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My early Christmas gift to you

17 Dec

I’ve been having a little trouble getting into the Christmas spirit this year.  I’ve been going through the motions, of course, but I’ve been preparing for it almost academically.  Now, though, I think maybe my shell is starting to crack.

On Monday night I got to attend a session of the Music Yukon Songwriters Circle.  It was such fun to meet some experienced singer-songwriters, learn about how they approach songwriting, and hear a bunch of tunes in progress.  The “homework” they had given themselves from their previous session was to write a Christmas song.  I’d already been thinking about Christmas music because of this post that Jen wrote, insinuating that I could write a Christmas song.  (Thanks for planting that seed, Jen!)

Last night while I was out walking Nanuq, I got a little inkling of an idea for a tune.  But when I sat down at the piano, something entirely different from what I’d intended came out on the page.  The whole thing — lyrics, melody, accompaniment — was written in about 15 minutes.  It’s exciting when that happens, but really, it’s as if the song is coming through me rather than from me.

I’m usually not very comfortable writing about religion on the blog, perhaps because it’s a part of my life that doesn’t feel very settled.  I’m probably more surprised than you are that the title of the song is Angels are Smiling (It’s Christmas).

Thanks to Michael, who helped me record it tonight and for making suggestions on the harmony line and making me an “album cover”.  (I think it is so cool that it is now possible to write a song one night and record it — with harmony! — the next, right at home.  This technolomogy, it is a crazy thing!  Now if I could just add a cello…)

Anyway, here it is, my early Christmas gift to you.  A very simple tune; I hope you enjoy it.

Angels are Smiling (It’s Christmas)

Rock the sleeping baby,
Tuck the wee one in.
Put out the flickering candles
And let the night begin.
And now breathe a little prayer
Of thanksgiving and of light;
The angels are all smiling
For now it’s Christmas night.
The angels are all smiling
For now it’s Christmas night.

Mary’s in the stable
And Joseph’s at her side.
The baby’s in the manger,
All warm and snug inside.
And now breathe a little prayer
Of thanksgiving and of joy;
The angels are all smiling
Now for the Christmas boy.
The angels are all smiling
Now for the Christmas boy.

Behold, a star is shining
And lighting up the sky.
The day we were awaiting,
That day of joy is nigh.
And now breathe a little prayer
Of thanksgiving and of praise;
The angels are all smiling
For dawn it’s Christmas day.
The angels are all smiling
For dawn it’s Christmas day.

©2009. Fawnahareo’s Place. All rights reserved.

Perfect Angel

28 Jun

When you’re playing in public, I think it’s important not to make excuses about why you’re not good or what’s wrong with your performance.  The audience is there to have a good time and listening to you being self-conscious makes everyone uncomfortable.

Somehow I don’t feel like my blog is playing in public, though; it’s more like playing for someone in my living room, where I’m free to cough and say, “Gah!  That garlic I had for lunch is drying up my throat.  Excuse me while I run and get some water.”

So, I’m going to share this song that I just wrote for Jade, but I am going to preface by saying that I realize the metaphor is tired.  I don’t think it’s a brilliant piece of music, although there is a line or two that I quite like.  It does express some of the things I’ve been feeling, so it’s been therapeutic for me.  And it’s therapeutic for me to share things with you, so I figured I’d do that, too.  Lyrics appear below the fold.

Continue reading

House Concert Debrief

12 May

Waking up this morning wasn’t much fun; Jade was crying and my nose and throat were parched and sore.  I’ve had a lot of colds in the past year, but most of the time I’ve had just a runny nose and a little fatigue.  Rarely have I had a cough, too, as I have today, rattling deep in my chest.

Never mind, I had a great time at the YWIM fundraising house concert on Saturday night, so I’ll try to think about that instead.  I came away completely awed by the musical talent we have here, and also grateful that I was slated as the second performer or I might have completely lost my nerve after listening to everyone else.

As I mentioned in my previous post, tickets were $25 each, which, to be honest, I thought might be a bit steep for the type of event.  But then, I’ve never been to a YWIM concert before.  Good thing I wasn’t in charge, because the concert sold out and there were no tickets left at the door!  And even if there hadn’t been copious amounts of cheese, crackers, wine, and desserts, I’m still sure that everyone would have left feeling they had got their money’s worth.

My friend Caroline Watt was also performing; I asked her to get my performance on video, which she kindly agreed to do (which she may have regretted, because her arms got pretty tired from holding the darned thing up for 12 minutes!)

Watching a video of your own performances can be rather painful, I must say.  It’s easy to nit-pick at details and wish things had been done differently.  I know that overall I did okay, although nerves made me rush a bit.  (What is with the nerves?  It seems I have become more easily frazzled in the last couple of years.  Although performing stuff I’ve written myself is definitely a lot more intimidating than doing covers.  It feels so much more revealing.)  The piano to voice balance on the video is a bit off, but I think that was mostly because Caroline was sitting right next to the amp.

Twelve minutes of video is a bit too long to post, so I broke it up into the three individual songs.  There was a little more banter in between than what I’ve posted, but the important parts are there: the good, the bad, and the <insert-your-own-adjective-here>.

One Tear (3:22)

This song was based on a really short poem (three lines) I wrote in high school that is still somehow a favourite of mine.  You can hear Caroline telling me to turn down the piano at the beginning of this song, and I sort of flub things up as I am trying to comply.  No one else would know, but I sang the wrong words and put in an extra pause that I didn’t want because I didn’t move into the verse at the right time (being distracted).  But that’s the fun of live performance!

Lullaby for Mama (3:49)

As I say in the video, I wrote this song for some friends who were rewarded with having twins after trying to get pregnant for a long time.  It’s written from the perspective of one of the babies and made me bawl like one the first time I played it through after I wrote it.  Caroline, who did harmonies with me when I played it for my friend, also cried the first time she heard it.  I was actually feeling a wee bit hormonal when I started performing it, and had to tell myself to not think about what I was singing.  Which is both a good thing (not breaking into tears!) and bad thing to do when you’re trying to convey emotions in a performance.

Under my Skin (4:30)

This was the song I mentioned in my earlier blog post that I was nervous about performing; well, it just doesn’t seem like the kind of song a happily married woman should sing (not to mention write).  In the video, I talk a bit about the sentiment behind it, but I forget to mention that when I played it for Michael earlier in the evening, he said he liked it.  Even so, when I played it at the concert, I was getting hot and self-conscious.  You can see me breathe a sigh of relief at the end.  As I went back to my seat, I was fanning myself and I said to BJ MacLean, “Whew, I got so hot playing that last song.”  She made me laugh when she said, “I think everyone did.”

 

Sigg water bottleSo, did you notice that I wore my party shoes?  I figured since they were out, I might as well actually wear them, and I do love them so!  Barb Chamberlin, who was emceeing, commented that she wondered how I’d got my shoes to match my water bottle.  I didn’t even realize they did, but she was right.  Ha ha ha!  [Photo stolen from here: http://www.smartbride.com.au/bridal/sleepwear/SIGG%20Water%20Bottles/0/ ]

Normally when I post my songs, I post my lyrics along with them, but that would make this post really long, and it really is already rather longish, isn’t it?  But I can’t resist, so I’m adding them, but tucking them under the fold here.  Just click on “Continue Reading” if you want to see them.

Continue reading

She soars

11 Mar

I got some sad news today from a friend who got pregnant right around the time I had my miscarriage. She helped me a lot through that tough time because I felt I could share all my sadness with her; it was also therapeutic to focus on her happy news and excitement. Unfortunately, today she found out that she lost her baby. She’s devastated and I can’t even begin to say how sad I am for her and for her whole family.

It reminded me about a post I’ve been mulling over for some time but haven’t written, the one with the song I wrote to help me process my miscarriage. I think this is it.

Back in January, I was using Google Images to find a picture of a GT snow racer and ended up on a blog post that was several years old. The blog had been started by a woman who was expecting her first child. After reading a few of the old entries, I clicked on the masthead to see the most recent post. The most recent post was a year old and linked to the writer’s new blog, but the one right before it told the story of her daughter Ava’s birth. It was a heartbreaking read because Ava died only 7 hours after she was born.

I clicked over to the new blog and — happily! — was greeted by a picture of a gorgeous one-year-old boy. Karla still blogs, and many of her posts are about her beautiful son Nate. That blog is now one of my regular reads.

In exploring the blog, I found a poem that Karla had written for Ava, which she entitled “She Soars“. I’d been wanting to create something to honour the little baby we never got to meet, but I wanted it to be hopeful rather than depressing. Karla’s poem was exactly what I needed to experience. I started out thinking I’d set Karla’s poem to music, but my laptop died and I couldn’t get back on the web, so instead I wrote some new words based on the idea she had given me.

Michael took this recording for a me a couple of weeks ago and I wasn’t entirely happy with the take, but the camera batteries were dying and now he’s out of town, so I guess I’ll live with it. The video quality is lousy because I compressed it so much (slow Internet connection from my oooold computer) but I kinda like the underwater effect, don’t you?

This song is dedicated to Karla, Ava, Stacie, Bobbi, Amanda, Heather, and all of our little angels.

(Here’s a direct link to the YouTube page in case the embedded file doesn’t work for you: http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=qIxhrAgeHyo)

She Soars

You can float, you can fly
To the heavens so high
Still you will never fly too far from me
You can sing, you can sigh
But you’ll never have to cry
As my love holds you up like a boat on the sea

You can laugh, you can love
As you watch from up above
You will never have this weight to drag you down
You are pure, you are free
You are all that you can be
And my music holds you up on a river of sound

Soar so high
You’re still mine
Tears for you are true
She soars so high
On wings divine
You’re in my heart
So fly, soar so high

You’re a hope, you’re a dream
You’re the one who’s never been
To a place where hurt and pain can bend you low
Like a spark, like a star
I love everything you are
So soar, my little angel, I’m letting you go

Soar so high
You’re still mine
Tears for you are true
Yes, she soars so high
I’m so glad that you can fly
You are in my heart
So fly, now soar so high

— January 9, 2008

Copyright © Fawn Fritzen, 2008

Sayin’ “I love you”

14 Feb

When I was growing up, my family was never the type to say, “I love you.” It just wasn’t done. I went to Catholic school and once we had a mass in the gym where the priest gave a homily that I don’t remember much about, except that he inspired and encouraged us to go home and tell our families that we loved them.

I went home and nervously approached my mom in the kitchen and sheepishly mumbled, “I love you.” Because I did, after all. She came right over and gave me a hug, looked at my sympathetically and kindly asked, “What did you do?” Needless to say I didn’t try that experiment again for a long time.

Over time, different forces changed my family so that we did, in fact, begin to say “I love you”, and now we say it often and naturally. It’s important to me to mean it, to ensure that it’s not just a throw-away phrase at the end of our phone conversations.

I guess it’s always been important to me to be truthful or at least careful about using this particular phrase, maybe because we didn’t say it much when I was growing up. I remember the first time a boyfriend told me he loved me. We were standing in the entrance of my house and I was completely stunned and didn’t say anything back, which must have been rather disconcerting for him. But I didn’t want to say it if I didn’t mean it, and I hadn’t figured out yet what I was feeling. Poor guy.

A friend in university had a boyfriend with similar feelings of restraint. I love the story she told me about how they were parked somewhere one evening and he was compelled to say, “I… I… LIKE you STRONGLY!” Ahh, there’s nothing like a little conviction to sweep a woman off her feet.

It’s only in the last year or two that I’ve been able to start saying, “I love you” to the rest of my family — by which I mean the family I married into. It’s not that I haven’t loved them for years, it’s just that I don’t often hear them saying it. Michael’s not too mushy with his parents, and his dad in particular is not given to flagrant displays of emotion. But with distance and Granny’s battle with cancer, we’ve all become more able to say it. Well, at least the women have. I’ve told Marian and Lindsay and both Granny and Pop that I love them. But I have a feeling that Jim would squirm. And so would Tim. So for them, I just feel it; perhaps we’ll grow into it eventually.

I’ve been promising to post my latest song (which isn’t even my latest song anymore), but I’m still having some issues with my throat, so haven’t been able to record it. Here’s a little something in the meantime, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day. It’s the song I wrote for my sister and her new hubby (hi Pedro!) for their wedding this past November. I admit that it doesn’t exactly have the deepest lyrics, but I wrote it as a way to say “I love you” to them, and so I share it with you today as a way to say “I love you” to all my family and dear friends.

The song is called “Together” and I’m accompanied by Mani Mobini. Please feel free to watch him instead of me in the video. (He’s cute, isn’t he? Sorry ladies, he’s already spoken for.)

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