"Let Me Try" - thoughts behind the song/painting


I want to share with you a few of the thoughts behind the song Let Me Try.

My partner in time and space, Brian DeWeese, and I just released it under the new name Tether the Star. We'll be adding more recordings so be sure to sign up for the email list if you're interested. (tetherthestarmusic.com) We have a new home studio set up and have a quite a few songs lined up that we are working on for future releases. For this song we decided to keep the production simple, just using vocals and piano.

You can purchase/stream/hear the song on most digital media oulets. We have digital distribution through DistroKid and it is on Apple Music, and Spotify. You can also hear it on You Tube. Please check it out and share it around if you feel like it. 

Thoughts behind the Song

The concept for this was born out of a connection and conversation with another mom, a friend of mine. 

We hadn’t seen eachother in awhile, and we decided to meet up for a hike.  As we walked through the forest, we caught up on all the usual topics, laughing at the kid shenanagins, venting our common parenting frustrations, etc. When we talked about raising the kids through this crazy pandemic it seemed like just another topic, just another learning curve, and something that we had to figure out as we went along, much of what my whole entire experience of parenting has been…a moving target. There’s no such thing as perfect parenting.  As soon as you figure something out that works, the kid changes. We each have 3 kids ranging 8-16 years, so it’s easy to see that what works for one kid doesn’t work for all of them.

As we walked the trail, our conversation went from philosphical to practical with such ease. I hadn’t seen any peers for so long because of quarantining, so it was a much needed connection for me. As we ascended a hill, she told me something that made me stop.

She told me that her eldest teenager had a friend who comitted suicide. 

Just hearing about it made my heart sink. I could actually feel the sadness in my whole body. This was a teenager, a child, just in the middle of figuring out life. It was traumatic just hearing about it. Then I reveled that if it was this hard for me, just hearing about it as a mother, how hard must it have been for the parent of that teenager? Just unbearable. My heart really went out to that parent, and what they must have been feeling. I don’t know how a person would get through it. I really don’t. 

I felt like writing a song for that parent, to honor the feeling we all have that we want to help our child, and do whatever we can to soften the blow of the trials of life. It is a reaching out kind of love, a hand outstretched. Sometimes the child will take the hand, and sometimes they won’t, but the offering is there. When a child makes their own choice different from our own, it can be the most joyous thing to witness, but it can also be the most excruciating. There is a lot of passion in parenting and this feeling of reaching out seems to me to be the strongest one that underlies the whole entire spectrum of parenting. For all the mistakes we inevitably make, we can always go back to the concept that we want to try to be there for our kids. 

The song started from this place, this direct idea that I wanted to write it for the parent. I went home after that hike and sat at the piano I started to get some melody ideas from playing around, and then I just recorded stream of consciousness words to go along with it. I did this for a few days, being sure to just say whatever I wanted because it probably would change later anyway. I allowed myself to have time to have the freedom to sound bad, or dumb, or whatever. I left it alone for a day and then went back and listened to the recordings and transcribed all of what I could decipher as far as words. Then the second phase of rearranging the words to make sense, happened within one day, and the song felt finished. I came back a few days later and took an entire Saturday to just substitute 2 lines of lyrics that I was stuck on. Looking back, those are the ones I am most proud of in the whole song. I saw it as a little  analogy to parenting, meaning the most frustrating part that we work through can make us the most proud.

I really wanted the song to have the intensity of emotion, but not bring you down to despair. It kept wanting to go there, because that is the main thing I was feeling when writing it. But, you know, I am more in the mood lately to try to write songs that are for other people, or for a purpose rather than just for my own “therapy”. I recently listened to my older songs and realized that some songs have to be written and are more for my emotional purging, and some songs have to be heard because they are more for other people. Even though this song started out as a song for the parent in this situation, it also really resonated with my teenage daughter, and as she listened to an early version she felt like I was singing it directly to her. It was a moment I’ll never forget, and in some ways each time I play this from now on, I know it will take me back to the memory of playing it for her for the first time.

These are the lyrics for the song:

"Let Me Try"

When you calm down we can talk about all the things that you said in your rage.

I can’t even hear you and I know that I don’t know everything,

but I can see the look on your face.

And I know that face I’ve seen it in just about every position; a smile, a frown, and

now frozen.

And when the numbness settles in, it seems like noone’s getting in,

No matter what they say to you.

 

But I wanna try.

I wanna try.

I want to be the one to be there for you.

I wanna try. 

Let me try.

Let me be the the one to be there for you.

 

What you left unspoken I picked up as broken pieces trying to set it right.

This is only one moment in a stack of growing memories fading into our history. 

I am an observer in the night, watching you leave yet holding you tight. 

You’ll never know my love for you.

Listen, I know you try to keep it in, but I see that your thoughts are hidden and

you say you can’t let me in.

 

But I wanna try.

I wanna try.

I want to be the one to be there for you.

I wanna try. 

Let me try.

Let me be the the one to be there for you.

 

Thoughts Behind the Painting

After the song was complete, I started on the painting. I immediatly knew the colors needed to be limited to cool tones, and light forms emerging from deep darkness. The concept is also about wanting to hide things inside and loving the mystery of despair, or the feeling of power one gets from “holding it in”. I did a lot of that as a teenager, and I remember feeling so proud and powerful that noone knew what I was feeling. I could project myself as being fine, but inside I was really suffering.

The vision for this painting was immediate, and it was one of those moments where I knew I had to just drop everything and follow the inspiration. I was able to do the entire thing within two long sessions where I kept myself in that emotional state. The colors resemble bruising, and the forms are defined by the shadows, so it is more on the side of the child hiding, or wanting to remain in despair, or boxed in with the straight lines and forms. The sides have the feeling of expanding or reaching, but they are not overpowering the situation in the diagonal middle. It is more about the balance of reaching out and hiding away. The flat light forms in white and blue are meant to be the obvious things we can see about a person, all lined up just as we expect them to be. 

Here is the final artwork. It is a 30x30” Oil Painting on Gallery wrap Canvas.

 

 

As I reflect on this process of pairing a song with an artwork I am really quite energized by the complexity. Music is abstract just like my paintings, and when you are able to see and hear the same concept, it is really thrilling. The music is a language just like color and form are a language. The words are the thing that binds them together and solidifies the concept to be communicated.


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