We are finally beginning the third and final installment of the Late Nights and Weekends Storytime series. There will be plenty more “Storytimes” to come, but this week, we are looking at the final two tracks of Late Nights and Weekends: “Piece of the Puzzle” and “Ocean Dove.” These two tracks both delve into more introspective content that I’m sharing publicly for the first time. Please keep an open mind and… buckle up!
When I wrote “Piece of the Puzzle,” I was actually still living in California but in the process of planning a move to the East Coast to attend a music school in Massachusetts. A few weeks earlier, I met someone with whom I began a romantic relationship. However, after learning of my planned move east, this person decided to break things off out of a desire to avoid a long-distance relationship. In hindsight, I can certainly respect that sentiment, but as a heartbroken twenty-year-old, I was devastated by a potential love abandoned so suddenly. I embarked on my East Coast adventure a couple of weeks later, still rattled by the experience, but before I left, I managed to capture my grieving process in a song that became “Piece of the Puzzle.” There are many lines within the song that are very literal and not dressed up with the metaphors of a sophisticated writer; I was raw and so are the lyrics: “When I, with my heart, step on that plane, my eyes I cannot let see you again. I dread that if they can, once more they’ll want a new start to all this torture which is bound to repeat soon” and “We can chance a happy ending, but won’t allow that in. Sometimes, the wisest voice makes the least amount of sense.” I also expose my need to hide what I’m really feeling (referenced in other songs as well) so as not to appear weak: “It’s time to break my silence on this: my heart agrees not with what leaves my lips. Not one to show a weakness or where it is I’m frail, I act the part of strongest. Beneath, I feel I’ve failed.” The chorus introduces more of the universal feeling of a break up: “We tore us, we tore us, we tore us apart. ‘Cause we’ve kept ourselves from what we both wanted most. Just like a great story never to be told, so we break another piece of the puzzle.” It took me some time to fully recover (and several more songs about feeling heartbroken!), but I obviously picked up the pieces and became a stronger person for having gone through the experience. And, to this day, this is my favorite ballade to play at shows.
The last song on Late Nights and Weekends is “Ocean Dove.” This track is more of a confession song about a flaw within myself. I have always been a very independent person and often to the point of being stubborn and unwavering in my need for that autonomy. While musing about this distinctive feature of my personality, I began to see that while personal independence (especially as a female) can be a wonderfully positive asset and an understandable need, my occasional indignation for this was sometimes more limiting than helpful. I will never say that an independent person (and again, especially if female) is a negative thing, as I genuinely view that quality as an incredibly powerful attribute; I simply want to be honest about the times in which my inability to leave room for others has led to me missing out on some truly great interpersonal connections. I think the line at the end of the chorus best sums up the overall commentary I was aiming for: “Sometimes freedom can trap you more than boundaries built by man.” As a side note to that line, I generally promote the use of “humans” or “humankind” when referring to the universal use of “man” or “mankind,” since I vehemently support the use of Fair Language. However, as a young woman wrestling with the balance of being an independent female while also leaving room for those that seek to enrich my life, I wanted to be intentional with using the word “man.” I wanted to do this because it is often dynamics with men that lead to feeling that tug-of-war within myself (it’s a constant battle to determine what is “assertive” and what is “closed off”), AND because we live in a patriarchal structure that is typically defined by the rules of gender norms and the men who occupy “the top.”
There is one last story I’d like to share with this song that musicians will probably appreciate. When I wrote this song, I was finishing one of my final semesters of college. I had just moved to Philadelphia, so I didn’t have a car and didn’t know many people. My immensely sweet friend and roommate, Talain Rayne, would drop me off every morning before class, around 8am, and he would pick me up every night when he was done with work around 9pm, until I secured a vehicle a couple of months later. I can’t say how grateful I was for him being so accommodating and helpful, but the circumstances meant I was stuck on my school’s campus for over 12 hours every day. Whenever I would get burnt out on my ever-increasing stack of homework assignments, I would wander around campus looking for ways to take a break from academics. One day, I happened across a prayer chapel that seemed rarely used by staff or students, but was equipped with an old piano. I started sneaking into the chapel at night, when everyone else had left, in order to play that aged, but beautiful-sounding, piano. Soon after that, I began composing “Ocean Dove.” Because the piano was quite old, it had some slightly out of tune keys and possessed a very specific timbre. I made multiple recordings while experimenting with different versions of “Ocean Dove,” and I loved the way the character of that aged piano sounded with the song. To this day, I still wish I could somehow bottle up or otherwise recapture that very specific vibe of the old piano. It’s funny how these types of imperfect objects, people, or experiences (but so beautiful in their own unique way), can stick with us far after they leave our lives. I will always have fond memories of my late nights spent at that piano.
With that, I say “it’s a wrap!” to my Late Nights and Weekends Storytime series. Stay tuned for more of both a fresh Storytime series and more blogs about the ups and down of the musician life. Talk to you soon!