we filter things through lenses.
there’s this song by sinead o’connor that i ran across over and over when i was thoroughly listening to the album it was on, back in the early 90′s i think – the song is “black boys on mopeds”, and there is this line that goes “i love my boy…and that’s why i’m leaving; i don’t want him to be aware that there’s any such thing as grieving.” but i thought it was “…i don’t want him to be aware that there’s any such thing as gravy.”
that would have seemed funny, but for me the lyric i heard made perfect metaphorical sense. i thought it was a statement about excess. being mostly unaware of the political context of the song, and having been raised by a mom who valued frugality, grit, and self-reliance, it didn’t occur to me that sinead would sing about removing her son from a condition of emotional hardship.
this evening, having recently spent time with a group of people whose purpose is to learn how to find their own freedom in the face of any life condition, i am thinking of that song again. and i still pine for the “gravy” lyric. not because i want sinead to deprive her son of something awesome (if you think gravy is awesome, which it is not) — but because “i don’t want him to be aware that there’s any such thing as grieving” means she wants to shelter her son from a real honest-to-god experience, which is sadder to me, because honest-to-god experiences are the whole point of why we came here, no?
i love that song – nothing wrong with it – and don’t hold my parallel up to the light, it probably won’t completely hold. things just make you think about other things. and here’s where i got with this: my mom let me cry in my crib. she wanted me to learn to soothe myself. and as an adult, as i shed more layers of what-society-wants-of-me, my mind is throwing forth salient memoirs like “black boys on mopeds” and crib crying, as if to offer them up for re-examination and propose a connection…. and i’m realizing (as i write this) that the skill of knowing how to find my own happiness is coming in handy.
i wrote this for the press. i used capitalization and everything. it tells of the “master plan” for 2014. i think we’re doing pretty well! thought i’d share it with you.
About Re-ĭd (the short version – the long one is below):
Everything I’m doing right now with my pop-noir band stephaniesĭd is happening under the umbrella of what I call Re-ĭd. Re-ĭdis shorthand for “the re-imagining of the ĭd”, and is designed to study and evoke the part of a person that is capable of wildness and freedom (the ĭd). If the most important function of art is human connection, I hope that Re-ĭd’s multi-media experiments will attempt to address that function by building stronger community, and teasing out authentic personal exchanges. Initially sparked by a desire to gather fans’ stories, Re-ĭd’s projects include Night of Bravery (a segment embedded in a series of residency concerts (May 2014) that include a fan-participation segment in which participants are invited to do something brave), the Lonely in Manhattan Multigenerational Live Music Video (shot in March 2014, aimed at capturing the struggle to connect), and the Miranda July-inspired Learning-You fan-art assignment website (hopefully launching later in 2014). My hope is that Re-ĭd will evolve into new experiments as current projects evolve and grow. [For more about how Re-ĭd came about, see backstory below.]
About the Night of Bravery series:
It seems easier than ever to connect with other human beings. But is it? Are these connections real? Award-winning pop-noir band stephaniesĭd sees one’s ĭd as the wide-eyed, wild, impulsive being that resides within us. The band wants to conjure the voice of the ĭd underneath social media posts and beneath the veneer of our daily interactions with others. But one must be brave to listen to the ĭd. After a wildly successful sold-out run in Asheville, NC, in May 2014, stephaniesĭd is taking Night of Bravery on the road. Night of Bravery features a performance of the band’s unique, multi-influenced music in 2 acts, with a 20-minute segment in-between, during which volunteer concertgoers are invited to use up to five minutes on stage to perform an act of bravery, aimed at piercing the walls between people. stephaniesĭd’s Night of Bravery series is meant to be full of music, community, and personal stories. No two Night of Bravery segments are alike. The band hopes that attendees will come away feeling slightly more free and honest. Potential attendees should note that there is no requirement for participation on stage. Potential Night of Bravery participants should contact the band at firstname.lastname@example.org before the show to discuss your act of bravery. Night of Bravery might recur if we all find it successful.
About the “Lonely in Manhattan” Multigenerational Live Music Video:
Written perhaps 7 years ago, inspired by my friend Marcella, the stephaniesĭd song “Lonely in Manhattan” might be the most direct expression of the reason behind the music of stephaniesĭd. Marcella said, as we drove through the Holland Tunnel, on our way home from New York City: “So many zillions of people live in this city, and yet I know there must be many people who are very lonely.” I wrote her thought on a post-it note, and I began to explore more deliberately the feelings of isolation in myself and others. Now I understand more clearly the fuzzy impulse I had years ago to start a band centered around the ĭd – the ĭd is the wild being within. When I sing “Lonely in Manhattan” at live shows, I often feel the connection that it elicits from fans. Perhaps it is this living quality that has never allowed it to be successfully recorded on a stephaniesĭd studio album. The “Lonely in Manhattan” Multigenerational Live Music Video project attempts to bring the honesty of my friend Marcella’s observation into recorded form for people stephaniesĭd has not reached with a live show. The video will capture a simple live performance and enlist singing children as symbols of the wild inner being in each of us, which I call the ĭd. (Shot in March 2014, releases Fall 2014.)
Learning-You is an interactive art and music website wherein I post assignments for participants to complete and share. In the tradition of Learning to Love You More (www.learningtoloveyoumore.com), the now-completed project curated by artists Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher, the site is open to anyone interested in creating something original and joining with the community by sharing it. I initially designed this part of the Re-ĭd series to learn more about the ĭds of stephaniesĭd fans; after initial site-testing, this desire has expanded to that of exploring the creative commonality of humans everywhere. The site will hopefully launch in Fall 2014.
Stephanie Morgan, Artist Statement (the longer, more personal story)
Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki says, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
How does a long-touring pop/rock artist maintain a beginner’s mind?
For me, writing and singing for stephaniesĭd has always been a vehicle for conjuring the voice of my inner wild, free being, which I call the ĭd. This is the part of a person that knows how to create, connect and express authentically, despite the well-meaning gatekeeper of ego-armor we enlist to do the talking for us as we become adults. In the early days of the band, we were experimenting with what to reveal about ourselves, how to construct songs to best express all of that, how to find people who were on a similar journey, and how to find connection with our pop-noir music in the US south. Some of our trials worked, and indeed our voice grew clearer. We began to connect. As we toured to different cities, I noticed a sort of commonality among our fans…. many were in transition, or trying to summon the bravery to shuck needless obligations, or were searching for light in some way. I found great kinship in this realization as a whole. So I wanted to know more about our fans’ stories, beyond after-show hi-fives. I wondered how I could make this more of a dialog.
Ironically, at that point, the ego-armor swooped in. True dialog would require a different kind of vulnerability for me. Somehow releasing album after album of open-hearted music, winning some nice awards, and playing on larger and louder stages only gave me more places to hide. Our live shows were good, and it was quite possible that our fans knew the best of me. What if the boring rest of me were outed?
After 10 years of playing music on stages with stephaniesĭd, I found myself stuck in a sort of vortex. I couldn’t seem take the next step in the fan-band relationship, but I feared that if I took a break to figure things out, our fans would leave us, that I would lose my identity, that I would get old and out of touch and never be able to return to rock ‘n roll.
I don’t think fear is a good reason for anything, so just like before I started singing, I allowed myself to travel in whatever creative direction pulled me, and I happened upon acting school. This began a life-changing hiatus.
Learning a new artform gave me a new lens through which to view my relationship with music. On top of the problem I knew I had, I discovered even more blocks. I allowed my classmates to know me well, outside the world of music, and was thoroughly reminded that real connection and meaning is in the subtleties, not the big stuff. We grappled with questions about the purpose of art in people’s lives, and I considered my place in the machinery. I began to rediscover my beginner’s mind. Now, I know that there is no end to the grappling. There is only trying and re-trying, entering and re-entering, letting it all hang out.
I know now why a former manager said to us, “You’re not the kind of band you can just call up your 100 closest drunk friends to come see.” I know now why I envy those bands, but why I’m not one of them. And I know that my purpose is ultimately a more intimate one than I’d thought, being a conduit for authenticity, revealing my whole self and all of its imperfections, while attempting to provide a safe place for others to do so. After more than a decade of performing, I have a renewed and re-imagined desire for dialog with the people who have connected with our music.
I am nervous and excited to both present to the world and invite to myself the experience of Re-ĭd.
here you are, my friends. we worked hard on this! the full studio version of this song is also shaping up to be wonderful, and will appear on our new album. here’s an awesomely pared-down performance, with fun surprises. just do me a favor. please share with your friends and family, and tell them about the band. oh, and please leave comments somewhere – i want to hear from you. xoxoxo – steph
i tend to experience the world through a filter that allows me to hear the voice of the human ĭd in everything. i received this sweet video from maria popova (via brainpickings.org) outlining the 4 functions of literature, and the ĭd is there. in it, philosopher alain de botton explains: We’re weirder than we are allowed to admit. We often can’t say what’s really on our minds. But in books we find descriptions of who we genuinely are and what events, described with an honesty quite different from what ordinary conversation allows for. In the best books, it’s as if the writer knows us better than we know ourselves – they find the words to describe the fragile, weird, special experiences of our inner lives… Writers open our hearts and minds, and give us maps to our own selves, so that we can travel in them more reliably and with less of a feeling of paranoia or persecution…
i hope to be the kind of writer and singer that can “find the words to describe the fragile, weird, special experiences of our inner lives.”
drummer tim just emailed me a beautiful article written by dan rather. tim said in his message to me, “it’s about “so much more than baseball.” indeed, whether you know anything about derek jeter (i don’t), or baseball, is irrelevant to the understanding of rather’s perspective on the inevitable marching of time and the stark reality that we are all human, after all. jeter is retiring, not because he can no longer physically handle the game. according to mlb-writer paul hagen:
He’s leaving because his instincts, which have always seemed to guide him so unerringly, told him he should.
rather tells us:
We have learned that this star athlete, who played on baseball’s biggest stage and whose private life glittered with the bright lights of Hollywood, is human like the rest of us. He spoke of holding back tears and some of the uncertainty of what’s to come.
jeter said in a press conference:
I’m looking forward to doing other things in my life. This is a difficult job. I put everything into it each and every year. It’s not a six-month season. It’s 12 months. Again, I’m looking forward to other things. Not yet. But the idea of doing other things is what I’m looking forward to.
what strikes me: none of us is absolved of the responsibility of choice, of being the architect of our own lives. and none of us is is exempt from navigating the unknown territory we put ourselves in when we exact a choice for ourselves, especially when rejecting other, familiar, options.
thank you, derek jeter, for being human, in front of us.
our song, “baseball player”:
Friday May 2nd
Friday May 9th
**Saturday May 17th
Friday May 23
Friday May 30
All ĭd Weekly events are all ages // $5 // 7-9pm
Part stephaniesĭd house concert, part speed-dating-ish variety show, ĭd Weekly focuses on encouraging that part of one’s ĭd that is responsible for fun and for that wide-eyed quality one can only have with a beginner’s mind. Taking place in the intimate upstairs “living room” stage at the beautiful Isis at dinnertime, where fans can order chef-prepared food and drinks, the night is meant to be full of shared stories, flubs in the execution of new songs we hope to put on an album this year, and unique fan interaction opportunities to help us all learn more about each other. Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki says, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” My hope is to play a lot of music and get to know fans’ stories in this intimate setting, and that attendees to ĭd Weekly come away with a greater sense of community and playfulness, and a desire to keep the dialog going.
xoxoxooxoxox from our family homes… steph and chuck in abilene, texas; tim in bangor, maine; justin in albuquerque, nm; and jacob in san antonio, tx. we hope you and yours are warm and close.
“If I could get up on stage and ________, even though I’m scared, it would do me a lot of good, and then I’d be able to ________.”
Night of Bravery is designed to show the naysayer inside your head who’s boss.
Q: What is Night of Bravery?
A: A crowd-participation exercise in which pre-selected audience members are given up to 5 minutes each on stage in order to do something brave.
Q: Is this an open mic?
A: No. For now, it’s a segment of each ĭd Weekly show wherein you must meet criteria (described below) and be asked onstage. However, it’s ok to perform something (e.g., a song or comedy act), if your performance meets the criteria.
Q: What are the rules? How does it work?
A: These are the rules:
1) Is the act/task/performance one that would make your life and spirit feel more awesome if you gave it a go (you will be required announce what it is and why it would help your life)?
2) Would doing this task/act/performance, tonight, really require bravery from you (be ready to explain what fear you’re trying to bust by doing this)?
3) Is it important that this performance/task/act will be done publicly (be ready to explain why)?
Q: What are some things people might do on stage at Night of Bravery?
A: That depends on what’s scary for that particular person.
Q: When is Night of Bravery?
A: There are 5 dates in May 2014, all between stephaniesĭd sets at the ĭd Weekly residency at Isis Music Hall in West Asheville, 7-9pm: 5/2, 5/9, 5/17, 5/23, 5/30
More questions? email@example.com
May 2 (Fri), 7pm
May 9 (Fri), 7pm
May 17 (**Sat**), 7pm
May 23 (Fri), 7pm
May 30 (Fri), 7pm
Isis Music Hall, West Asheville, NC (upstairs) $5 admission (tips accepted) Part stephaniesĭd house concert, part ĭd-style variety-show, ĭd Weekly focuses on encouraging the voice of one’s inner wild being–the ĭd–the part of a person that is responsible for that wide-eyed quality one can only possess by using a beginner’s mind. It is meant to be full of shared stories, working out kinks in the execution of new songs we plan to put on an album this year, and unique fan interaction opportunities to help us all learn more about each other. Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki says, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” The evening will include a special segment called “Night of Bravery” during which attendees are invited to use five minutes on stage to do something that pushes a personal comfort-zone limit, for a specific positive reason. The band hopes to get to know fans’ stories in this intimate setting, and that attendees to ĭd Weekly come away with a greater sense of community and playfulness, and a desire to keep the dialog going.