Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Sleepwalker's Bed: Introduction

Four years ago this month, I thought my life was over.

When you feel like everything has been leading up to one event, what comes after that? In November 2007, I had just turned 19 and welcomed a thousand copies of my newly-printed album into my college dorm room. I had spent the summer in solitude recording my life's lessons in song, and now I was surrounded by the fruits of my labor in plastic-wrapped jewel cases. And I had no idea what to do next.

Of course life went on. I've grown, I've moved, I've written many more songs. But though she may seem like a stranger at times, the idealistic sincerity of the person who made that album is essential— it's still part of makes me me.

And so, as I make the transition from calling A History of Sleepwalking "my album" to calling it "my first album," I think it's important to revisit what made those songs so important that I had to set them down. For the next few months, I will be writing about one song from the album per week. I'll talk a little about the recording process and the story behind the song (though hopefully not so much that it will upset your own story for the song). You'll be able to download that week's song for free. You'll also be able to watch a video of me playing a stripped-down version of the song live (this means I will have to relearn how to play some of them! eek).

I'm calling this series "The Sleepwalker's Bed" for two reasons: first, we are exploring the roots of the album; but secondly, and perhaps most importantly, we are finally putting an end to the Sleepwalking period and moving on to new adventures that I will be sharing with you as our journey comes to a close.

So grab a blanket and a glass of warm milk and settle in for an exploration of the people we used to be. We'll have many new songs and stories to share when we reach our destination.

Love,

Jana

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'm Afraid of Zombies

I'm not afraid of riding my bike in New York City traffic. I'm the only person I know who isn't afraid of cockroaches (the ones in Florida are bigger).

But I am afraid of zombies.

Not that I've met one in real life, of course. But there are so many good ones on TV ready to eat us! And they're hard to forget. I saw Robert Carlyle in Once Upon A Time the other day and I was worried he'd kiss someone and go on a rampage like in 28 Weeks Later.

Unfortunately this fear has begun to affect my everyday life through my obsession with The Walking Dead. You know, the show about Ranger Rick and a bunch of useless women running from very realistic (though can they be realistic if they aren't modeled on real creatures to begin with? I don't know) zombies in Georgia. I know every show there's going to be some zombie that pops up, some conflict about maybe leaving someone behind, some talk about how they'd probably be better off dead, but still I watch the show anyway.

This became a problem on the way home from DC. I had just played a three-hour show at Black Fox Lounge for some amazing, gracious people and I was on an endorphine high, talking and dancing like I was on speed. Our bus left a dark parking lot near Union Station around midnight, and I was somehow supposed to sleep. (Have you ever tried to sleep overnight on a bus? Bring flip flops. Your feet will swell so big that your normal shoes feel like they're made of fire ants.)

I drifted in and out of consciousness until 3am, when we stopped in Philly. And then the bus broke down. The driver couldn't close the back door or something silly, so for 45 minutes, he'd run the engine for 10 minutes, shut it down, and try again. Finally we decided we couldn't sleep through that anymore.

"You have The Walking Dead on your computer, right?" Sam asked.

"This is probably a bad idea, but oh well," I said.

We pulled out my laptop and shared a set of earbuds for the episode. Miraculously, the bus started moving then and everyone else went back to sleep, but at 4am the deserted streets of Philadelphia looked eerily like the streets of Atlanta that weren't inhabited by rabid zombies. We were tense from being creeped out in a cramped space where we had to be vewwy vewwy quiet.

The characters were wandering around the woods when one (useless) woman got separated from the group. Some person came at her with his arms outstretched. I stared at him for a full five seconds before my exhausted brain realized what he was: A ZOMBIE!

I yelped. Loud.

Everyone on the bus rose out of their seats and started snarling like zombies.

But somehow I'm still alive.

I must have an overactive imagination.