Sunday, May 10, 2015

Song #19: Black & Blue (2015 52-song Project)

My dear friend Chris Kay Fraser (fantabulous Founder and Writing Coach at Firefly Creative Writing) requested that I include this song in my 52-song project.

In 2006 (or maybe 2007? Or 2005?), Chris invited me to play a house concert at her home, colloquially known as Pape House. I was just starting to get back into performing and Chris' invitation was an important confidence-builder for me at a crucial moment (thanks, Chris!)

Apparently, I played my song Black and Blue at that concert and Chris has always remembered it. Which is more than I can say for myself. This is one of those songs that I stopped playing entirely; I had forgotten all about it until Chris' request.

The reason I stopped playing it is because I saw a Canadian Stage production of Ain't Misbehavin', which contains the Fats Waller song (What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue. The performance of that song moved me so much that I didn't feel entitled to my Black and Blue song any longer.

Isn't that funny? As it there isn't room for more than one song written around the same phrase – although the racial dilemma of Waller's song makes it a much more compelling use of the phrase "black and blue", in my opinion.

I had to hunt through my journals to find the song and re-learn it, since I could only remember the hook when Chris requested I include it in this project. It took me a long time to find it! I thought I had two boxes of journals and this song was nowhere to be found in either of them.

Then, this week, I unearthed a third box of journals! Sure enough, this song, along with a number of other forgotten favourites, was within. 

This song was written on February 4, 1999. That was a period in my life when I really didn't know what I was doing with myself. I had been to cooking school, but didn't think I wanted to be a cook. I had not yet started to learn to be a graphic designer. 

My Journal pages for this song. These journals pages were
Kraft paper, which accounts for the quality of the images.

I did some work that year covering vacations at the job I had held in 1993-1994, right out of university. It was a reception job that I had left telling everyone that I was going to become a folk singing star. Something that had obviously not happened. I fielded a lot of questions about my grandiose plans.

And to make matters worse, my partner at the time had finished his engineering degree and was well on his way with his professional career. Hence the line "figuring out seemed so easy for you, but for me it's a choice between black and blue."

I suppose I stopped singing this song because I stopped feeling it. I became comfortable working as a graphic designer and eventually found the courage to perform as a singer. 

I wonder sometime if I'm headed back into another period of career transition. Perhaps this song will come back into more frequent rotation. Anyway, I'm very happy to be reminded of it. Thanks, Chris!

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