I never sang in public until I was 28, and had almost no training. So the professional singing I did was quite an adventure! Blues was what I loved the most and sang the best. When the bar scene got old, I wrote myself a little play so I could sing my own songs and the jazz standards I loved, without the smoky air and beery floors. (See Looking-Glass Love Songs) When invited to sing black gospel songs in the Rance Majestic Choir, I gave it a try, and stayed for eight years. We sang in prisons, in the Bahamas, in the Guthrie’s Gospel at Colonus, and once backed Michael Bolton. In other words, I had a ball and learned a ton, not to mention the friendships I found and still treasure. I don’t practice like I used to, so now I call myself a wabi sabi singer. That’s a wonderful ancient Japanese concept – appreciating the art of imperfection! Though I still feel like a rookie, I have been blessed to work with some wonderful musicians who have mentored me in writing and performing. So I’ll offer bits here, and hope a line or a melody might make you smile, or weep, or ponder…and enjoy.
For starters, here’s “The Quilter,” a song I wrote for my mother’s 85th birthday. It honors not only her amazing creative skill in making over 700 unique quilts, but also the love so many people have felt when wrapped in them. Unlike many modern quilters, she made nearly all of hers from discarded, donated, or left-over fabric, yet they were all beautiful. (Yes – I had excellent salvaging lessons from my parents!) Michael Monroe graciously performed and recorded this song and others for me, in exchange for doggy-sitting his sweet dog, Java. What a deal! For more of his wonderful music, check out www.michaelmonroemusic.com
The Quilter (Ode to Audrey)
bit by bit, the quilter makes a comforter
piece by piece, the peacefulness is grown
stitch by stitch, a lonely thread will soon be wed
so no-one has to sleep alone
day by day, the quilter is a comforter
word by word, she listens to your heart
year by year, her handiwork may fray and wear
but good friends never tear apart
never wasting, always tasting new creations from the old
cutting, sewing, laughing, knowing quilting stories often told
each one differs, soft as slippers, little nippers shy or bold
love her blankies, used as hankies, and as diapers, truth be told
face by face, she smiles at every shape and hue
row by row, connecting as she goes
quilt by quilt, for baby, newlywed or old,
she warms our hearts and hands and toes
bits and pieces, sewn together, grown together, in her hands
fingers bending but still lending love to every block and band
friends and needles needing guidance, knowing that she understands
nothing’s perfect, no-one’s finished, ’til returned to dust and sand
night by night, we lie beneath her works of art
dawn by dawn, awakening our souls
one by one, her beauty touches eye and heart
how many, heaven only knows
© 2011 Holly Jorgensen, for Mom on her 85th birthday
Memory Fails, Love Prevails
I wrote this for Mom and Dad’s 60th anniversary, then added the video for Dad’s funeral. But Michael Monroe’s beautiful recording is too poignant not to share with the masses going through what we went through. It’s hard, but truly, love does prevail. Click the link to see it on YouTube.
9 thoughts on “Holly’s music”
I love “The Quilter” both as a song and as Michael sings it (with lovely instrumentation). Reminds me of something Michael Johnson, Greg Brown, and Bill Staines might do. Terrific! I also take great delight in the photo of you and “the quilter” sitting in your basement by the fire, both wrapped up in her magnificent creations.
I know this is just one of many songs that you’ve written (like your mother’s quilts), but it’s a great one for this site.
Thanks, Bill. Glad you like it. You’ve known me and Mom such a long time! I’ll post the slide show with lots of her quilts soon- when I figure out how to make the file smaller.
Love the quilting story Hollie. I remember you at the lake singing as you swam.
Thanks, Deb! That makes me smile! I’m on a different lake now, but I still love to sing and swim.
I made a video to go with that song, full of Mom’s quilts – I’ll have to post it.
We have known eachother all our life yet I realize I didn’t know you at all! Sad, but then I did live in Idaho 40 years.
I would love to hear you sing!!! I have been trying to learn to sing for a couple years and have found that I have really fun and rewarding times finally sounding good after recording tapes, over and over . My tape recorder is not good but sometimes I can sound really good. I like Neil Young, Joan Baez, Sarah McGlacklan Crosby, Stills Nash and Young, and to my suprise, I sing well with Adam Lambert.
Your life has been amazing!
So true, Marilyn. We grew up cousins, but each went off on our own adventures.
I’m glad to hear you are enjoying singing. Tape recorders help, but my favorite place to learn was in an old abandoned silo! Do you have any of those around? The acoustics are great for hearing yourself!
No silos that I know of 🙂 I don’t even know what equiptment to use and if I did I wouldn’t know how to use it! I hope your Mom is well.
Wonderful, Holly. You are always (and all ways) an inspiration to me! Love your songs! Tricia 🙂
Thank you, Tricia! That means a lot coming from a pro like you. And thanks for the nudge to put a little more up here. I’ve been meaning to digitize some of my more meaningful songs so I can share them. I hope you are staying safe and finding joy, as you give so much to others.