Friday, June 29, 2012

An Eventful Week Culminates With The Global Release of My New Album

Nobody could deny this has been an extremely eventful week. The two SCOTUS rulings, concerning the Arizona Immigration law and the Affordable Care Act, respectively, have set off a sonic boom throughout our political and social culture here in the US. The leaders of the countries of the EU are meeting to quite literally determine the fate of the Euro zone.  In Syria the rebels are in the midst of a major offensive, bringing further to the fore the tensions between all the major players involved - - the Assad regime, the US, Iran, Russia, etc.. To all this, I most humbly add my own major development: my new record, Mommy What's a Depression? is now available globally. As you know, the album first came out in Japan two weeks ago. Two great places to purchase the record here in the US, Europe and elsewhere are at CD, if you still like buying physical CDs, and Apple iTunes if you prefer digital downloads:

Alison Crockett: Mommy, What

Alison Crockett - Mommy, What's a Depression?

I started writing this blog as my brother and I were composing and recording this record.  The topics and subject matter for the blog came out of our frequent, often lengthy and wide ranging discussions about politics, music and the general state of planet Earth. When Teddy and I began working on this project in earnest, somewhere around 2008, it seemed as if the world were going to hell in a hand basket and we were watching and discussing it all like you might watch a really suspenseful melodrama in a movie theater.  Each of the songs on the record draws it's context and meaning from a world event, political or social point-of-view.  A mixture of jazz, soul and electronic music seemed to me the best way to give these messages the weight of the moment. Each of these music forms is all about creative destruction and re-invention, a process it seems we are going through right now. So I call the sonic style we've come up with, "Mixtape Jazz"; it's the sound of taking the familiar and shaping layers and layers of seemingly disparate and sometimes even dissonant components onto it in order to fashion new creative textures.  I arranged standard songs from the jazz and soul cannons that seemed to speak to our national and societal condition and, to compliment these, wrote music and lyrics that reflected my own feelings of anger, frustration, bitterness and hope about what's been going on around me. 

Here's a sampling of the stories behind a few of the tracks on the record in which the subject matter seems like it's been ripped straight from today's newspaper (or blog, cable news channel or internet news site, or wherever else you consume your propaganda - - sorry, I mean news.)

"The Old Country" was first introduced to me through my listening to my FAVORITE saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderly (my favorite saxophonist other than my husband, of course!) with the fabulous Nancy Wilson. So many here in America immigrated from somewhere else and struggled to carve out a place in our society. The SCOTUS ruling last week on the Arizona law is but the most recent reminder of how visceral and raw the issue of immigration - - both of the legal and illegal varieties - - continues to be in the US. But throughout Europe as well, a simmering subtext to the ongoing financial crisis has been the challenge the northern Euro zone countries face in assimilating recent immigrants, particularly those from eastern europe and the middle east.  My brother's production on my version of "The Old Country" morphs the traditional jazz standard into modern electronica, mimicking the process that the children of immigrants have to go through in order to survive here: to be a part without being a part. On this track, for me the music tells the story -- and the story tells the music.

One of my favorite songs on the record, "H-U-M-A-N", deals with what it means to be a human being. Originally, I wrote this song in response to the casual disregard I perceive many Americans have for the lives of the inhabitants of the middle east during our wars there.  But the song really touches on the frustration that I feel about why we treat each other the way we do. Why is it OK for some to have health care and not others? Whom should be the final arbiter of who gets life saving treatment and who doesn't? Aren't we our brother's keeper?! Or are some of us valued above others, even today in 2012?! Über drummer Terreon Gully channelled the spirit of Elvin Jones and simply DESTROYS this song (not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good! - RUN DMC, circa 1985)

I wrote "Depression" because I know what it feels like to not be able to physically move when you're mentally drained. People tell you you should be grateful for what you have but when you feel really down that can be hard to do; how do you pick yourself up? How do you keep moving? It's rough out there these days. There are people who've been searching for work for more than two, three years! It's hard to stay positive when you can't pay the bills. It's hard to be thankful when you're literally not sure if you'll ever work again, or if your life can ever be 'normal' again. Depression is real and it's invasive. My homegirl, the mega-talented Ursula Rucker, graces the track with a poignant bit of her trademark word craft.

There are many, many other stories on the record, and I will share more of them here on the blog in the days and weeks to come. That's one big reason why I started the blog in the first place - - because there was too much to say to put on just one record. Too much to say to stay in one genre. Too much going on.  It feels like the world is burning, like we're surrounded by insanity, hence, the name of the blog.  And what am I going to tell my kids about what's going on around them because they actually did ask, "Mommy….What's a Depression?"

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