30-day song challenge (21-30)

Here are all my selections in a Spotify Playlist

And here’s a YouTube Playlist, since I started to encounter things that weren’t on Spotify.

Here’s my post of days 1-10

And here’s 11-20

Day 21: Jolene (Miley Cyrus)

For this one, I decided to go with one of my runners-up for a cover.

I considered “Where is Claire,” a song by Buffalo Celtic Rock band Jackdaw (no longer together), but it doesn’t seem to exist online and I didn’t want to go through the effort of making it exist online.

So, today’s selection is “Jolene,” as covered by Miley Cyrus.

(I couldn’t find this one on Spotify, so here’s a link.)

Day 22: Break My Stride (Matthew Wilder)

Runners up: I’m On My Way, by the Proclaimers
Up! by Shania Twain
Send Me On My Way, by Rusted Root
Day 23: Dirty and True (Hawksley Workman)

So. The more vague these things are, the more I struggle with my choice. What song do I think everybody should listen to? ALL THE SONGS I LIKE. 

I’ve tried to narrow this one by setting myself some arbitrary rules. For example, I’ve decided not to repeat an artist (which eliminated “Boat on a River” by Styx).

I’m going to go with this odd little song by Canadian artist Hawksley Workman. I love it. I hope you enjoy it!

Day 24: My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors (Moxy Fruvous)

By the time I moved to Western New York, Moxy Fruvous had long stopped performing. I used to hold out a tiny shred of hope that maybe, one day, they would reunite for some performances. Alas, that is never to be.

I was going to go with “King of Spain,” which is a song that never fails to make me feel a little bit happy. (And never fails to make me furious when I see it show up on “Worst Canadian Songs Ever” lists), but I went with this one instead…it’s one of the covers Rand and I performed in our first concert together. (I think I have video of that, but we did not upload it to YouTube.)

Day 25: Starman (David Bowie)

Gotta admit, I thought about using a Prince song, but there’s no way to post/share a Prince song, so…

Today’s choice is “Starman.”

He’d like to come and meet us
but he thinks he’d blow our minds…

(oh, and please enjoy this ridiculous cover from “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.”)

Day 26: Safe in the Arms of Love (Martina McBride)

Martina McBride has the voice of an angel.

This version of the song came out in 1995. (It was recorded and released earlier by other artists, but didn’t become a hit.) I had the album and liked the song, but I really latched onto it a couple of years later, after my first “real” relationship fell apart and I was hitting that mid-20s stage where you’re sure you’re going to be alone forever.

This song picked me up and let me hope.

“My heart’s not ready for the rocking chair
I need somebody who really cares
So tired of livin’ solitaire
Someday I’m gonna be
Safe in the arms of love…”

Day 27: I Dreamed a Dream (Les Miserables, performed by Anne Hathaway)

After thinking way too long about this one, I’m going with “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Mis, which is just one song of many I could have chosen from this musical in particular, never mind all the other musicals I could have chosen songs from.

Day 28: O Holy Night (performed by Collin Raye)

Because it’s Christmas Eve, I’ve chosen my favorite version of my favorite Christmas hymn. In addition to Collin Raye’s lovely tenor, I like this version because it includes what Rand and I call the “social justice” verse:

Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and his gospel is peace
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother
And in His name, all oppression shall cease

There were several runners-up for “artist whose voice I love.” Some of them (like Michelle Dockrey, Murray Head, and Martina McBride) have already appeared on this list. Others, like Jodi Krangle, I’ve mentioned in other comments (Check out Starsoul, or The Lady.)  And of course, how could I not mention my own darling husband, Rand Bellavia. (Here’s a link to Hollywood’s Ending, from Oh Okay LA)

Day 29: Total Eclipse of the Heart

I remember listening to this in the car with my mom. I’m pretty sure she had a cassette with Bonnie Tyler on one side and Air Supply on the other, which gave us two Jim Steinman tracks on the same tape!

Day 30: Belle (Beauty and the Beast)

Okay, so it ended up taking me longer than 30 days to finish this, but I finished it. Nothing terribly profound to share here, but Belle has always been the Disney princess I most identified with. Books! Brown hair and eyes!

30 Day Song Challenge (11-20)

Here are all my selections in a Spotify Playlist

Here is my post of days 1-10

Day 11: Single Ladies (Beyonce)

So, I did actually start doing this yesterday, but I got distracted. I had an unusually hard time making up my mind. I decided it should be a song that, by all reasonable standards, I *should* have gotten tired of at some point. So here’s my selection.
Also considered: Bad Romance.

Day 12: Livin’ on a Prayer (Bon Jovi)

I was in 6th-7th grade in 1986. I loved Bon Jovi. I never really got over it. Deal with it. 😉

Day 13: (Jesus Christ) Superstar (Murray Head)

I really struggled with this one. It turns out I like a lot of songs from the 70s. 🙂 I decided to go with this song, from one of my favorite musicals. Here’s “Superstar,” as performed by Murray Head (and the Trinidad Singers, apparently).

Day 14: Easy Silence (Dixie Chicks)

So, I posted about this one a while back, choosing “Follow You, Follow Me” by Genesis. but looking over my list, I see that it’s really male-dominated, so I decided to pick a different song from our actual wedding playlist (which was also rather male-dominated. Hm.)

So today’s choice is “Easy Silence” by the Dixie Chicks, from their fantastic album Taking the Long Way.

Day 15: Red Right Hand (Vixy & Tony)

So, there are a number of artists that I appreciate WAY more when they are covered by someone else. Tom Waits. Lou Reed. Even, to some extent, Bob Dylan.

I fell in love with this song when I first heard Vixy & Tony perform it…I was previously unfamiliar with it. And since I knew it was a cover, one day I thought I’d check out the original.

And oh. Oh yes. Go ahead and put Nick Cave in that category.

(This post was nearly a tie between Every Little Thing (He) Does is Magic by Shawn Colvin and Jolene by Miley Cyrus. Maybe someday I’ll make a whole list of cool covers I like.)

Day 16: Alone (Heart)

So, I pondered a bit about what “classic” means. Since it’s not really defined, I figured it could mean whatever I wanted it to. I also figured that 1987 is long enough ago to be “classic,” much as it pains me to admit it. 😉

Anyway, I’ve posted about this song before. I’ve joked before about Heart’s cheesy 80s power ballad material, but every time I hear this song, I’m struck by how good it is. It is so. good.

(we shall not speak of their 1990 #2 hit. *shudder*)

Day 17: Friends And Lovers (Carl Anderson & Gloria Loring)

Truth be told, I don’t have the pipes for this, but I can dream a little…so, as you may know, back in my preteen and teenage years, I was an avid viewer of Days of Our Lives. Gloria Loring played lounge singer Liz Chandler, and she performed this song with Carl Anderson in…1985, I think? The song charted in 1986.

You may also know Gloria Loring as the vocalist for the theme from “The Facts of Life.” (She was, at the time, married to Alan Thicke, who composed the theme.)

My runner-up response for this one was “Islands in the Stream.”

Day 18: Waterloo (ABBA)

I love ABBA. I love this song. I don’t know what else to say about this one. 🙂

Day 19: Under the Carlaw Bridge (Lowest of the Low)

The Canadian band Lowest of the Low–in particular, their album Shakespeare, My Butt–got me through my 20s.

Here’s the last section of the song:

Well, now my coffee’s gone cold
But my heart’s gone colder
I think I’m reading too much
It feels like twenty below
And it’s a kick in the nuts
When your vision clears up
And you realize you’ve only been playing with change
There’re people more together than you’ll ever be
And it makes you want to ask yourself, “What’s happenin’ to me?”
Because it ain’t clear
No it ain’t clear
What the hell am I doin’ here?
No it ain’t clear
But it rings in my ears
Somewhere under the Carlaw bridge
(My friend Jen and I once drove around Toronto looking for places mentioned in Lowest of the Low songs. We hit a bunch of them, but never did find the Carlaw bridge.)

Day 20: Nasty (Janet Jackson)

I was about to publish this post without an entry for day 20–I just couldn’t come up with anything. And then this came to mind at literally the last second.

30 Day Song Challenge (1-10)

Here are all my selections in a Spotify Playlist

Day 1: Mr. Blue Sky (ELO): Literally the first song that came to mind when I read the prompt.

Day 2: Bubblegum 45s (Jim Boggia/Jonathan Coulton): Jim Boggia is a singer-songwriter Rand introduced me to. This one’s interesting in that Jonathan Coulton has a songwriting credit. I think the story is that Coulton wrote a song that he ended up not using for anything, and Boggia took it and wrote new lyrics. (I don’t know if he rewrote the melody.) I’m going to share the album version, and then in the comments, I’ll post a live version of him performing it with Coulton and Paul & Storm.

Day 3: Fantastic Voyage (Coolio): There were a number of ways I could have gone with this…but I thought back to songs that remind me of a specific summer. (I dug up an old blog post about this.)

I spent a lot of time driving around in cars, forced to listen to the radio in the summer of 1994. Here’s one of the songs that reminds me of that summer:

(I also considered posting “Here Comes the Hotstepper”)

Day 4: More than Words (Extreme)

This song reminds me of my high school boyfriend, and that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

Day 5: Renegade (Styx)

Despite having grown up in Steeler country, my selection of this song has nothing to do with football. I just like it.

Day 6: Uptown Funk (Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars)

I never, ever get tired of this song.

Day 7: Carry On Wayward Son (Kansas)

I knew day 7 had to be classic rock. I wavered on my specific choice, but settled on this.

Day 8: The Old Black Rum (Great Big Sea)

Day 9: Just Can’t Get Enough (Depeche Mode)
So, this is hard. I have an entire playlist on youtube that’s titled “BE IN A GOOD MOOD” that’s meant to be a pick-me-up when I’m feeling down. And this list is far from complete.

When I replied to Rob’s post on this day, I chose “Wandrin’ Around” by Carbon Leaf. And that’s a good choice. It always makes me happy. But today, I think I’m going to go off list and choose a song by a group people don’t usually think of when they think “happy.” 🙂

Day 10: Cranes Over Hiroshima (Fred Small)

Well. There were certainly a number of songs I could have chosen for this. I actually browsed a list of the 50 saddest songs of all time, and no arguments from me, for the most part. I considered choosing their #6 choice, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” by George Jones, which may just get my vote for saddest song ever.

But instead, I chose this one. The first time I heard it, I just cried and cried and cried.

Rand and Erin album update (Seanan McGuire Indiegogo perk!)

As you may know, Rand and I are working on an album together. I’ve already shared our Indiegogo link once, but I wanted to take a moment to highlight a really special fundraising perk.

In 2013, we were invited to be the Filk Waifs (Toastmasters) at FilKONtario and our dear friend Seanan McGuire agreed to write our bio for the program book.

Of course, if you know Seanan at all, you’ve already guessed that what she supplied was no ordinary bio: she wrote an original short story, casting the two of us as characters. That story has only appeared in the program book, until now!

Campaign pledges of $30 or more get you a digital copy of that bio/story! And that’s not all the Seanan you’ll find on this project!

One of the tracks is a parody of Seanan’s song “Dear Gina,” with lyrics by me and Merav Hoffman. The song imagines that October Daye has gained sentience outside book world, realizes that Seanan is the one doing all of these horrible things to her, and threatens revenge. 😀 (You can see the lyrics, and an early performance of this song, here.

(Additionally, Seanan is going to supply us with some vocal tracks!)

I hope you’ll click the link and find out more about our project!

OVFF concert set

Rand and I had a truly fantastic weekend at OVFF. Among the highlights for us was our 4-song concert set on Sunday afternoon, during which we got to debut 3 new songs that will appear on our upcoming album! (Here’s our Indiegogo page, if you are so inclined!)

The four songs we played were:

I’m a much more confident performer than I was four years ago at FKO, and I owe it all to this wonderful, supportive, nurturing community. Thank you for making me believe I could do this!

I’m so proud of the songs Rand and I have written for this album. They are all the results of truly collaborative efforts–I don’t (yet) write any music, just lyrics, so the music/melodies are all Rand (except “Do As Peggy Says,” which was a collaboration with Adam!). With only a couple of exceptions, all the original lyrics on our upcoming album were written by the two of us together, with the actual process varying from song to song.

And I can’t end this post without mentioning the amazingly talented Amy McNally and Brenda Sutton, who helped make “Nasty” everything we dreamed it could be. <3

We also got to spend some time hanging out with the whole Vixy & Tony band to talk about some tracks on the album they’re going to assist us on. (squee!)

I’m probably not going to get around to a full con report, but it was an amazing weekend filled with friends and music and laughter, and I’ve got a bit of the back-to-work blues today. (And as usual, there was too much to do and I did not get around to a whole bunch of things I had planned on doing, so my apologies to anyone I neglected!)

As always, many thanks to the ConCom for all you do!


Lyrics by Erin and Rand Bellavia, music by Rand Bellavia

My story’s been told and it’s older than time
Older than fables or nursery rhymes
They try me then try me then try to set fire to me
Though I’ve committed no crimes

Whatever the scene they aim to demean
Peasant, princess, servant or queen
They try me than try me then cry to the sky
Unclean, obscene, and everything in between

No broom or bubbling cauldron
There’s no evil in my eye
But if whatever I do is called sin
Then I confess that I

I am nasty
I am timeless
I will not be silenced
I am alive with fire and fury
And I will fight til the tide has turned

We are nasty
We’re the forsaken
We will not be shaken
We are the daughters of the witches
That your fathers failed to burn

You say that you’re blessed
There’s no need to redress
Surely your best
Destiny’s manifest

Then profess I’m possessed
You detest and arrest me
And suggest I confess to my sin

But as you might have guessed
I’m less than impressed
You’re obsessed, grotesque
And repressed; I request

I express my protest:
Unless Yes is the Guest
I attest the oppressed cannot win

No broom or bubbling cauldron
There’s no evil in my eye
But if whatever I do is called sin
Then I confess that I

I am nasty
I am timeless
I will not be silenced
I am alive with fire and fury
And I will fight til the tide has turned

We are nasty
We’re the forsaken
We will not be shaken
We are the daughters of the witches
That your fathers failed to burn

Do As Peggy Says

Lyrics by Erin and Rand Bellavia, music by Rand Bellavia and Adam English

If you’re listless and you feel like you were meant for more
If you’re enlisted but you always end up missing the war
Support your friends, always offer to help
Know your value, stand up for yourself

And do as Peggy says
Do do as Peggy says

If you’re at work and having trouble getting recognized
Taking shorthand when you know that you’re a super spy
Sometimes you gotta fight to make things improve
Just plant both feet and say, “No, you move!”

You gotta do as Peggy says
Do do as Peggy says

All the daring women have got to believe
Just like Sharon and Simmons and Steve
You gotta do as Peggy says
Do do as Peggy says

If you’re restless and you feel like we’ve been here before
Nothing’s too big to fail but some are too big to ignore
You know how to make a better world
Just know your value and fight like a girl
Better do as Peggy says
Do do as Peggy says

Fighting the Black Thing

lyrics by Erin and Rand Bellavia, music by Rand Bellavia

(inspired by A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle)

There’s a battle being fought across the universe
Who and why and where and what and when
Weak and strong or right or wrong
It’s been going on so long
Feels like we’ll never find our way back to the light again

There’s a lesson being taught across the universe
And all we have to do is imitate
It’s not who we are or what we say
It’s what we do: the Imago Dei
We were created to create

Not everything is black and white
But I know the wrong when I’m in the right
Sometimes even angels fight
Gotta dig through the dark until you find the light

So stand with me and fight with me
Dance and sew and write with me
We can’t win unless we all take part
Paint with me and cook with me
Make a comic book with me
We fight the Black Thing best by making art

There’s a refuge being sought across the universe
From desperation and despair
Grab a pen and find your voice
Find a tool and make your choice
It’s the only immortality we share

There’s a battle being fought across the universe
But there’s more of us who love than those who hate
Fear and anger feed the dark
But empathy can be the spark
That lights the light that shines so bright when we create

So build with me, invent with me
Conduct experiments with me
Engage the world with head and hand and heart
Sing with me, compose with me
Write poetry and prose with me
We fight the Black Thing best by making art

Day 14-Friendship

Make new friends

But keep the old

One is silver

And the other’s gold

Day 7: Creativity

Been away from the posts for a few days, but I knew this was one I wanted to tackle.

Creativity has always been important to me. When I was younger, I thought I was going to be a fiction writer. I’ve had a bit of success, here and there, at short fiction. Thing is, there’s not much of a market for short fiction, and I’m not sure I’m a novelist at heart. I don’t have BIG IDEAS. I’m kind of lousy at plotting.

My creativity manifests in other ways, though. I’ve been doing calligraphy since I was in high school, and I maintain an Etsy shop where I sell my calligraphy and paper crafts.

Lately, though, it’s been coming out in the form of songwriting. Well, lyric writing. I’m not a musician, but I am married to one. 🙂 And being married to one has brought me into a whole community that has nurtured and supported this creativity.

The past two years, I’ve participated in something called February Album Writing Month. (That link goes to my profile.) The idea is to write 14 songs-an album’s worth-in 28 days. Now, I haven’t made it to 14, or anywhere near, but it’s been a useful exercise anyway. This year, I posted three things…one of them, a lyric that’s been around for a while that has finally been set to music. I ended up adding two lyrics that aren’t quite finished. In my drafts I also have a Peggy Carter song (tentatively “Do as Peggy Says”) that I’ve been trying to write this for a year now. I’ve made a little bit of movement, but It’s giving me a rough time. There’s also a chorus inspired by a FB post conversation that still doesn’t have a song, and two brainstorming lists that I’m hopeful will turn into something at some point. I call that a win.

All of this is moving toward an album that Rand and I are going to record this year. (eep!)

All of this is to say that, while I’m not doing what I once thought I would be doing, I’m really happy with my creative life right now. I love being able to create and collaborate and feel supported and enriched by it.

(The poster imaged above–designed by Karen Paddison–features lyrics from the song “Take it Back” by Kathleen Sloan. It’s based on a speech made by Barry and Sally Childs-Helton when they were inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame. I am proud and humbled to count these people among my friends.)