Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TVD Takeover | The Mynabirds

Yesterday's drive from Maine across the White and Green Mountains to Burlington afforded me a lot of time to let my mind wander. I put my old iPod on shuffle and let it go where it wanted. It played some Brian Eno, Caribou, Clash, Jefferson Airplane, went on a nice sidetrack through Duke Ellington and Glenn Gould, and landed on a strange piano piece that sounded familiar, but I couldn't quite place. I grabbed the iPod to check out who it was and laughed out loud when I saw the artist and album: Laura Burhenn, Not Ashamed to Say. How is it possible I couldn't place something I wrote, performed, and recorded myself? It's probably a good thing -- I've come a long way since I made that first solo record at 17.

Since I was driving alone (the rest of the band opted for a day off from driving in Burlington), I decided to listen to the whole album. There were some pretty painful parts (hearing my 17 year old self doing her best Nina Simone and Tori Amos impressions), but there were some good seeds. I remembered how bold and self-assured I was back then. And as my older self, I felt grateful that I had people all around me who encouraged me to keep going: my mom who lent me money from a nest egg she'd been saving my whole life to let me start my own record label (Laboratory Records) Ani Difranco style, and all my friends who came to those shows in the early, super awkward years, helping me carry my enormous keyboard up and down endless flights of stairs to supremely bizarre bars and venues to play to supremely bizarre crowds. I also felt slightly worried that I'd look back on my latest work (What We Lose in the Fire We Gain in the Flood) in ten years and wince. Oh well, if that happens, it only means I will have kept growing. And that's not such a bad thing, I guess.

After I put out my second solo record, Wanderlust, in 2004, I put out a split 7" on clear vinyl with my then boyfriend, Dagon James, who's now publishing an amazing art/music/fashion magazine in NYC called LiD. We pressed 500 copies. I'd be surprised if we even sold 100. We had a release party at a venue in Adams Morgan who's name is currently escaping me -- they had weekly open mics and an upright piano on the stage that had its back to the window to the street. (Speaking of open mics and upright pianos, I have a real fond spot in my memory for the original Food for Thought on Connecticut Avenue, with its big red upright piano. That's the first open mic I ever played in my life.)

I haven't listened to that 7" in years. I recall that my side of that record was particularly rough. I meant well with my stripped down arrangement of drum machine, thrift store toy organ and bare vocals, but that organ was incredibly out of tune and pretty piercing on the treble end. I've got a big box of those records in storage somewhere. Maybe I'll pull one out in a few years and give it a listen. I like to have a little more space between the me of me then and the me of me now so I can reflect on how far I've come. Maybe after the *next* Mynabirds record comes out...

Kaleidoscopic Sunset somewhere in New Hampshire (maybe near the clean slate of where the Old Man in the Mountain use to be)

The Mynabirds - Let The Record Go (Mp3)
The Mynabirds - Numbers Don't Lie (Mp3)
Approved for download!

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