I was in LA over last weekend. I went with my husband to see his kids, do a little promotion.... but I also got a chance to see my friend Christine Mason Miller. She just published that book I keep mentioning here, "Ordinary Sparkling Moments." I keep finding new gorgeous depths in its beauty and wisdom.
I went to see her studio while I was there - she'd just finished a bunch of new work for an exhibit in LA, and I was the first to glimpse "Ernestine Elam." Well needless to say it was love at first sight. There is just something about wings, birds, flight, going on this year. Hmmm, come to think of it, I guess it's been going on forever actually! Anyway, I had to buy her.
Christine Mason Miller and her new beauty: Ernestine Elam
I also thought it quite fitting that Christine has a wall of inspiration too. Hers is way more organized than mine, so I'm definitely getting a big bulletin board for my wall. I think we need those daily reminders, some kind of proof that we're not alone battling with/waiting for the muse. I always have to tell myself when the 'i suck' knob gets pinned on 11, I have done this before, so I will do it again.... but the pictures and notes certainly help.
christine's wall of love
I was also reading a book Christine gave me called "The War of Art." even Steven Pressfield talks about his superstitious work methods:
"My lucky hooded sweatshirt is draped over the chair, with the lucky charm I got from a gypsy in Saintes-Miries-de-la-Mer for only eight bucks in francs, and my lucky LARGO nametag that came from a dream I had once. I put it on. On my thesaurus is my lucky cannon that my friend Bob Versandi gave me from Morro Castle, Cuba. I point it toward my chair so it can fire inspiration into me. I say my prayer...."
You get the picture. I am so superstitious about inspiration and still in awe of the mystery when it arrives. Most important, as we all know, and as the book pounds home, is getting in there and just doing the work.
But first...(is this what Pressfield calls resistance in the book?) we had to go shopping, and brought along the famous sock monkey hat that was a big hit at the Squam art workshops. I think of it as a little cultural experiment, the great ice-breaker. No matter how cool we think we are, we all look about twelve years old in the sock monkey hat. And it's just plain fun. Kinda freeing actually.
Our favorite sister stores. Footsie and Pink Lily on Montana.
There's gotta be a song in there somewhere!!
I can't wait to get to the UK this weekend. Better bring the hat. See you there.
And the fun is just beginning.
Yesterday i had the pleasure of taping three songs and talking with one of my all time fave deejays Claudia Marshall at WFUV here in New York. It's always like coming home with her. And she said something that totally made my day -- that she felt like this record, even though it's Woody Guthrie's lyrics, really felt like quintessential Jonatha. I hadn't been able to put that into words, but I realized then and there that it's true. It was so natural and inevitable that this record came to me, I just had to get out of the way.
Claudia Marshall and JB
Then last night, I had the good fortune to visit the amazing Joey Reynolds Show. He has a syndicated talk radio show on WOR (should be podcasting later today) I've never been around someone who can think more quickly, and then speak in time with that brilliant a mind. You never know where the conversation will turn, but the facts at Joey's fingertips are MIND BOGGLING. And somehow at the end of each session, whether it's rocket scientists, chick singer-songwriters, or shrinks, he manages to say something incredibly powerful while tying together every thread that he has woven. Treasure.
Joey Reynolds and JB (Liz Elayne bag)
waiting for Joey, can you believe I found a plaid hat to match my behemoth knitware? gottta love the streets of New York.
Finally, my pal Ronnie White ('Birds on a Wire' from the new album) had an open house at her art studio last weekend. We've been friends since 'Grace In Gravity,' she designed the bad dog logo, the little ballerina t-shirts. Anyway, she finally came out with little alphabet books that all her fans have been CLAMORING for. I'm ordering TEN. They look nice with the record and the t-shirt, huh! You can see more very soon. I will keep you posted about how to check out her art.
Ronnie's open house table of goodies.
Off to tape "Weekend Edition" with Liane Hansen. I'm such a big fan. What an honor to be on her show. We'll let you know when it will air.
Cheers for now,
Sometimes when i hit the wall with a new song, (today) I have a new distraction. I used to just do laundry, or make more toast. Now I knit. In fact I am obsessed with knitting. When I fall, I fall hard, and completely. In the last year I have made 4 hats, five scarves, and 3 and a half sweaters and one third of a shrug. I chalk it up to the long hours on planes and buses and in cars. But it's really the color, the feel, and the satisfaction of actually making something. I don't paint. Don't tend to draw, and in fact I'm always mortified when someone wants me to draw a picture for them in the autograph line after gigs.
Knitting is my other creative world. I'm still a beginner, but I just finished this sweater coat thingie. I "really neeeeeded it" for those freezing cold plane rides so i could keep knitting.
Photo: Andrea Scher
And I love going to the knitting store. I meet amazing people that I would never know otherwise. Politics are definitely lively topics. Books, husbands, and yup more patterns that are MUST KNITS.
all the pretty colors at Annie and Co.
Nancy has the patience of Job. And somehow explains things so they make sense to me. (No other way I would have finished that behemoth.)
Nancy and me
And wouldn't you know it, today they had a half off sale on "Cashmere Elite."
Ohhhh, cashmere. Legwarmers? Wrap Vest? What could I do?
Now I'd better finish that song.
I'm actually home for two weeks. This is rare. So I'm writing and reading and stocking up for the road.
I think it was Mati Rose's blog where she talked about grateful friday. Well here it is Saturday and I have so many ideas for new songs and i'm friggin' grateful. So many times, it seems I have to go into this treacherous dark pit to distil and percolate before new songs will surface. But not lately. It all started last October with the Woody project, and I swear his energy is still swirling all around. Not to mention all the fabulous artists from the last journal.
Anyway, point is, I wanted to share a few pix of my little altars of inspiration in my little music room.
Here is PIG from my super amazing photographer friend Linda Hansen. She did a whole series of her son's plastic animals, called "Life in Plastic." She also did all the pictures from "Back in the Circus" and "Careful What you Wish For." (we still have some one time Circus prints if you're interested.)
I have Pig staring right at me in my chair and I basically think he's saying "get to work, stop being so damn precious with yourself."
Top left is Woody, my "Little Bird." From the time I wrote that song for the new record and even now, if I sing that, I get unstuck. Woody was that free, he didn't seem to have the 'I suck knob' that most of us do.
Leonard Cohen. I cried through many of his songs when i finally saw him last summer at the Montreux Jazz festival.
A note from my friend Matt at Disney.
"Live Life" with the little upside down bird. I love this. I can't remember who gave it to me... somebody at a gig. But I've kept it ever since.
Notecard by Brian Andreas from Elizabeth at the Squam art workshops.
If that isn't enough, there's "rock star Jonatha" created by four super fans whose names, alas, fell off the back of the polaroid they stuck to Barbie. I love this doll like nobody's business. I hope they know.
they even created the sequel doll: "Big Top Jonatha" and brought it to the Anspacher show. Am I lucky or what?
for those of you who've heard the story, here he is: "Stilt Boy." One of my best friend, Ronnie White's early creations. I call this stilt town. Three boxes that my brother crafted that I cherish, a cigar box full of letters that have totally made my day, and a handmade paper collage box from WAY WAY back in the story days. most of the lyrics have fallen, but it's "Barefoot Ballroom" from The Angel in the House.
Back to work, PIG's glaring at me.
All the Crayons (courtesy of Jen Diamond)
It's been a whirlwind. So many new opportunities coming my way, and I'm loving ALL of them. I got to go to Houston (before the Hurricane) and work on some songs with Joe Sample. He's been working on the idea for a musical for over ten years now, and I'm lucky enough now to be in on shaping up some lyrics. More on THAT soon.
Eric Bazilian and I tweaked our little theme song for Joss Whedon's new show "DOLLHOUSE" which I'm just DYING to see. I think the pilot is OFF THE HOOK. The show premiers in January with the new season of "24." (nice company.)
My little Tinkerbell song is supposed to come out on a gorgeous new Disney Records compilation on October 14th. It's called (my song) "Be True." I love trying to see things and write them from an innocent perspective. It brings out this whole different side of me. But I find it incredibly powerful. I think everyone who played on the track got a little misty. Big classic concepts like 'being true to yourself' are always in vogue!!
My love affair with Philadelphia continues. Apparently "More True Lovers Than One" is doing quite well there. I got to tape a "World Cafe" session recently with the ever enigmatic, fabulous David Dye.
David Dye and JB
My pal and rock god hero Eric came and sang and played on our little duet. Always such a treat.
Then back to LA to work on one more song with the gorgeous Nolwenn Leroy. Just can't get enough of her.
And, as if that wasn't enough...
I just got back from an artist's retreat in New Hampshire. I think I've never been around so many inspiring, like-minded, creative, joyful spirits. EVER.
Squam Art Workshops Here is Elizabeth, the Squam mastermind and sprite
I was there mostly being an assistant for my friend Andrea Scher.
She was teaching courses on photography and life coaching. I got to perform a little bit throughout the week, (Yup, it was my first gig at a bonfire) but for me it was more about connecting with kindred people, re-electrifying the mojo, and participating in Andrea's beautiful sessions.
Well, CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. First of all, I've never even had a grown up camera, so I ran out last minute and bought one. Our photo assignments were addictive. I fell in love with trying to capture the essence of a person. It was a revelation to me that within five minutes of meeting someone, I could see their beauty, some kind of deeper self.
Or total goober alter ego!! Andrea as Janis Joplin
(wigs were the revelation)
At the same time it felt like a week of being deeply SEEN.;)
Not for what I do, the songs or my history, but basically for my core self. The goofball 11 year old with a treehouse and braces and the wrong blue suede clogs. Or way too many necklaces and that crazy fro wig and an apron!
The aprons were another FIND. Liz Elayne Lamoreux had us all clamoring for her fabric brilliance.
There were no divas, no weird defenses. Yet so many exquisitely talented artists there. It was pure joy. And such an honor to be there. So, a few pictures of the sirens of Squam Lake!!
Kelly Rae Roberts, Mati Rose and JB
Kelly Rae also has a beautiful new book out about creativity and possibility. BUY IT.
Mati Rose makes incredible necklaces and other ART. I had to have her sock monkey pendant. Beauty AND humor.
Christine Castro Hughes everyone needs a superhero helmet!
Sunday, Christine Mason Miller and I did a little in-store in Center Harbor New Hampshire. She has a stunning, astounding new book: "Ordinary Sparkling Moments" BUY IT. Christine Mason Miller
JB, Jen Gray, Christine Mason Miller, Elizabeth
The most beautiful little boy, Miles, was there, rapt with the music, and we all lost it in the middle of "Sweetest Angel." It just doesn't get any closer to home than singing that song to a perfect new soul.
love muffins. Andrea, Denise, Jen, Thea, far right, goddess, photographer helmet hero.
Now, I'm just revving up for touring. Ever psyched to sing. I fall more and more in love with these new songs each time I sing them. I'm still just full of the whole last few weeks. Absolutely inspired, writing like crazy. Life is Good. I can't wait to see you all on the road.
p.s. did you catch "careful what you wish for" and "eye in the sky" on the hills? OMG