth fighting for.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

English Lyrics: A Call to Action

As I said before, English tends to be good for describing things, for nuance, for multiple meanings, puns, plays on words. It is also about what is not said.
I mentioned in my last post that as my musical knowledge grew, I became more interested in the purely musical aspect of songs, rather than the lyrics. I have since come back full circle from that one a bit, and while I can indulge that motive while writing in Spanish or Portuguese, I have come to realize the beauty and elusive skill that it takes to write good lyrics in English. Firstly, the 'stuff' of life is always in the drama. Drama always happens in conflict, which can happen within one person, but usually happens between two people. A lot of that drama is dialogue and action. (And yes, sometimes, lack thereof). Since I began to incorporate these elements into my lyrics, a whole new world opened up for me. Before then, I wrote a lot of feelings with a lot of imagery. But who cares about those things, besides the person feeling them? Feelings are perishable. They are reactions of actions. On their own, they are superfluous, flowery emotional splooges that mean nothing. But within the structure of action and dialogue, they can add subtlety, color, mood, analogies, and more detail.
If I rant on in a song about how I feel about you, what do I not give you a chance to do? I do not give you a chance to speak!
This is a very undemocratic process.

These are the first two songs to which I came to these profound lyrical observations.
To listen, paste the link-


You say, "I can be loyal, but not faithful"
I say "Fine, but I will return the favor"
"Our love is just too big for two people"
"Fine. Go after that dream you've been seeking."

Its the dreamgirls that you like best
The ones that never let you rest
You run and run, but you don't find
They live only inside your mind.

I've been alone in far away places
But the loneliest I've been is with you
We are strangers to each other
Living with ghosts
And shadows of our lover

I try to leave, but I just can't go
These chains I carry them alone
It breaks my heart to
Love you
But what else can I do.

You say I choose to feel this way
I say "who would choose this"
You hold on to your dreams
Longer than you do people

It's the dreamgirls that you like best
The ones that never let you rest
You run and run, but you don't find
They live only inside your mind

I try to leave, but I just can't go
These chains I carry them alone
It breaks my heart to
Be with you
But what else can I do.

It breaks my heart to
Love you
But what else can I do.

©2008 Maya Solovéy


I will
Put a song on the phonograph
Stay a while, we’ll have a laugh
And drink a glass of wine or two
You’ll take a step on through the door
Say, “I wish I’d call you more”
I smile and say,
“Then baby, why don’t you”
Don’t play it like a fool
You know just what you do
You’re playing heartache blues.

You say,
“Hope you don’t think I’ve been cold
Baby you look so beautiful
I missed you so much, I forgot”
Funny, I did not miss you at all
Never thought about when you’d call
I never bought
The cologne that you wear
No baby, I don’t care
Just like I do not breathe air
There are my heartache blues.

So baby why don’t you
Just let me think it’s true
Cause if I can’t have you
Then play me like a fool
We’ll both know what we do
Heartache Blues.

©2008 Maya Solovéy