New Bern, NC – INTRO - Asheville's Eliza Lynn is preparing herself for her next leap to full-time musician. She recently left a full-time job as a diabetes wellness coordinator for the YWCA, though still doing some part-time work along those lines as she gears up to make the plunge. She hopes to be a musician period in a year's time, but like so much about her craft, she'll allow herself to get there in her own time. George Olsen has more.
Among the tools a songwriter needs for their craft, patience is among them a tool some are more adept with than others.
20:55 I am a very slow songwriter. Songwriting is the way I process what's happening in my life. It's amazing how a song can last for 2 minutes and be the product of years and years of processing.
Asheville's Eliza Lynn. She's not joking about songwriting being a lengthy process for her. She often doesn't measure the start-to-finish process of writing with a stop watch but with calendars several of them.
23:52 Honestly, this is the first song I started writing and it took me four years to finish it and it's a really simple song. I just have this desire to not push my songs and be patient and they tend to finish themselves eventually.
Eliza Lynn with Wake Up almost the title track from her new release The Weary Wake Up. The disc is what radio old-timers ok, me would call AOR all over the road. There's Eliza's funky moment and her ragtime moment and her riot girl moment and her Peggy Lee jazz moment and her old-time moment mixed with a little hip-hop moment. All over the road? Heck, the road is barely discernible, but it's all held together with Eliza's buoyant nature. In our conversation I told her my impression from listening to her music was this was a girl who in high school danced her way from algebra class to chemistry class. She said that wasn't too far off the mark and partially explains her musical variety.
00:43 I'm a dancer. I've done modern dance and African dance and belly dance and all kinds of things and I dance at home and I dance to all kinds of different music. I think that effects me. I have because I listen to music as a dancer and I like to switch things around so much. I think that affects the way I make a CD.
She's even financed the making of her CDs The Weary Wake Up is her 2nd following 2006's Frisky or Fair in a buoyant dancing-between-classes manner pre-orders. Buy my disc now and I'll use that money to record, produce and print one truly about as grass-roots a method of high finance as you're going to get and it works. She says that pre-order method netted $4600 for the production of Frisky or Fair with some members of the community going above-and-beyond.
12:24 My friend, who is deaf, he's 82 and bought 10 copies. That was really just a wonderful show of support. I really do feel like, in order to be an artist, you have to be able to receive the support of your community, and I feel extremely blessed by the support of my community, and its fun.
That community particularly the clients she worked with as a diabetes wellness coordinator at the YWCA were the inadvertent prod that is moving her into the music field full-time.
04:01 Honestly, that's what kicked me in the butt and made me decide I have to go for it. We'd have different people who might be 400 pounds and so interested in having more wellness and living long enough to see their grandchildren grow up and so they would make the take the risk to get into a bathing suit and get in water aerobics even if they were deathly afraid of water, and, that's just some incredible courage. So it was then that I realized I should really go for this so I quit my job.
Her Asheville location is an inspiration in itself for access to the thriving music scene there, whether old-time or contemporary to the creatures that share her neighborhood and provided a moment of perhaps not-too-welcome inspiration for the track Stared at Me.
29:49 I had woken one day to someone on my porch and I couldn't see it was 5:00 am in the morning I couldn't see anyone there and it was actually a bear. It was hilarious. I was very close to this bear and I've never been so close and the face of this bear was huge. We were about three feet apart with the door between us and I'm totally sleepy and I start knocking on the window and turning the lights on and off and on and off, then I finally realize I've got this tiny little lock on my door and if this bear wanted to get inside it could crash the door down so I decided I'll just leave you and go back to bed.
Remarkably, to me at least, she says she was able to get back to sleep. There will probably be fewer opportunities for face-to-snout meetings with the local ursine population. As she goes full-time into music, her touring will more-and-more take her away from her comfort zone of the fan base she's built in the Asheville area. And she'll more-and-more step away from the non-music professional life she built to deal with the vagaries of life as a full-time musician touring, paying the bills, publicity, more touring, more publicity, did someone say something about paying the bills. As she said earlier, songwriter is how she processes what's happening in her life, and these inevitable pressures as she moves on have already been addressed in a ragtime inflected number called Puddin' Pie.
27:50 So many people spend so much time feeling exhausted and working themselves into oblivion. That song for me is a kind of fun way to make a little fun at myself and give myself some direction. If I don't rest, then I'm not going to see my dreams come to fulfillment. So a lot of these songs have this question, how to be myself and not work myself to the bone. And so that song is fun that it's so lively and joyous and posing that question.
Eliza Lynn will be working this weekend not to the bone, of course with a pair of shows for the Down East Folk Arts Society. She'll perform Friday night at the Trent River Coffee Company in New Bern and again Saturday at Clawson's Restaurant in Beaufort. Both shows are at 8:00 pm. Her new CD is The Weary Wake Up. I'm George Olsen.