Musicians on Call: Reflections from the hospital room
I just got home from volunteering for Musicians on Call in Nashville and I had a particularly rich experience this time. I’ve been working with MoC since summer, but I haven’t yet had the chance to write down any reflections on it. After a night like tonight, I figured it was high time I do that.
Going room to room with my guitar at a long term care medical facility, I meet the most beautiful people who are in many cases facing the end of their days, or at least the end of their days in the outside world. Their lives now take place within the confines of the hospital walls and yet still they worry over their families and their former jobs, the classes left for someone else to teach, the choir left for someone else to lead, the land they’ve left for someone else to farm. They dream of the lovers they have lost and the friends who don’t come around as often as they used to do. In short, there is a lot to be sad about in a long term care facility.
But even these broken people seem to respond very deeply to music. Those who cannot speak sometimes tap their feet. Those who cannot hear sometimes do all the talking. Those times are especially wondrous. Tonight there was a woman who warned us that she couldn’t hear well, so after a few lines of me trying to sing extra loud, she just broke in and started preaching her story. And it was a grand story. She had a strength of presence that rested in immense gratitude. She said over and over, you give, you get. She said: “People are taking care of me. I’m alive. I broke three of my fingers the other day and I’m still sitting here eating my dinner. I’ve mothered three daughters and led the church choir and always tried to kind to everyone and now they are kind to me.”
Another woman called out from across the hall asking for the music and as soon as I started singing, she joined in, as if she were my backup singer, or Aretha Franklin’s rather, she had so much soul. I’d take her on the road in a heartbeat.
There was a man who talked about his seven John Deere tractors and the 2,000 acres he could no longer farm because he’d lost his legs. And a woman who, after I sang “To Make You Feel My Love” said: “You gotta meet The Oak Ridge Boys. Now you listen to me, you go on down to Hendersonville and find William Lee Golden, the barritone. Tell him I sent you and you see what he can do for you. Cause honey, you have a voice.” She had named her all of her boys after all of The Oak Ridge Boys.
Some people don’t want to hear music when we go by, or they’re sleeping, or they’re in quarantine. On the way out of the building, a young man in a wheel chair chased me down asking for a rock and roll tune. I played “Sweet Jane” and I could tell he was remembering how to play the chords himself. Maybe he still has a guitar. I really hope he does.
@nashvilleballet ‘s ATTITUDE features the live music of @mpjmusic Matthew Perryman Jones Feb 15-17. I cannot WAIT for this and am so proud to live in a town that knows how to mix art with art. #nashville
I’m so grateful to be part of this awesome community of artists including Matthew Perryman Jones, Katie Herzig, The Vespers and more. I wrote and recorded the song “Hard Believing” exclusively for this Itunes mix and all of the songs featured on this compilation are first releases, so you’re getting a whole lot of bang for your 7 bucks. AND as if that weren’t enough, you can buy all of these artists’ albums for a discounted price for the next three weeks. Christmas gifts?! Do it!!!
I’m sitting at Barista Parlor drinking some thick dark tonic that steams its way upward into the chill fall air, thanking my lucky stars that I ended up here in Nashville at this exact moment.
I’m happy to be sinking into preparation for new record, writing and thinking and playing every day with newness. In the meantime, I’m enjoying staying in one place to see what comes to me. And here’s what’s been coming around of late.
As if these two aren’t enough to get you out of your seats, SHEL will be joining them at the Basement October 3. I had the good fortune to meet the sisters in SHEL earlier this summer and have enjoyed writing and singing with them. If you haven’t seen them perform, it is an other-worldly affair entirely. They have a beautiful new album produced by Brent Maher and if you’re looking for a little magic in your hat, you best get your hands on this quick, cause they are moving fast.
Other exciting shows and bands I’ll be checking out this week live and in stereo include
My whole life I’ve seen hearing people make a fool of themselves singing their favorite song or gyrating on the dance floor. I’ve also seen hearing people moved to tears by a single song. That was the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around.
I was born profoundly deaf and all music sounded like trash through my hearing aids.
That is until a couple days ago when I put on a new pair of hearing aids for the first time in years.
The first thing I heard was my shoe scraping across the carpet; it startled me. I have never heard that before and out of ignorance, I assumed it was too quiet for anyone to hear.
I sat in the doctor’s office frozen as a cacophony of sounds attacked me. The whir of the computer, the hum of the AC, the clacking of the keyboard, and when my best friend walked in I couldn’t believe that he had a slight rasp to his voice. He joked that it was time to cut back on the cigarettes.
That night, a group of close friends jump-started my musical education by playing Mozart, Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Elvis, and several other popular legends of music.
Being able to hear the music for the first time ever was unreal.
The following weekend, Sept 15 we’ll be playing a full band show at the first East-Centric Music Festival in East Nashville. You can catch some great music from noon- 8pm all for free! We’ll go on around 5:30pm. Hope to see you soon Nashville!
KATE TUCKER is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist from Akron, Ohio. She plays rich, emotive alt-country and americana influenced rock. Her sonic influences reflect shades of Neko Case, Cat Power, Ryan Adams, Wilco, Cowboy Junkies and Mazzy Star with occasional forays into a land inhabited by the Cocteau Twins, Blonde Redhead and David Lynch.
Growing up in a family of truck drivers, Kate became acquainted with the American road from the window of a semi. From an early age she was familiar with constant comings and goings, departures and homecomings. A sense of place, space, home, and the vast unknown continues to inform her work both in mood and lyric.
This frequent travel set in motion what would become Kate's musical journey, beginning as a street musician in Paris, settling down to make three records in Seattle, and then leaving town again for Brooklyn, Akron, and now Nashville, Tennessee.
In the midst of all this, she's built a strong catalog of work and garnered a devoted fan-base grassroots style, releasing everything on her own label, Red Valise Recordings. Her songs have been featured on Starbucks compilations, in indie films, and on major television networks.
2012 brings the release of Ghost of Something New, a collection of songs recorded with the Sons of Sweden and other longtime collaborators, in Seattle, Brooklyn, and Nashville. Kate wrote these songs while working on other projects including the White Horses LP and a second Sons of Sweden record that was never finished.
After long development, Ghost of Something New emerges as a slight departure from the melancholia of White Horses, Kate's most recent release, while hearkening back to the atmospheric mystery heard in Kate Tucker & the Sons of Sweden.
Ghost of Something New (Deluxe Version) is out March 27, 2012, complete with full album art and bonus tracks. Some of the songs will appear in the forthcoming feature film 'Everything Went Down,' directed by Dustin Morrow. This will also mark Kate's acting debut as she holds a major role in the film.
As an artist, writing and performing remain Kate's primary focus, prompting her recent relocation to Nashville. In the coming months she'll be both on the road and back in the studio, working out songs for her next record, and recording with k+nikku a new chamber rock/electro pop project based in Seattle.
More info and updates at facebook.com/katetuckermusic and youtube.com/katetuckersongs