Author: Laurie Early

songwriting tools on a chair

Lyrics to Ponder (1)*

Summer is here but we are all still inside, waiting for the opportunity to enjoy the sunshine with those we love. While I am waiting, I am so grateful for friends that are contacting me and asking me about musical things. I might not know all the answers, but it is lovely to be asked. Yesterday I got two thought-provoking requests; one was about writing lyrics, and the other was a question about an unusual love song. I will touch on these topics a bit this month, but if you have any thoughts to continue the discussions, please add them in the comments. And, at the bottom of this page you will also see a couple of interesting reference links related to standards in general. *Yeah, I added the number one to this blog post title because I expect to have a follow-up post in the same format for July. Stay tuned. LYRIC WRITING TIP (June 2020): Even though there are plenty of songwriting resources, online and offline, to get your writing started in a …

No Words

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” –Aldous Huxley There is so much going on now that I am at a loss for words for this month’s post here. I am turning to music to help me keep my center. I hope all of you also have music in your life. My dearest wish is that my friends and family are all safe and surrounding themselves with things that make them feel comforted as imbalances around them are corrected. Please know that even if I have not spoken to you, I DO care for you, I DO think of you, and I am sending you the energy from deep within my heart. Stay well, stay strong. -Laurie

The Sound of Community

I know I worked a little past 7 PM Wednesday night because as I was filling out my timesheet, adding up the time I had spent on different projects, I heard the sound of my community cheering in gratitude outside my window. “Ah, it is seven!” I thought to myself, and I began to sing a little of the tune “Thank You Very Much” from the movie Scrooge. Here in New York City, as in other cities around the world, we are all very grateful to the healthcare and other frontline workers who are keeping us healthy and safe, or being there with loved ones when family and friends cannot be there for them. There is a lot of gratitude mixed in with all the other emotions that come and go each day during this time of social distancing and self-isolation. At 7 PM each night, during this time our New York Gov. Cuomo has called PAUSE, the sound of community is clearly heard. Last week I heard a bunch of people singing “New York …

circles and shadows pattern

Finding the Upside

For this month’s topic, I will highlight a form of visual poetry I have been creating during this time of self-imposed ‘social distancing’. So, this is my attempt to focus on the upside of isolation; an opportunity to explore creative projects I enjoy, but at a deeper level. However, I will begin with a personal insight from earlier this week.  You see, as I come to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic that is totally changing our daily lives right now, it occurred to me that my life has *already* been shaped by another pandemic. I grew up with a keen awareness of the sudden, devastating and traumatic power of influenza. I was aware of this because a beloved Aunt’s mother was struck down by the Spanish Flu when she was just a small child (1918-1920). Her widowed father re-married and he had two more daughters, the younger of which became my adoptive mother. My Aunt V loved her step-mother (she called her “Mamma”) but the loss of her first mother was always acknowledged as a …

Ebb and Flow

Hibernation Mode

Most people do not know that I enjoy soft-block carving and printing. Years ago I carved stamps of different sizes of this 7-petaled, “CREATIVITY”, Adinkra symbol. I used my stamps this month to finish up a sketchbook I titled Ebb and Flow. It needed to be mailed by February 15th to the project organizers and I was very happy to have the pressure of this hard deadline to motivate me to do something creative as I have not been feeling well for several weeks. I will spare you all the details, but I caught a horrible cold on top of a recurring nerve pain in my lower back. These and other issues have kept me home bound (aka “hibernation mode”) for most of this winter, however I am proud to say I have been using my alone-time constructively. In addition to working on the Sketchbook Project (which I will briefly outline further down this page) I have spent an inordinate amount of time decluttering and sorting through all of my art supplies. For example, every sheet of …

My 2020 Notebooks

Preparing for 2020 (Keeping Notebooks II)

FLOW is my chosen theme word for 2020 and I have been focusing on staying in a calm, creative mindset  as life swirls all about me. I am exploring all my art supplies, organizing all my music projects, and gathering and sorting all kinds of multi-media materials–my inspirational triggers, all in an effort to keep me in a creative frame of mind for the year ahead. Today, when I decided to write about this theme here, as luck would have it, my first issue of Flow Magazine arrived in the mail from the Netherlands–a holiday gift subscription from my mother. I took it as a confirmation from the Universe that I am truly in the groove! Part of my personal process, as one year ends and another begins, is to prepare a daily journal to reflect on my theme and to note the things in my life that make one day different from the previous ones. I find that if I do not keep this practice, one day can blend into the next and into …

Today’s the Day!

Happy 90th Birthday to Dr. Barry Harris! Many of his loved ones, friends, and students are gathering tonight in New York City to celebrate this wonderful occasion. I want to take this opportunity to post my crazy little birthday song in the hopes that I can sing it to him at some point. Happy birthday, Barry! And happy birthday to anyone who hears this song on the day chosen for them to be born here on planet Earth (big smile). Today’s the Day! Listen to “Today’s the Day!” by clicking here. Today’s the Day An original “Happy Birthday” song by Laurie Early. Today’s the day today’s the day today’s the day that you were born and the world’s not been the same not since you learned your name on this wonderful day when you were born. Today’s the day today’s the day today’s the day that you were born and the world’s not since we heard your name so here’s a HOORAY! that you were born on this wonderful, marvelous, glorious, fabulous, (can’t say enough ‘cause …

Vegetables in Manhattan (A summer fluff piece)

I almost cried when I saw the artichoke; it seemed to be trying to hide from me as I lifted off a small cardboard cover. I did not yet know what other surprises awaited me but it almost didn’t matter because I knew that a Sicilian-style stuffed artichoke was in my near future! This is the story of my third weekly shipment of fruits and vegetables from Misfits Market, a delivery service that brings farm-fresh produce right to my door. I also like how it forces me to plan my meals a little more thoughtfully as I need to eat (and/or cook and refrigerate) everything while it is still fresh. As some of you may know, I live in Manhattan. There are no farms here, at least none that I am aware of. I had a dream once of growing vegetables on a rooftop garden. I took a bunch of books out of the library and researched what I would need to do to build an elevated garden based on the square-foot gardening system. Unfortunately, …

Bird Feathers

A quick post this month as I have been resting and healing and generally catching up on musical and personal projects. I have learned a new song in Italian, “E la chiamano estate”, polished the vocalese on a couple of Lester Young/Teddy Wilson tunes that have been on my “FINISH THIS NOW” list for a long time: Our Love is Here to Stay, and Blues in C Sharp Minor, and started writing lyrics for two original melodies (for two new friends). I have some good starts on a few original tunes too, so there is something to be said for being house-bound another month with my sciatica issue. Here is a bit of vocalese from 6 years ago. Barry wrote lyrics on Bird Feathers that are really fun to sing. We perform this song in his choir, but I wanted to sing it as a solo and to keep going a bit longer, so I wrote this additional lyric. The cool thing about this is that the word at the end of each section matches …

Becoming collage

Magnets and Distractions

My back is messed up. No use in going over why this happens to me periodically. I will accept that it is for me to deal with even though the initial cause was out of my control. Yes, I know what I am supposed to be doing to avoid a recurrence of this pain–yet it continues to plague me. I should avoid sitting for long periods of time in folding chairs. I should get up at least once an hour and walk around. I should not sit hunched over my computer for 6 hours straight. I should lose weight. I should practice yoga more consistently; the list goes on and on. I understand that other people deal with chronic pain and have much more intense experiences than the few weeks I am disabled by sciatica pain and random back spasms. Perhaps they have ways to deal with it other than the ice packs, ibuprofen, bedrest and stretching exercises I use as my main healing techniques. Mostly though, I wait and DISTRACT myself with work, sleep, …