EH6 Festival Audition Gig…
The Dirty Goddess; The Goddess of Gloom; and the Blue in Roelle Blue.
Woodland Creatures hosted an event for EH6 Festival Leith. Originally, the idea was, that the audience would vote for a winner, and the winner would play at the Festival among established acts such as Jake Bugg and the likes.
The event was put together last minute, so the voting process has been changed. We are to hear back soon – 4 acts out of the “audition gigs” held at Woodland Creatures, will be chosen to grace the stage at the Festival.
There were about 5 other acts, plus myself, who played at the first gig last week.
I had a really good feeling about the gig, and having the support of my friends made the world of difference. It was one of those experiences where I felt I connected with the audience in a way that stood out, my songs were pre-meditated, revealing different aspects of my musical/personal journey.
My first song was a cover song, “House of the Rising Sun.” I played classical guitar and finger picked in an almost Flamenco style, accompanied with my slightly Opera, soprano style singing, a strong vibrato set this cover apart from many other reproductions of this song. Also, the song is told from a woman’s point of view. “There is a house in New Orleans/they call the Rising Sun/and it’s been the ruin of many a poor girl/and me, I know, I’m one.” I like to depict the storyteller as a woman, possibly a prostitute working in an infamous bar, who warns her sisters, never to become prey to the debaucherie and the clientele that would have frequented such a notorious place, for ramblers, gamblers and fallen souls.
The second song, I introduced my own composition. With a song from a French phrase that interprets as “There are no friends, only moments of friendship.” I joked with the audience about the perhaps gloomy sentiment here, but also the obvious truth to this philosophical observation. Again, I went for a soprano style of singing, especially with the French chorus, and the English translation that follows. Then my own story comes into play, in a darker, more conversational style of singing, I tell the story of Roelle Blue.
“they call me blue, I dress in black/when I sing for you, I must turn my back/I sing for you, here in your room/but really I sing to the Goddess of Gloom/she leads me on, she is my muse/her velvet eyes, and her bleeding shoes/I try them on, think I was born/to wear those shoes – to sing these blues!”
The sentiment is almost a parody, an exaggerated caricature of the persona that is Roelle Blue. Somewhat derived from misery, and unable to turn away from the stark, eternal truth of life. Beckoned by a Goddess of Gloom (derived from Bob Dylan’s Tom Thumb blues), she is the energy behind my songs. Not quite as sinister as a siren, but some kind of powerful entity that has chosen me to carry its message through song. Gloom has a bad reputation – people avoid it, at their own peril. But part of the story of Roelle Blue is told in a song “The Fate of Man”, wherbye, she makes a friend of death (with the most repulsive breath) and that’s why people are sometimes overwhelmed in her presence, as she does not have the same fear that they possess, so she is seemingly more gloomy, but actually, more at peace with the darker aspects of the world and the beyond.
Singing the song was even more raw, due to the recent collapse of my dearest relationship, the sad truth lingers on “all love will pass, all love will end/a passing love, a passing friend.”
Although this was one of my partners favourite songs, I avoided singing it, as it was definitely something I was trying hard not to believe – how temporary all things are in life.
But speaking of Goddesses – that leads me to another of my cover songs I played.
“Dirty Goddess” held the audience intrigued, for it did not spare any of the explicit details of the story. Dedicated to my friend and x-lover from two years ago, who sadly died by her own hand, it tells the story of a girl-woman, wildly lost in both her own world and the real world, the story follows my own journey, but the startling parallels between myself and the woman I knew, it becomes blurred who exactly the protagonist is. Absolute sensuality, surrender, and the search for security in another make for a romance-tale between someone who cares for this girl-woman. A fictional (presumably male) character who lives in the country side, a widow who lives alone in a big house with a “big four-poster” and who cares for animals on his farm, makes for the perfect nurturer to this girl who refuses to grow up (“she thinks she’s a fairy.”)
I explained to the audience, that the word “dirty” takes on a new meaning, meaning “earthy/a wild woman, a woman who may seem to live dangerously, but generally is a pure soul in an insensitive world”
The protagonist has a fascination for water (the Blue in Roelle Blue). Water is a great cleanser and somewhat spiritual factor. (connecting to my deceased friend’s obsession with bathing, sharing baths and my own love for skinny dipping in rivers and seas, and also the phrase we both loved by Sylvia Plath (“there may be many things a hot bath can’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.”)
The connection between water and Roelle Blue is significant. The album by Joni Mitchel “Blue” and the featured song with the same title.
“songs are like tattoos, you know I’ve been to sea before/Crown and anchor me, or let me sail away/Well there’s so many sinking, you gotta keep thinking, we can make it through these waves/acid, booze and ass, needles, guns and grass, lots of laughs….
“everybody’s saying that Hell’s the hippest way to go/I don’t think so but I’m gonna take a look around at the blue…”
Here, Joni Mitchel refers to blue, the big blue, the sea, but more than that, the “blues” where they come from and where they lead, especially for artists.
Recently, I’ve just turned 28. 27 is a rocky year for a sensitive musician. There is a myth in music culture as to why so many promoment artists died at this age. The connection to drugs, drink, depression and music being the outlet, but also the music industry, being the enabler to many artists… is of endless fascination. Thank God I made it to 28, because I can definitely say I wasn’t untouched by the strange myth of 27. This has been the first gig since my birthday
I had the worst birthday I could have imagined this year, but strangely, I have been having successes and developments in my music and my life more than ever before.
Let’s hope that something comes of my music career. When one door closes another opens. I feel I’m at a crucial point in my life and I am ready to confront my audiences with that notion.
Going through the hardest breakup from the longest relationship in my life, and making it to the other side (a cruel learning curve) may make or break me as a musician. For things feel so very raw at the moment and that creates an electric feeling with audiences, as they tend to be my crutch, my only outlet for what I’m going through and the way I open up with them, gives them a sense of endearment and engagement that normally wouldn’t be easy to gain.
I avoided singing any songs directly about “him”. But instead, I raked through my past, and found some parallels. I sang another original “Invisible Man.” The audience laughed at the incredulous notion of me chasing a fugitive around Spain, and forming a love relationship with a man on the run, someone off the radar and someone that invoked a dangerous feeling.
“Tell me how do you find an invisible man/they say I’m out of my mind, but I know that I can…/He wanted me near, wanted me to disappear with him/into the sea of chaos/but I don’t know, if I could swim, and what’s the use in drowning….?”
This line probably summed up my feeling to my current situation. How can you help someone if they do not want to be helped? Or if they will not help themselves? Or if it is actually you risking your own wellbeing? Perhaps every relationship is a reflection of our own wounds, or own issues. Whether we look for someone to help us, or we look for someone to help, without even realizing so until it’s too late.
I finished Invisible Man, with an added new lyric, to mark a realization I hadn’t had until I sung it again that night.
“Tell me how do you find an Invisible Man/They say I’m out of my mind/I know that I am.”
The last few words, possibly signified, that I realized that I was crazy for trying to do something I knew was impossible. The Invisible Man is a metaphor, of course, for someone that is a ghost of themselves. And although the ghost is beautiful and, perhaps, to me, hauntingly attractive, the quest to change someone or make them better, is not my job, its not our job to save others. We can guide and encourage people but we must understand where our boundaries are, and what are our limitations. More than anything, we must never risk our own safety our sanity. Trying to “find an invisible man” is like trying to chew your own teeth. Just as the Invisible man is invisible, so is the scorpion a stinger (as the frog realised as they both sunk in the pond before reaching the other side_ it is simply its nature and cannot be changed.
I finished with a cover song “The Queen & the Soldier.”
Another dark romance tale, but let’s just say, again, I added a new lyric of my own to Suzanne Vega’s beautiful, goose-bumpy tale that leaves no prisoners.
“the battle continues on.”
I think that sums things up, in both the story of the Queen and the Soldier, as well as the story of the Invisible Man, and the story of Roelle Blue, who is Kirsty Heggie in day-to-day life and is still battling on.