My Thoughts On That
Thanks so much to Joseph Timmons of IndiePulse Music for this thoughtful review of my debut book!!
From soulful songs of love and loss to empowering anthems of courage and heroism, Meghan Cary is renowned for her innate ability to connect with others through authentic storytelling. Now, after the release of her latest album hitting the top of the charts, she has taken her passion for prose one step further with the release of her debut book Sing Louder: The Stories Behind The Songs.
Sing Louder: The Stories Behind The Songs, which was officially released last March on International Women’s Day has been lauded as a brilliant first release of intimate stories, prose and literary work. We at IndiePulse often receive books from artists, some are biographies taking note of accomplishments, some with stories from the road and of “Rock & Roll” legend, more are tribute to the artist’s virility or youthful transgressions…. But this book by Meghan Cary is so much more, said in a way that is truly her own and in her own voice.
The companion to her critically-acclaimed album Sing Louder, this mesmerizing collection of essays provides fans with a deeply introspective look into the inspiration behind her most profound album to date. Featuring 10 first-person stories, each dedicated to a different song, the book begins with an eloquent forward from the author before delving into the raw, compassionate and sometimes downright hilarious side of one of Philadelphia’s favorite female folk rock artists.
“I’ve been telling my story from the stage for years – in song and in words. But I really enjoyed digging even deeper into the stories behind the songs on “Sing Louder” to write this book”, said Cary. “So much good can come from sharing our stories. When we hear and relate to someone else’s story, we’re inspired to share our own, and maybe even write a different ending”.
Sing Louder: The Stories Behind The Songs is a collection of her life, songs and intimate thoughts, addressing her life, her work, love and loss, as well as being a parent. With the bulk of her references based in her personal experiences, she does her best, and with great success, to not make the book “about her”, but more about the person she became, who she was meant to be, mentioning her influences, friends, children and the people that impacted her life. Her reasons for doing what she does and why it is so important, the muse of the universe touched her and Meghan answered without reservation.
In Sing Louder: The Stories Behind The Songs, Meghan discusses with the reader the larger impacting aspects of her existence, the road marks and landmarks that altered her course of action, the reasoning for the life changes, taken out of context to her music, one may not make the connection. But after looking through the book, reading the lyrics of the songs enclosed, the poetry of the music, for they are the keys to understanding her life, both lived and still living, one will understand.
My only issue with this book is, well, it was too short… her humble nature, I believe, gave her reason to not dwell on the vague aspects or drudgeries, but to the facts, the most important occurrences, and like her music, it was sweet and memorable, and it leaves you wanting more. I would hope Meghan comes out with another book, titled “The Song Continues” for this book was music for the eyes, and a symphony for the mind.
Sing Louder: The Stories Behind The Songs is 35 pages and includes original photography from Meghan, as well as art work and imagery that has inspired her songwriting process. It was edited by Linda Waverka and is being self-published by Meghan and Peter Farrell, her husband and musical partner.
Meghan Cary: The Stories Behind The Songs will be available at live performances, and online at www.MeghanCary.com
I wanted to share with you how the final weekend of April showed up for me. It was a whirlwind (there’s that word again!) of wonderful musical events that strengthened my faith in humanity. I stumbled into May exhausted and hung over from the adrenaline rush, but also, and most importantly, knowing: we can do this. We can make a difference. We can be the difference. We just have to do it together…and out loud.
We kicked off the final Friday of the month with “Maids of the Maid”, a benefit for Mothers in Charge at the legendary Mermaid Inn. Four female-fronted bands rocked the Mermaid to raise awareness and funds for this violence prevention, education and intervention-based organization. Part way through the night, with the room all warm and vibey from the music, two representatives from the organization stood up and spoke about their mission and shared their stories. It was powerful and empowering. We were the final band, and just before midnight, we closed the show with all the female performers joining us on stage singing “River Rock“. Cue the chills.
After a short night, we organized the kids and the puppy, and geared back up for a busy Saturday of two shows in two states. Saturday afternoon we were honored to share “Responsibility“, “River Rock” and “Sing Louder” at the closing reception of We Are All Homeless right here in our home town. This profoundly moving project was created by artist, Willie Baronet, in response to the awkwardness he felt whenever he encountered someone holding a sign asking for help. So he began asking them if he could buy their signs. Willie has purchased more than 1,300 homeless signs over the past 24 years, and uses this collection to create art installations to raise awareness about homelessness.
In the process of gathering signs, he found himself engaging and connecting with people living on the street, and experienced what a difference that simple act can make. Willie went on to film the award-winning documentary, “Signs of Humanity” (which was also screened at the closing event) chronicling his trek across the country speaking with homeless people and buying their signs. If ever you have an opportunity to see this exhibit or the film, please jump at the opportunity…it is beyond description.
Thank you to Father Jim at St. Miriam’s Parish and Friary in Flourtown for bringing Willie to our community and for all you do to help the homeless population right here in Philadelphia.
We drove straight from Willie’s incredibly powerful event to Oxford, CT for yet another connection-fest…a house concert at the home of our great Falcon Ridge Folk Fest friends, Barbara and Paul Kelemencky. We were greeted at Chestnut Tree Hill with yummy food, festive drinks, and a room full of warm and welcoming hearts. I love a house concert, and this was no exception. The vibrations unifying us all as we raised our voices together created a palpable shift in the energy of the room. It was just what I needed to confirm what I’d been experiencing all weekend: When we raise our voices together, we create change. In the room, in our lives, in the world.
We finished our show, but it was hard to end the evening (in fact I did a piss-poor job of it! Sometimes I have trouble disconnecting. I’m okay with that.) Eventually we wrapped the music and conversation and fell into bed, only to wake up a few hours later at 4:30am to drive to Berwyn, PA to load in for our final concert of the weekend…
I can’t tell you how many 100’s of people gathered in the park Sunday morning to run for awareness and prevention of melanoma cancer. You can check those numbers online at melanomainternational.org. But I can report that Team Jackson kept us awash in bananas and soft pretzels throughout our 3 hour show, and then brought me to tears when their fearless leader, 10 year old Jackson, stepped up to the mic to accept an award for raising the most funds that year…in the name of his mom who had died of melanoma.
These people are strong. And they are strong for each other. And I was honored to be sharing my music and my story with them.
That was how April ended for me. I wanted to share it with you.
Last night at the Hurdy Gurdy Folk Music club was an amazing evening for so many reasons. Sharing the stage with Christine Lavin, Rob Carlson, and The Whispering Tree was inspiring and just downright fun. It was an honor to support Ron Olesko and his long running radio show, Traditions on WFDU-FM, and wonderful to meet so many music lovers who tune in to hear what he has to share every week.
The cherry on top was seeing dear friends, Debra Sperling, Adrian Tridel and their beautiful daughter, Logan, and watching them meet the woman who wrote the song that is the reason they are together. Musical magic for sure!
This is the story of my breakfast with Dion: a story of taking responsibility.
Do you know someone who is stepping up and taking responsibility for creating and nourishing kindness and humanity? I’d love to hear about them. Please share your stories here with hashtags #takingresponsibility and #meghancarymusic.
Last weekend in DC, a stranger changed the course of my day – and many others’ as well, I’m guessing. Dion works at the Fairfield Inn and Suites Downtown/DC serving and cleaning up after the breakfast buffet that comes free with every stay. Midway through the Sunday rush, he stood in the middle of the makeshift dining room and asked for our attention. We settled surprisingly quickly for a room full of hungry strangers. Dion introduced himself and welcomed us to the hotel. He introduced the other server and the chef, and told us to ask him or them for whatever we might need. He explained to us that while we were there at the Marriott, we were “family”, and would be treated as such.
He paused for a moment, and I figured the rather unique and pleasantly personal plug for the hotel was all he had. But then he asked for our attention once again, and went one meaningful step further. He asked us to consider something more important than whether we needed another pat of butter for our toast. He asked us to consider what we (the collective “we”) really need in life.
Dion commanded our attention with his warmth and vulnerability. He looked me in the eye and spoke directly to me. I’m guessing everyone in the room felt the same. “We’re all family. That’s why it’s important to be there for each other.” He went on to explain how easy and important it is to be there for even the strangers we pass on the street. He asked us to meet a stranger’s eye today, smile at them, say hello. “You could really make someone’s day just by doing that.”
Dion finished, thanked us for our attention, and went back to work. We went back to our steam tray eggs and turkey sausage, but the room was different. Dion had, in those few moments with those brief remarks, changed the energy of the room. We were no longer strangers sitting uncomfortably close together in a hotel lobby trying to eat our individual breakfasts without interruption. We were now a room full of folks sharing a meal. I found myself talking music with the young woman and her mother from Shreveport, LA sitting at the table next to me. Conversations bubbled up in pockets all around the room. The energy lifted. The shift was palpable.
What Dion said about connection resonated with me profoundly. It was in such harmony with what I say every time I introduce, “Responsibility”, the song I wrote about the homeless crisis in our country. So, I got up and found Dion by the lemon poppy seed muffins, and told him about my experience when I first moved to New York City, how I was overwhelmed by all the people living on the street, and felt like I couldn’t do anything “big” enough to help. I told him about the “ah-hah” moment I had when I realized that we as humans need to and find joy in connecting, and that I can make a difference in the lives of the homeless in my area by acknowledging them, speaking with them, connecting with them on a human level, even if I can’t find homes for or feed each and every one of them.
As I told him about “Responsibility” and why I wrote it, Dion began to tear up. When I finished my story, Dion shared his with me. “The people here at this hotel saved my life”, he said. He went on to tell me that he had been homeless, living on the street with his wife and kids when he finally got a job at this hotel as a valet. After a few months working outside, management came to him and said they’d notice that guests and employees alike gravitated to him, and they felt they needed him working inside. So they promoted him to the job he has now. In the spring of 2018, he moved his family into their own home. Now it was my eyes that misted.
Dion’s story stayed with me as I stepped onto the crowded elevator to go back up to my room. When the doors closed and the box full of strangers began to climb, a woman near the back piped up: “How’s everyone doing today?” And to my surprise, we all piped right back: “Great!” “Really good!” “Just fine!” She asked us each where we were from, and the conversation grew from there. This was not, in my experience, a common occurrence – 10 strangers on an elevator talking, laughing, connecting – it was a direct result of the words of wisdom Dion took the time to share with us. We reached the 5th floor and I reluctantly left the party.
On our way out to explore DC, I found Dion once again to thank him for making such a difference in my day, and in the world in general. I gave him a copy of “Sing Louder”, and he introduced me to his wife. I don’t know if I’ll ever see Dion and Evelyn again, but my breakfast with him changed the course of my day, now my week, and I expect my life. I will carry Dion’s story with me always.
Thank you Dion for taking responsibility.
Four Session Workshop at the Philadelphia Folk School Starts Tuesday October 9th!
In the moment coaching on the stage with an audience of your peers. Identify ticks and tricks that aren’t serving you on stage. Connect with your story and draw your audience into it. Step out of your comfort zone and Continue reading
I love it.
In pretty much any shape, size or consistency as long as it’s dark. The darker the better. I’d eat the raw cacao bean if I could. Why is this challenging in my life? Because as much as I love it, and as much as the experts say dark chocolate is actually good for you, I know I can’t eat it day in and day out and at the exclusion of anything else. Oh but I’d love to.
And so it is with music. I love making it. I love writing it, performing it, recording it. I even like practicing it…some…not a whole lot…but I digress. And the challenge there is the balance thing again. Because the dishes still need to be done, the kids need to be fed, the dog needs to be walked, and there’s even the stuff that sounds like music, but really is just plain business: booking, promoting, arranging kid care and puppy care while on the road. It all has to get done. And what I’ve been finding (and sorry for taking the winding way to get to this…waxing philosophical and perhaps managing a bit of a chocolate craving at the moment) is that unlike chocolate, which I indulge in regularly and perhaps more than I should, I tend to deny myself music making in lieu of all the other stuff.
Why is that? I mean, I know it all needs to get done. But the reality is: it will. And it will take whatever amount of time I allow it. So if I start with the music making, sit down to write the song or record the idea before checking my email, or scheduling those promo posts, or writing that press release, or even before I do the breakfast dishes, well, then I’m guaranteed some music making in my day. And the other stuff will still get done – in whatever time is left after the music making – instead of the other way around.
Maybe that’s my summer goal: indulge in what brings joy. Savor it. Go back for maybe a little more than I think I should be allowed. Bring on the fudgesicles and s’mores…summer is upon us!
Hope to see you somewhere along the sunny summer road!
Another Thing I’ve Learned on this Adventure
White Space. It’s an idea I hadn’t considered until the other day when Peter told me about Warren Buffett’s calendar. Apparently, his little black appointment book (as noted by Bill Gates in a meeting a few decades back) is full of empty. Buffett credits his creativity and out of the box thinking to that emptiness, that white space.
Well, wow. My calendar has always been anything but white. It’s a beautiful rainbow of colors from kid stuff in violet, to music stuff in green, through grown-up fun in yellow, all the way to healing and exercise in red. But very little white space. Packed…pretty…and pretty overwhelming. But I put my nose to the stone and grind through each technicolor day, finding joy in all the bits, but also managing a subtle anxiety that maybe I’m missing something. And when something falls out – 3rd grade family fun day cancelled for snow, online seminar rescheduled due to illness – I’m ecstatic. The gift of unscheduled, unowned, uncategorized time, time to just “be”…that’s it. That’s the thing I didn’t even know I was missing until I got it.
So, as I’ve begun to rebuild my schedule, restructure my daily routine, and revisit what are the essentials in my life after my surgery-imposed step away from the game, I’ve decided to include more of that blissful white space in my day. I don’t always succeed. But when I do…wow. It’s amazing what can come of an hour of nothing. Nothing can lead to so much more than moment after moment of something: songs, stories, organized drawers, silly games with my soon-to-be-too-cool-for-such-silliness 12 year old, masterpieces of magnetic engineering with my never-before-into-it 9 year old. Given a moment to breathe, life presents truly magical moments. Moments that I could have never imagined, let alone scheduled into my day.
So…white space. Something to contemplate. But I will resist the urge to put that on my schedule.
P.S. We got a puppy. Not sure how that fits into my white space plan. I’ll keep posted!
I love stepping on stage, connecting with my audience, and taking them for the ride. It never gets old, and it never ceases to lift me up. I think every artist can and should have the opportunity to experience that joy, freedom and confidence on stage. That’s why I coach privately and offer workshops in performance, songwriting, and managing the business of music while living a full and fulfilling life. To claim that joy and freedom for yourself, contact me at email@example.com, and we’ll create a coaching series that works for you.
Join my mailing list to find out about upcoming Workshops and Shows.
“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
– Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille –
It’s amazing how something so all-consuming will eventually fade into the background. I think it was when I was first able to tie my own shoes again. I think that’s when I knew the story of this last 7 weeks was ceasing to define me, and this whole adventure was on it’s way to being a memory.
Then last Thursday (with Brooks neatly tied) I picked up my full-size Taylor for a vocal rehearsal. Bigger and heavier than the GS mini I’d been noodling with from my chair for the last week or so. Peter was laying down a rich bed on the keys, Linda Waverka, Marion Halliday and Lisa Jeannette were creating beautiful harmony, and before I stopped to think, Continue reading
…and when it’s all over, I get to sing with you and play for you again!!
The last month for me has been challenging and enlightening in ways I hadn’t expected. In mid-February, I stepped away from my everyday routine to have that “wee bit of back surgery”. All went well. They took a few things out, put a few things in, sewed me back up and sent me home a few days later. And from here forward I’ll set off the metal detector every time I pass through.
Three days in the hospital were a blur of sleeping, waking, rolling over (which took a good 5 minutes and intense mental effort each time) and sipping water through a straw. I was very dehydrated, and I remember trying at one point to eat a graham cracker…not a good idea when one has absolutely no saliva. Continue reading