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Published October 12th, 2014 at 11:04 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

Well, you can probably guess from the title of this entry that I sadly haven’t much news for you regarding “[untitled]“. But I thought I would pass along what news I do have so that you at least know what’s been going on.

Wax Chaotic has been touring really heavily this year, which was our intention from the get-go. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to have “[untitled]” out at the same time as “Faces in the Fog”—I knew we wouldn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to it once we hit the road for the year. What I hadn’t really predicted was that not only would we be time-poor, but we would be exhausted both physically and mentally, as well. I think I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that such a thing would likely happen, but actually experiencing it is another matter.

So what time we have had to get into the studio has partially been spent decompressing from a very active touring season. To date, we’ve done nineteen shows in ten states and two countries. We still have two more shows scheduled for the year (which are thankfully local). It has been a whirlwind of fun, but it’s left us sadly little time to dedicate to recording for “[untitled]“.

After our most recent show in New Orleans, we were hoping to dedicate some more time to studio work. Our next show isn’t until November. We’ve been home for about a week, though, and we still haven’t been able to get anything done. Sean brought home con crud, which has left him too lethargic to work through the necessary practice sessions. I have been so exhausted from our travels that I barely have the energy for housework, and so stressed that even the thought of the same makes me want to run and hide. (I’m beginning to think I have some sort of undiagnosed anxiety disorder. And yes, I have already made an appointment to speak to someone regarding it.)

And just yesterday, we had to send our nineteen year-old cat off to the great beyond. So it’s been kind of a rough week.

But on the positive side, Sean’s cold appears to be waning. I’m not exactly feeling any more relaxed, but I’m trying to work on that. So maybe after this coming weekend, I might have some good news for everyone.

Again, I’m sorry that this project is taking so long. If anyone has any questions regarding other setbacks (eg., “Why is this CD still not finished?”) or our current timetable, you’re welcome to send them my way. I will do my best to keep you posted (though unless I have any BIG news to spread around, most of the progress-related updates will likely be posted to my Facebook page).

And if you’re reading this and have been eagerly awaiting the CD release party, don’t worry, it hasn’t happened yet, and you haven’t missed it. I will be making damn sure that all of the necessary parties are aware of its scheduled time and date when such have been arranged.

So your weary bards continue onward and hopefully studio-ward. We will complete this project, and it will be the best work we can manage. It’s just going to take longer than I really wanted it to, and for that I am incredibly sorry.



Published March 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

This song is a step back into the world of the fantastic. I do love writing my fictional tales in song form. Also, I have long been a writer of fictional prose, as well. In point of fact, there’s a series of novels I’ve been working on since the late 90s. Around the end of 2012, I once again got to work on one of the novels in that series, and I was absolutely consumed by the work. I think I spat out close to forty thousand words in about five or six days. It got to the point where, even when I was away from my computer and focusing on other tasks, part of my mind was always still in the storybook world. Of course I didn’t find myself transported into the world I had made, but still, the mental fixation was enough to inspire this song.

Thus far this album has songs on it to honor the darker shades of my past, the bright gleams of both past and present, and various passions and scars. It needed a song to honor The Writer. This is that song.

Getting Lost
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

I started writing the other day,
A book that’s been long in the making.
Out through my fingers, the words found their way,
They consumed me in dreaming and waking.
I visited realms I wrought with my pen,
Their denizens, of my mind’s descent.
And though I’d step away now and again,
They would follow wherever I went.

       Just close your eyes,
       As you once more reprise:
       There is no reason to worry.

       It’s clear to me now—
       I see that somehow
       I’m getting lost in the story.

It began with events half-remembered,
Envisioned as though I’d been there.
I lived a life half-dismembered,
In the world of the real and that of my chair.
As any writer will tell you they do,
My characters had wills of their own.
But this was a bit different, and as the word count grew,
It got much harder to find my way home.

       Just close your eyes,
       As you once more reprise:
       There is no reason to worry.

       It’s clear to me now—
       I see that somehow
       I’m getting lost in the story.

Next came the waking visions,
The sightings of fantastical creatures.
Rendered with nature’s precision,
I knew their outlandish features.
The night I awoke and parts of my bed
Were swapped with wood wild and black,
I whimpered as I pulled the blankets over my head,
For I knew there was no turning back.

       Just close your eyes,
       As you once more reprise:
       There is no reason to worry.

       It’s clear to me now—
       I see that somehow
       I’m getting lost in the story.

Now in the mornings I waken
Confused, bewildered, afraid.
My grip on my sanity’s shaken,
For I’m now in the world that I made.
I’m not sure how I got here, or how to get home,
But this nightmare’s the worst that I’ve had.
If the gods hear my pleas in their heavenly dome,
Let it be that I’ve simply gone mad.

       Open your eyes
       To the alien skies—
       Now is the time to worry.

       I’m not in right now,
       Because some way, somehow,
       I’ve gotten lost in the story.

To read about Track 13, please visit the entry about “[untitled]“.

And please keep an eye out for further release information. We’re getting really close, now!



Published March 17th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

To read about Track 10, please visit the entry about “Break Out“.

Given the theme of this album, its track list would not be complete without a song about the gloriously terrifying wonder that is being a musician. This vocation fills me with wonder and elation and fear and worry and every emotion within the range of human passion. I would not trade any of this for the world. And I am so lucky to have so many of you who care enough about this music I’m making that I get to keep making it.

So here’s to passions that consume us in the best way, that inspire us to reach for new heights, that keep our spirits burning with devotion and wonder even in the darkest of times.

Dancing in Flame (Tapestry of Me)
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

I have laid myself open,
       in part and in whole,
Forgoing the safety of skin;

I have made self-exposure
       my primary goal,
Turning outward when I would turn in.

I have spread my arms wide
       as if thinking them wings,
And jumped only hoping to fly—

There’s a maddening fire
       making me do all these things,
And I’m happy to stoke it high.

       I bare my soul in note and verse
       Lest my heart split at the seams,
       And still I am always left to wonder
       What this aching means.

       Caught in a firestorm trepidation cannot tame,
       I am joyously dancing in flame.

The day is a race to see
       how much I get done,
How far I can make my flames spread.

There’s aren’t enough hours
       before the retreat of the sun
Signals that I must lay down my head.

Night heralds the crescendo
       of the deafening roar
That ignites the spark of my soul.

It builds the inferno ‘til
       when I sleep, anymore,
I am only just banking the coals.

       And every dream I bring to light,
       Every song that I create,
       Is a balm, a cage, a penance,
       Another scar crossed off the slate.

       Caught in a firestorm the rat race cannot tame,
       I am joyously dancing in flame.

               I…
               Am ever burning…
               Both fire, and smith.
               I…
               Am ever burning…
               A furnace fed by myth.

Not every fire
       burns to destroy—
Some fires burn to create.

So I pick up my pen
       and lift up my voice,
And singing, I conflagrate.

       They leave me gloriously broken,
       Makes me ache deliciously,
       These melodies that form the warp and weft
       Of the tapestry of me.

       Caught in a firestorm uncertainty cannot tame,
       I am joyously dancing in flame.



Published March 10th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

In late December, 1999, I was twelve. I left Cleveland, Ohio, where I was living at the time, to visit my dad in Indianapolis for the second week of my Christmas break. I know that at least one night during that week, we stayed at the house of two of his friends. I’ve long forgotten the reason why, but that’s not important. What is important is that that was the day I met the man who is now my husband.

I was instantly attracted to him, but shy. It didn’t help matters that I knew he was significantly older than me. So we got to know each other a little bit at my dad’s friends’ house—he was there because he was also friends with our hosts—and then I returned to Cleveland after New Year’s and didn’t think anything more about him.

See, at the time, I was in love—or thought I was in love—with a boy I knew through my mom’s primary social group. And I was a bit heartsick, because he was utterly uninterested. I did get over him. It helped that that following summer, after I turned thirteen, I once more went to Indianapolis to visit my dad, and this time, we were again staying at the same friends’ house.

Side track explanation time: My dad lived in Vermont at the time, but returned to Indy for his summer visitation, because this is where my sister and I are from, and thus, have a lot of friends and family here. Our dad also had a lot of friends there, so it was really best for everyone to just return to the familiar stomping grounds.

So my dad and I are staying with his friends, and their friend Sean is also often at the house because, well, he’s their friend. This time when we met, there were sparks. We knew that there really shouldn’t have been sparks—we discovered the age difference was actually ten years, not less than that, as Sean had thought (he mistook me for older). But we fell in love that summer, despite knowing we were in for a whole lotta heartache.

But five years later, I turned eighteen and returned to Indianapolis to live with him.

Five years after that, we were married.

And three years after that, I wrote this song for him as an anniversary present. I kept it secret for about six months, even going so far as to have a secret meeting with my good friend Cernowain Greenman of Greenman and the Muse to get the song chorded. Then at a house concert in August, a couple of weeks after our actual anniversary, Cern was nice enough to accompany me while I performed the song for Sean as a surprise. You can watch me sing it really terribly on YouTube. I hadn’t much time to practice the song with the guitar, so my performance was pretty shaky.

But that didn’t matter. It just mattered that Sean loved (and still loves) the song, and that I am so incredibly lucky to have a partner with whom I fall in love all over again every day.

In a Hundred Different Ways
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

I packed up my dreams
       and took them with me that summer—
It’s been so long now,
I can’t recall
What all
Was on my mind.
But I never conceived
       what we would be to each other,
Or just what I’d be lucky enough to find.

       I couldn’t believe what was happening—
       That it was then, and it was you.
       I counted all the ways it was wrong
       And it was right,
       Then took a leap—and said, “I love you, too”.

               I cannot sound the depths
               Of the heart you stole away,
               And how I feel, mere language
               Cannot possibly convey.
               So you may never see it, love,
               But each and every day
               I fall for you all over again
               In a hundred different ways.

I hoped that love would be
       somewhere in my future.
I was content to wait
For the day
When it found its way
To me.
Loneliness is a difficult
       storm to weather,
But we each found a port in the endless sea.

       We knew what we were in for at first,
       That the difference and distance were great.
       But in the end, the time and heartache
       Were worth it,
       For good things always come to those who wait.

               I cannot sound the depths
               Of the heart you stole away,
               And how I feel, mere language
               Cannot possibly convey.
               So you may never see it, love,
               But each and every day
               I fall for you all over again
               In a hundred different ways.

So now here we are, together,
       some thirteen years later.
We’ve shown the ones
Who claimed
That time
Wasn’t on our side.
Nothing I am in my life
       will ever be greater
Than being the one you chose to be your bride.

       I don’t know what the future will bring,
       But it’s enough that I get to hold you today.
       We have a love that’s only common
       In fairytales,
       And that’s not something even time can take away.

               I cannot sound the depths
               Of the heart you stole away,
               And how I feel, mere language
               Cannot possibly convey.
               So you may never see it, love,
               But each and every day
               I fall for you all over again
               In a hundred different ways.



Published March 3rd, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

To read about Track 7, please visit the entry about “Coat of Scars“.

This song is dedicated to the many cohorts I have had over the years, and all the craziness we’ve created together. I wanted to write a song for them, and also let them know just what they’ve meant to me. I am one for whom experiences are made more enjoyable, more meaningful, by having someone to share them with. So here is a song for all of my partners in crime.

Fun Fact: When I was younger, my primary group of friends lived in my dad’s neighborhood. They were right across the street, in fact. The activities described in this song are mostly things I did with them, and they included things like flinging naked Barbie dolls into a tree (whilst laughing maniacally the whole time), racing marshmallow Peeps in the Creek (winning was indeed determined by whichever melted the quickest), going for walks on the same creek when it was frozen solid, swimming in the same creek, playing in the rain and mud (what is it with kids and digging large holes in the yard, anyway?), and building couch forts.

Not mentioned is the game we used to play whenever the mosquito spraying truck would come through the neighborhood. It was this slow-moving thing with lots of lights and its own specific siren, so we always knew when it was coming. We would all run out and run after it, shouting, and keep running as fast as we could until we got to it…at which point, we would run from it shrieking in terror, sometimes rolling on the street in front of it (I did mention it was slow-moving), and just generally acting as though the world were ending.

…if I’m this strange as an adult, is it any wonder I was that strange as a child?

I can only wonder what that poor driver thought…

Partners in Crime
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

Our poor parents had no inkling
       Of just what it was they bore—
They somehow never imagined
       They could create such terror,
But we hit the wide world running
       With mischief in our eyes,
A talent for wreaking havoc,
       And a penchant for mud pies.

And when we met, we found a resonance
In the other, and we knew,
A kindred soul had come by chance,
And “just me” became “we two”,

       So let’s away, let’s away,
       There are legends for us to write!
       Let’s away, let’s away,
       For adventure is in our sights!
       We’ll spend the day in our own version
       Of once upon a time,
       Where the exploits often vary,
       But we’re always
       Partners in crime!

It may be ninety-seven,
       Or it may be ten below.
Whatever the weather,
       Back to The Creek we go.
When it’s froz’n, it’s time for walking,
       When it’s warm, let’s take a swim—
Hey, I’ve got some marshmallow birds:
       The first whose melts will win.

Later if I’m of the opinion,
And if everyone agrees,
That dress-up’s getting boring,
Then Barbie dolls belong in trees.

       So let’s away, let’s away,
       There are legends for us to write!
       Let’s away, let’s away,
       For adventure is in our sights!
       We’ll spend the day in our own version
       Of once upon a time,
       Where the exploits often vary,
       But we’re always
       Partners in crime!

               It’s the stories that we write together
               That make the world come alive,
               For nothing feeds my spirit
               Like the wonders we contrive.
               Adventuring is richer
               With a cohort by my side,
               To share in the experience,
               And match me stride for stride.

We have raided all the closets
       For every blanket long or short.
In conjunction with the sofa,
       They make a lovely fort.
In the hazy gloom we rest,
       And maybe have a snack.
Then later in the afternoon,
       Perhaps a tiger will attack.

Come go out and brave the downpour
So heavy I can’t see my nose,
We’ll carol at the thunder’s roar
And dance all day on dirty toes!

       So let’s away, let’s away,
       There are legends for us to write!
       Let’s away, let’s away,
       For adventure is in our sights!
       We’ll spend the day in our own version
       Of once upon a time,
       Where the exploits often vary,
       But we’re always
       Partners in crime!



Published February 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

I am insanely lucky. There are, in my life, countless wonderful, loving people, whose affection for me and general awesomeness is as depthless as the elation it creates in me. They banish the shades and shadows of my past and grant me light to find my way forward. I would not be who I am without them. I owe all of them a great deal, and I can only hope that debt can be repaid by doing what I can to continue to be worthy of their esteem, and by paying it forward to other lostlings whose hearts have long been achingly empty.

This album had to contain a song for them. Yes, this song is directed at the women in my life; there are, to be sure, many men whom I hold in such high regard. But most of the strongest influences in my life have been women—sisters, mother figures, strong, (com)passionate women, chosen family and blood relatives alike—and so it was my natural instinct to write this song for them.

I love you all.

Lost Girls
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

I sing of you, sister,
Of the light that you spread to my heart,
Of the wondrous warmth of your healing hands,
And the way they knead heartache apart.

I may have had some trouble finding my way to the light,
But bit by bit, you’ve shown me how,
Through needles and pins and thread late at night,
And every song to ease the pain,
Your crazy sense of humor and animated laughter,
And every dance in the rain.

I’m fortunate to have known you
And been part of the story of you.
So I sing of you now, my sister,
And the special mischief you brew.

       Somewhere, somehow, we were lost—
       Whether we strayed or were cast away.
       But somewhere, somehow, we found each other,
       And together, we’ve forged a new way,

       We’ve pointed our ship toward the fairest of weather,
       This motley crew of girls being
       Lost Girls
       Together.

I sing of you, my sister,
Of the light that you find in the dark,
Of the music in your everyday,
Of your brilliant, starlight spark.

You dare to love the joys savored by only a few,
And I exalt in the way that you love them.
With passion forever springing forth anew,
You teach me to love what I love without fear,
To delight in the learning as much as the knowing,
And to walk, though the way is unclear.

You constantly amaze me
With your loving, creative mind,
So I sing of you now, my sister,
As you knit with the ties that bind.

       Somewhere, somehow, we were lost—
       Whether we strayed or were cast away.
       But somewhere, somehow, we found each other,
       And together, we’ve forged a new way,

       We’ve pointed our ship toward the fairest of weather,
       This motley crew of girls being
       Lost Girls
       Together.

I sing of you, lady mothers,
Of the love that you give to us all,
Or the arms that offer us endless warmth
And catch us whenever we fall.

We are always inspired by your boundless strength and patience,
And you’re quick with a laugh or a smile;
Our love for you is as deep as the ages,
And we will all of us be very accomplished daughters
If we spread half as much good throughout the world
As we navigate its waters.

You teach me how to love,
And how to be loved in return.
So I sing of you now, lady mothers,
And all the lessons from you I have learned.

       Somewhere, somehow, we were lost—
       Whether we strayed or were cast away.
       But somewhere, somehow, we found each other,
       And together, we’ve forged a new way,

       We’ve pointed our ship toward the fairest of weather,
       This motley crew of girls being
       Lost Girls
       Together.

I sing of us all,
Sisters,
Mothers,
And daughters,
And however our paths may cross,
Of the stories written in scars,
Of the lessons learned from loss.

This family we comprise may not be without its flaws,
But I wouldn’t trade you for anything.
My life is woven with splendor because
I have the honor of you joining my story
And being part of the ones that you’re writing yourselves,
And of sharing the treasure and glory.

It’s a mutual miracle,
And it is no small thing that we do.
So I sing of you now, my ladies one and all,
And the adventures that we’ve been through.

       Somewhere, somehow, we were lost—
       Whether we strayed or were cast away.
       But somewhere, somehow, we found each other,
       And together, we’ve forged a new way,

       We’ve pointed our ship toward the fairest of weather,
       This motley crew of girls being
       Lost Girls
       Together.



Published February 17th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

To read about Track 4, please visit the entry about “Buttons“.

This song pertains to a difficult subject, but it’s one that I really felt needed to be addressed.

Psychological abuse is a very real thing, though as with most invisible ailments, there are many who disregard it as being “all in your head”. …of course it is all in your head, and that’s the problem. Psychological abuse is someone deliberately pushing your buttons to manipulate you. It’s particularly insidious because on the outside, it looks as though the victim is overreacting when they go into meltdown mode. It transforms the victim into an overly-emotional, melodramatic drama queen, and the abuser into a victim. It can be difficult to explain to someone who’s never experienced it, and it’s almost impossible for someone to spot when they don’t know what it looks like.

It comes from a wide variety of sources. It comes from lovers, parents, friends, coworkers, employers, siblings. It has many faces. It has many means.

So I wanted to let the world know that yes, we are here. Yes, there are more of us than you realize. Yes, we need your love and support just as much as someone who was battered or sexually abused.

And I wanted to let the victims know that the abuse doesn’t have to define them. There is a way out of the sickness into a world not crippled by rot and infected by that evil. There does exist solid ground, and you can find your way to it. There is hope.

We are hard to see, but we are here. And more than that, we are here for you.

Hand-Me-Downs
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

               We’re hard to see,
                       but we’re here.
               We’re products of
                       mind games and fear.
               We are the hand-me-downs,
               Picked apart and broken down,
               And left to mend the pieces…
                       …of ourselves.

Oh, the marks, they don’t show,
But every one of us knows
They can be scratched open
       like a scab.

Injuries are hard to heal
When we question if they were ever real—
And it’s so hard to cope when
       so many don’t understand

That not all abuse leaves visible signs,
Not all injuries are of the physical kind.
It’s high time, even if the scars are old,
That the truth be told,
       So the world will know
               That

               We’re hard to see,
                       but we’re here.
               We’re products of
                       mind games and fear.
               We are the hand-me-downs,
               Picked apart and broken down,
               And left to mend the pieces…
                       …of ourselves.

Those of us who before have tried
To trust another in our lives
Now know trust never comes freely…
       it’s not a right.

For when our trust has been repaid
With lies, we can become their slaves—
The truth is always hardest to see
       by gaslight…

What from the outside seems like a normal conversation
Is really about control and manipulation.
They keep their victims under their thumb
So the realization can never come
       That we are not alone
               And that

               We’re hard to see,
                       but we’re here.
               We’re products of
                       mind games and fear.
               We are the hand-me-downs,
               Picked apart and broken down,
               And left to mend the pieces…
                       …of ourselves.

There are systems in place
Whose signs are hard to trace,
But their workings wind tight and bind
       just like chains.

They know our frailties
And make our true realities
And they reshape our minds,
       so that we will forever remain.

We don’t notice them when they have us ensnared,
We can’t get out to see how they’ve had us impaired,
They just consume us as a flame burns a wick,
And numb any thought that they might be sick,
       And they make it so
               That

               We’re hard to see,
                       but we’re here.
               We’re products of
                       mind games and fear.
               We are the hand-me-downs,
               Picked apart and broken down,
               And left to mend the pieces…
                       …of ourselves.

       This isn’t a subject many people will talk about.
       Some prefer to just pretend it’s not real.
       But I will sing, and if I have to, I will shout,
       If it means someone hurting can heal.

       Know loves, that you’re not alone…
       And know too that it can get better,

               For we may be hard to see,
                       but we’re here.
               We’ve ended the games
                       and stopped the fear.
               We may be hand-me-downs,
               But as we may, somehow we’ve found
               A way to pick up the pieces
                       of ourselves.



Published February 10th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

This song is pure, unadulterated silliness (because there had to be some lighter material on this album).

Cats have been a major part of my life ever since I was born. My parents had several cats, and so, starting from the day they brought me home from the hospital, I have been around cats my entire life. There is nothing like being in love with a cat. And I do fall in love with my cats, sort of in the same way a parent might fall in love with their child. They are, to me, very much tiny people with four legs and fur. And they very definitely each have their own personality.

This song is about two of our cats: Sawyn, who is our youngest, and Morgan, who is our second youngest. Morgan is a longhaired tuxedo cat; by her build and fur, we’re pretty sure she’s at least part Maine coon. We got her off the street when she was a few months old, and she was quite antagonistic for most of the first year we had her. She’s especially stubborn, even for a cat, and I swear she has a legitimate case of Oppositional Defiant Disorder; she will do something you told her not to do just because you told her not to do it. So having her in the house was very difficult for a while, but I’m glad we worked through it. She’s starting to turn into a real sweetheart.

Her full name is Morgan le Fey, because she earned it, and we’ve nicknamed her Magpie because she will steal literally anything, even if it’s something that clearly has no interest whatsoever to a cat (like lettuce leaves or sugar snap peas…which she then plays with, because apparently the green stuff makes excellent toys). The first thing she did when we released her to socialize with the other cats was catch a mouse that had gotten into the house the same day. That ended with a thirty-minute play session with the corpse in the bathtub until she got bored.

The second cat mentioned in this song, Sawyn, we acquired when she was only eight weeks old. She was a tiny ball of tortie adorableness whose face mask made her look constantly worried. She ended up being sequestered for more than two weeks because she came to us with kennel cough, and she was pretty sick for a while. She did eventually get better, and the first thing she did when we released her into the rest of the house was go after Morgan.

Keep this in mind: At this point, Morgan was huge. As I said, we think she’s part Maine coon. She is a big cat, and there’s not an ounce of fat on her. Sawyn, on the other hand, was only about two and a half months old, and was suitably tiny on her own, not even in comparison to Morgan. But she took one look at this cat who was six times her size and decided the proper course of action was to pounce at and chase after this cat and try to play with her.

I will not lie, it was pretty hilarious to watch this tiny kitten put Morgan in her place. Part of the reason why Morgan got her name is because she enjoys terrorizing one of our middle-aged cats, who just happens to be named Gwynever. So Sawyn gave Morgan a taste of her own medicine, and the two became good friends. I think that’s actually a big part of the reason why Morgan’s mellowing out as nicely as she is.

But this period made for some really hilarious cat antics, some of which I have included in this song. And as any cat owner who’s ever had kittens can tell you, hyperactive kittens are a special kind of crazy.

So this is my song for two of my beloved fuzzlets, the title of which comes from my mom’s name for when cats become hyper. She says their crazed running about is caused by a wild hair stuck, erm, someplace.

Wild Hair time
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

It’s a lazy afternoon on a Saturday.
The cats that are asleep have the right idea.
We humans of the household
Knit or game our time away.
…but life is not as tranquil as it might appear.
For suddenly there’s thunder rolling up the basement stairs,
The sound of sharpened claws sliding on linoleum.
Then the whirlwind hits the living room as a streak of fuzzy black—
There ain’t no doubt about it, that time again has come.

       It’s Wild Hair Time,
       As my mother would say,
       Wild Hair Time
       When the hyper kitties play.
       I can’t believe their antics—
       Who knew cats could do gymnastics?
       Better guard the draperies,
       It’s Wild Hair Time.

Our yearling’s never been timid—no, she’s the bravest of our cats.
She’d climb the couch—or your pant leg—when she was barely weaned.
Now she’s climbing, paw by paw,
Up my chair back’s narrow slats,
No doubt plotting mayhem and mischief like a furry, little fiend.
Sure enough, she climbs onto my shoulders as I sit,
Tensing for a leap from her newfound higher ground.
I look and see her target: The cat one year her senior,
Who she gleefully ambushes without a sound.

       It’s Wild Hair Time,
       As my mother would say,
       Wild Hair Time
       When the hyper kitties play.
       I can’t believe their antics—
       Who knew cats could do gymnastics?
       Better watch where next you step,
       It’s Wild Hair Time.

The pouncing sends the youngest two around the living room,
Swatting, biting, kicking, rolling on the floor.
They stop to smooth some fur,
Because there’s always time to groom,
Then shortly, sure enough, the war begins once more.
Their tussles take them somewhere outside the area of my ken—
Next thing I know, I’ve cause to wish I wasn’t wearing shorts,
For I am once again a springboard for the yearling, to my surprise—
I didn’t see her coming, and I swear she teleports.

       It’s Wild Hair Time,
       As my mother would say,
       Wild Hair Time
       When the hyper kitties play.
       I can’t believe their antics—
       Who knew cats could do gymnastics?
       Better switch to lead-lined trousers,
       It’s Wild Hair Time.

Afternoon or evening, Wild Hair Time claims no hour,
So often times we’re treated to opera at 4 am.
They’re like capacitors with fur,
Surging before I’ve even had my shower,
And “anytime” is the right time for ruckus and for mayhem.
I’m just happy when their tails puff up to the size of mutant pine cones,
And the speed at which they run around alludes to what’s in store,
That neither frenzied fuzzlet was graced with human thumbs,
For they’re smart enough to understand what the doorknobs are for.

       It’s Wild Hair Time,
       As my mother would say,
       Wild Hair Time
       When the hyper kitties play.
       I can’t believe their antics—
       Who knew cats could do gymnastics?
       Be glad the doors don’t have levers,
       It’s Wild Hair Time.



Published February 2nd, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

To read about Track 1, please visit the entry about “Cracked“.

This one is a little difficult to introduce. I’m not certain what to say about it. I could tell you that it’s yet another re-write of a poem I wrote in high school—I was quite a prolific writer in high school—but that fact is likely not especially interesting. I could go into detail about all of the ideas this song references…but some things are best left vague. Perhaps especially these things.

Just know that, in a way, it is better now.

Weekend Job
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

They never said it would be easy.
I guess you’ve had it harder than most.
I look at you today and see
Only potential’s ghost.
You used to be a superhero—
At least you were when I was nine—
I think that somehow despite all the bullshit,
At least one of us turned out fine.

       And though looking back is uncomfortable,
       I think finally, at least, I know why.
       Yeah, they never said it would be easy,
       But was it really that hard just to try?

               What can I be for you this week:
               A pet, a weapon, a pawn?
               Proof you’re not a total slob?
               I could appear for ego boosts,
               And otherwise stay gone—
               You tell me. I’m your weekend job.

Nothing’s opaque to a child.
I think you forgot what it was like
To feel that special kind of confusion,
That you somehow weren’t doing something right.
I know now it wasn’t my fault,
But children aren’t that unassuming.
And looking back now, it seems that, somehow,
There was always yet one more shoe looming.

       You never got it, I know—
       You still can’t quite grasp it today.
       For all your intelligence, you’re just too mulish,
       And will probably always be that way.

               What can I be for you this week:
               A pet, a weapon, a pawn?
               Proof you’re not a total slob?
               I could appear for ego boosts,
               And otherwise stay gone—
               You tell me. I’m your weekend job.

       All children will outgrow their parents,
       But this isn’t quite really the same.
       I forgive you for what you couldn’t help doing…
       But I just can’t keep playing your game.

               What can I be for you this week:
               A pet, a weapon, a pawn?
               Proof you’re not a total slob?
               I could appear for ego boosts,
               And otherwise stay gone—
               You tell me. I’m your weekend job.

               I was your weekend job.



Published January 27th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

I’ve actually already talked about this album. That being the case, I’m going to filch a pertinent paragraph from the original post:

It has been suggested that I shouldn’t call this album “[untitled]” and simply leave it at that, that I should instead conceive a more descriptive name for it. But “[untitled]” is its name. The title track is the only one that fits into the category “Where I’m going”, and those of you familiar with the song will already be aware that it is one gigantic question mark. It is not more defined because I was not more defined when I wrote it, and this entire album is a much more personal and specific reflection of me than most of my other work. It is about history and questions and laughter and no few scars. It is me, laid open, picked apart by poetry, and threaded through melody. It is a journey through the Self. And I can’t wait to share it with you all.

I really can’t explain this album any better than I already have. So for now I will simply leave you with the now official track list. You’ll note that some of the song titles are hyperlinks. This is because those songs have already been discussed on this blog, and so, like the old “Cold September Ground” tracks now reincarnated on “Faces in the Fog”, don’t need to be detailed any further.

Thus, next week, this series continues with “Weekend Job”.

Track List

  1. Cracked
  2. Weekend Job
  3. Wild Hair Time
  4. Buttons
  5. Hand-Me-Downs
  6. Lost Girls
  7. Coat of Scars
  8. Partners in Crime
  9. In a Hundred Different Ways
  10. Break Out
  11. Dancing in Flame (Tapestry of Me)
  12. Getting Lost
  13. [untitled]


Published January 21st, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

Now that you’ve met the new songs that give “Faces in the Fog” its name, perhaps you might like to know when you can get your hands on a copy of not only it, but “[untitled]” as well. I’m very excited to finally tell you. See, we’ve been working on “Faces in the Fog” since September of last year, and work on “[untitled]” technically began during that crazy Lyrics Dump thing we did, so this announcement has been a long time coming. Feel free to do a little drum roll at your computer if you like…

“Faces in the Fog” will release on Friday, April 11th!

“[untitled]” will release either in June or July. I had intended to release them both at the same time, but it looks as though we need to push “[untitled]” back by a couple of months. But no matter! I would rather have it done well and released late than have it be on time, but not made the way it wants to be made. “Cold September Ground” taught me that lesson.

So for “Faces in the Fog”, digital copies of the album should be ready immediately via Bandcamp, while physical copies will ship on or around April 22nd. The reason for the delay is that Wax Chaotic’s tour starts on April 13th, and will be taking us to Chicago, Winnipeg, Canada, and then hopefully to Minneapolis before we return home and can actually start stuffing and shipping packages.

But that release date is not very far away at all. Thinking about it is actually making me a little dizzy.

But the title of this entry mentioned something about CD pre-orders. So get this: We’re already accepting them. Yes, you can reserve your copy of either or both albums almost three+ months before they’re due out. How? By making a pledge to my IndieGoGo campaign that will fund the printing and promotion of the albums. There are a few different reward levels available that effectively allow you to pre-order either or both CDs, depending on your preference, and if you feel like splurging a little, you can get some nifty, limited edition extras, to boot.

Important Things to Note:

1.) I will not be able to afford to create physical copies of either CD without the success of this fundraiser. Period. My primary source of income is currently freelance web and graphic design, and most of what I make is quickly gobbled up by making payments on my student loans.

2.) I need to be able to effectively promote these albums in order to sell them. That means touring and performing for people, ideally in a wide variety of places, so I can keep making new fans who like the music on the CDs, but don’t already have copies. To that end, my IndieGoGo campaign will have stretch goals. The initial goal is just the bare minimum I need to get the albums printed. To promote them, I have to reach my stretch goals. There will be nifty extras that become available whenever a stretch goal amount is met.

3.) I absolutely need your help. I need you to make a pledge to the campaign if you can (and if you were intending to pre-order one or both CDs anyway, this way we both win). Whether or not your financial situation allows you to become a backer, I need you to share this project with your friends and family. Don’t just hit “Share” on Facebook and spread the link around without any context—include a personal message to let your readers know why you think I’m worth their time and attention. It is crucial that you tell people this. How often do you click on random, non-contextualized links on social media sites?

I really cannot accomplish my goals without your help. So if you enjoy my music and want to get your hands on more of it, please do what you can to get my IndieGoGo campaign up to its goals.

In the meantime, the rest of this week will see the publishing of a new series of posts, called “From Composition to Completion”, in which I’ll be detailing the process by which my music gets made. If you’ve ever been curious about my songwriting process, or how it is a finished recording is created, you won’t want to miss this series.



Published January 13th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

I wrote the original version of this song in high school. (How many songs do I have to my name now for which that is the case?) This song is about the loss of dreams, the loss of one’s sense of self, and the reclaiming of both of those things.

How many people do you know who talk about things they want to do, but aren’t doing, or who talk about things they wanted to do, but act as if they no longer have the chance to? This is a song for them. Life is not a thing that’s happening to you, it is a story that you have the power to write yourself. So don’t give up on your dreams. You need those to survive, to be human.

It is my hope that this song will help someone somewhere remember that, and reclaim dreams that they’ve lost.

Faerie Dreams
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

There was magic, once, in everything,
       from the sunset to the trees.
She watched it fall as snowflakes,
       heard it whisper on the breeze.
She knew that she belonged outside,
       to dream in rain or shine,
To make warfare over wild berries,
       and peace among the pines.

There was a dragon in the car port,
       and gremlins in the car,
A werewolf in the forest,
       and gnomes beneath the yard.
She dreamed them real, and many more,
       every night and day,
But of all the friends she played with,
       her favorite were the fey.

              And she built castles of moss and of stone,
              Decked with acorn caps and borrowed bones.
              And she peered through reality’s seams
              As she dreamed her faerie dreams.

She would lay out tiny clothes for them
       on their beds of cottonseed,
Elegant gowns of flower petals,
       walking sticks of reed.
Their feast ware was made of tiny shells
       she found around the creek,
Their statues, empty cicada hulls
       from summer’s burning peak.

But summer shortly faded,
       as all things pass with time.
She got caught up in the reason,
       but forgot about the rhyme.
Adulthood slowly stripped away
       the wonder from her eyes,
And she forgot that in dreaming,
       her inner peace resides.

              Now she builds credit and lives on her own,
              And works two jobs just to pay her student loans.
              But she must peer through maturity’s seams
              To reclaim her fairy dreams.

There was never time for daydreams
       for far too many years,
For she had obligations to fulfill,
       and far too many fears.
She had to scramble just to keep up,
       but it was never quite enough.
She tried to keep on pushing,
       she struggled to be tough.

Then one day her mother sent her
       a piece of artwork she had drawn.
There were fairies dancing ‘round
       in a ring upon the lawn.
It had been in her childhood
       that she had drawn the scene,
But it came from the past and rescued her
       like a long-forgotten key.

              Now she draws castles of moss and of stone
              That give her freedom and hope for tomorrow.
              And she remakes her reality’s seams
              With the help of her fairy dreams.

Next week there will be a very important post published! If you want to pre-order “Faces in the Fog” and/or “[untitled]“, you won’t want to miss it!



Published January 6th, 2014 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

To understand this song, you have to have seen the movie “Ink”. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’ll wait.



Have you seen it now?

Good.

I had the good fortune to see this movie when I was TAing at school one summer for one of those highschool-students-taking-a-college-course things. The instructor (who happens to be one of my favorite people for a variety of reasons) would assign the students their work and then put on a movie, because the days were pretty long and the background noise was nice. This movie utterly blew. My. Mind. I love every part of it, from the cinematography to the music to the VFX to the adorable woodenness of some of the acting. This movie is a piece of delicious, delicious art, and I knew I would have to write a song about it at some point.

This summer, I decided to do just that. This is a song for Liev, the Storyteller. I expect at some point there will be a song for Jacob, because there has to be a song for Jacob.


A Long Walk
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell
Based on the movie “Ink”

              It’s a long walk down that hallway,
              Even longer to find the key.
              It’s a long fall into numbness—
              But who knows what the end of the story may be?

I can tell from your scars your entry was painful—
A suicide, I’m guessing?
You know me—but not her?
Don’t remember what you were—
And you run from what you’re repressing.

       You think I’ve an army to cover my back,
       But I swear I’m completely alone.
       No one’s coming for me—there is no trap,
       For I came to find you on my own.

              It’s a long walk down that hallway,
              Even longer to find the key.
              It’s a long fall into numbness—
              But who knows what the end of the story may be?

This girl is your ticket to beauty and bliss—
Yet I see what you still deny.
You insist and pretend
She’s just a means to an end—
But why do I see guilt in your eyes?

       She means nothing to you, you say now and said then,
       She’s just a tool in this selfish endeavor…
       You can cover your face with your hood once again—
       But you can’t fight the truth forever.

              It’s a long walk down that hallway,
              Even longer to find the key.
              It’s a long fall into numbness—
              But who knows what the end of the story may be?

We will meet the Assembly in their hall of shadow,
Where innocence goes to drown.
You’re damned either way—
At least’s that’s what you say—
But this isn’t how it has to go down.

       Take one last look as time flows from my veins,
       Tell me you don’t feel something’s wrong.
       You thought I was here for the lioness in chains…
       But I was here for you both all along.

              It’s a long walk down that hallway,
              Even longer to find the key.
              It’s a long fall into numbness—
              But who knows what the end of the story may be?

                      This is what you will choose to be,
                      But there’s still time to write an alternate ending.
                      Look at that girl—tell me who you see—
                      And know there is no more time for pretending.

              It’s a long walk into memory,
              Made harder when shame won’t allow.
              It’s a long climb up to redemption,
              But you see now—yes…you…see…now…



Published December 30th, 2013 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

I was given this book in high school, whereupon which I added it to my shelves and promptly forgot about it.

My first semester in college, I remembered that it existed, and read it. While I was sorry I waited so long to discover a superlative piece of fiction, I was pleased to discover that there was a sequel intended, and that it would be releasing a week after I finished the book. So it worked out.

This was one of those songs that I hadn’t intended to write (at least by my recollection), but that came out all the same. I love those. I love being so moved by a thought or idea, or in this case, another author’s work of fiction, that a song weaves itself together and pops out. And I really do recommend this series. I’ve been re-reading all the books as the newest one comes out, which isn’t a thing I normally do with books. Speaking of which, I’ve been meaning to reread number four since it came out a couple of years ago…

And OH LOOK, number five is due out in May. Huzzah!


Gray One
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell
Based on The Green Rider by Kristen Britain

Ancient magic stirs that should never be released—
There’s a quiet, subtle sabotage to bring about the fall.
He bound us to his bidding with one and two apiece,
Now we all haunt the footsteps of the one who broke the Wall.

       The Gray One calls me…but I won’t answer,
       For I’m no pawn and I know my rightful track.
       The Gray One calls me—I hear him louder,
       Held in thrall by these arrows in my back.

He thinks me bound in servitude, but underestimates
The will of one determined to see a quest succeed.
He thinks he can control me, but ever more he waits,
For I must guide the footsteps of the one who’ll do the deed.

       The Gray One calls me…but I won’t answer,
       For I’m no pawn and I know my rightful track.
       The Gray One calls me—I hear him louder,
       Held in thrall by these arrows in my back.

It shouldn’t be her burden—but life is seldom fair,
Now she’s as much a part of this as I had ever been.
Torments lie ahead of her worse than I had had to bear,
For danger stalks the footsteps of the ones who wear the green.

       The Gray One calls me…but I won’t answer,
       For I’m no pawn and I know my rightful track.
       The Gray One calls me—I hear him louder,
       Held in thrall by these arrows in my back.

Somewhere down the road when the evil is revealed,
This girl will do my duty in my place.
And in her desperate hour will her magic be unsealed,
And the dead will speed the footsteps of the rider who must race.

       The Gray One calls me…but I won’t answer,
       For I’m no pawn and I know my rightful track.
       The Gray One calls me—I hear him louder,
       Held in thrall by these arrows in my back.

       Break the arrows…
       Break the arrows…



Published December 23rd, 2013 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

“Departure” fits in well with the original “Cold September Ground” songs: It’s creepy as all get-out, and it has plenty of fantastic elements to it. It’s also about some popular media, like some of the other songs on this disc. But whereas “9 Lives”, the only other gaming song on “Faces in the Fog”, is more about gaming in general, “Departure” is about one specific game.

In 2008, Microsoft Game Studios released “Alan Wake“, a trippy psychological horror game with lots of good boogeyman-jumping-out-of-the-dark scares. The game follows the titular Alan Wake as he tries to find his wife and solve the mystery not only of her disappearance, but of the paranormal things occurring in the small town where they went for vacation. Over the course of the game, Alan finds pages for a novel he can’t remember writing. The contents of this novel are coming true in chilling ways. Gradually Alan figures out what’s going on in the town and how to save his wife. And somehow in the midst of all that, he comes to call his novel “Departure”.

There were some elements of the game I really enjoyed. The lore was interesting, the setting was fun, some of the mechanics were nifty, and much of the music was excellent. Beyond that…well, Yahtzee over at The Escapist made some pretty good points. It was especially brain-breaking how the character Alan Wake was supposedly a really talented author, but seemed to completely fail to understand basic writing devices such as proper punctuation and grammar, and how he was really fond of using passive voice and other really irritating things.

But, as I said, I really enjoyed the lore. If you’re at all familiar with my songwriting, you’ll know that lore—backstory, worldbuilding, mythology, folklore—gets my creative juices flowing better than just about anything else.

So I was watching my husband play “Alan Wake” one evening, and I got the chorus for this song stuck in my head. Massaging the verses out of my brain took a little while, partially because that’s just how my brain works, and partially because I had to wait for Sean to finish the game before I could finish the song. But don’t worry—there are no spoilers. If you’re still playing through the game like some of my friends are, I tried to write this song such that it would only make one hundred percent sense to someone who has played the game all the way through before…while still including enough of the story that it would be entertaining to someone who has never even heard of the game, much less played it. It’s a balancing act, and a fine like to walk. Here’s hoping I succeeded.


Departure
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

Truer words were never written than the ones on Cauldron Lake.
I know now that coming here was a terrible mistake.
We stepped into a game that we had no intent to play,
Now it’s up to you, my love, to try to find the way.        The way out – I want out.
       It began with a dream, but now nightmare holds us fast—
       She’ll trap us in the story until the very last.
       Never stop running, don’t believe what’s before your eyes
       When evil masquerades behind the most unsuspected guise…       I’m quite taken with you…

              Wake up, wake up
              There’s still time left to find me.
              Wake up, wake up,
              Break the darkness that binds me.
              There’s terror in the night that only you can burn away,
              And a path for us to both get back into the light of day,
              But only if you wake
              Wake up.

It swirls in vague uncertainty, the world beyond the deep,
Like shadows in the twilight, like a song you hear in sleep.
Yet somewhere in the rhythm of the play ‘twixt dark and light,
I sense you’re out there searching, and you won’t give up the fight.        Outside, there’s only darkness.
       You’re in the company of madmen, the ingenious, and deranged,
       Chasing down the talent from which you feel estranged,
       Yet everything that’s happened has come from words that are your own,
       And your self-appointed editor won’t leave well enough alone.        Keep going…

              Wake up, wake up
              There’s still time left to find me.
              Wake up, wake up,
              Break the darkness that binds me.
              There’s terror in the night that only you can burn away,
              And a path for us to both get back into the light of day,
              But only if you wake
              Wake up.

The threads that bind we two into the story as it flows
Are dark with ink and blood, both, and the further that it goes,
You’ll learn the truth and find the scars even Zane could not erase,
And somehow, one way or another, it’ll all click into place.        It seems like ages I’ve waited.
       It’s a puzzle you must solve to win and make the ending yours,
       Wherein lies the key to lock or unlock certain doors.
       Then when everything is said and done and day surpasses night,
       Find the balance in the darkness so that I can find the light.        It’s not a lake… It’s an ocean.

              Wake up, wake up
              Down the rabbit hole you’ll find me
              Wake up, wake up
              Don’t walk the road so blindly
              Beset upon by nightmare, you’re the man of my dreams,
              And I need you to fight for me, despite how hard it seems,
              So please, Wake…
              Wake up.



Published December 16th, 2013 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

“A Flame That Burns in Darkness”, like many of the “Cold September Ground” songs, is something I originally wrote in high school. Unlike those songs, however, this version has not only been completely rewritten, but completely reimagined. The ideas behind “Wet Velvet” and “Jack the Ripper” are still pretty much the same as they used to be. But this song, like “Cold September Ground”, has turned into something altogether different.

“A Flame That Burns in Darkness” was originally my attempt at a poignant, sad spacer song. …you can probably infer how well I pulled it off by the fact that I ripped the title from that concept and stuck it onto something that is not in any way related to space.

Also, fun fact: Back in high school, I made my first attempt at recording my own album. It didn’t work out, but that album was titled “A Flame That Burns in Darkness”, and the original version of this song was to be the title track. The tune for the original was another Deanna Roberts-Blair creation (“Kiss Me, Jak Frost”, “Jack the Ripper”), and part of the cover art is now the Firesong Productions logo. (That was drawn by my good friend Rebecca Appelbaum, by the way. She’s amazing.)

Instead of space, this new song is instead based on Grecian mythology. When I wrote this version, I had no intention for it to bear this name. I was just writing on a bit of an idea I’d had—an idea that came out a bit more freeform than how I usually write, and I was thus not sure it would ever be able to become a song. After playing with things a bit, I was able to write this, and I’m very happy with how it turned out.

And yes, it’s pretty morbid, but it does have a good message: Do all with your life that you could wish, and be kind to one another.


A Flame That Burns in Darkness
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

I am the flame in the lantern
On the boat that ferries you across
The woeful river.
I light the way into the true
Great Unknown.
I glow in the darkness as you all
Huddle on the deck together
And the currents draw you
Farther from home.

I illuminate the gateway
That prevents your passage backward
Through the veil.
I am the note you leave your loved ones
Who follow after,
The only glimmer of hope you can give
That you know will never fail,
That where they find themselves next
Will be filled with light and laughter.

       But don’t seek my compassion,
       It doesn’t work that way.
       I’m only what you make of me.
       That’s just the part I play.

I am witness to your uncertainty,
Your reluctant shuffling off,
Your lacking of choice.
Bound into a plan you can’t control
And have no say in,
Your shock isn’t that it’s over,
But that you suddenly have no voice.
You’re so used to having your say,
But now there’s no way you can weigh in.

No matter your status in life,
All of you are equal on
The River.
Know that I won’t remember you once
You disembark.
Does the thought that you are forgettable
Make your skin crawl, make you shiver?
Well only those with reason to be
Are fearful of the dark.

       So don’t seek my compassion,
       It doesn’t work that way.
       I’m only what you make of me.
       That’s just the part I play.

What was the kind of life you led?
In your agency, were you cruel,
Kind, or devout?
When you had control, what did
You use it for?
You seem to me to be the kind
That used your power and clout
To take your fair share
And much more.

Now on the doorstep of the next world,
You find that for the first time
You must learn
What it’s like to tell something precious
Goodbye.
And you seek to warm hands that aren’t cold
Over fire that doesn’t burn,
To assuage your terror now that
You find all your power was a lie.

       Don’t seek my compassion,
       It doesn’t work that way.
       I’m only what you make of me.
       That’s just the part I play.

       That’s just the part I play.



Published December 9th, 2013 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

A couple of years ago, I went to a friend’s house and she showed Sean and me the movie “Coraline“. Produced by Laika, this stop-motion animated film had it all: A beautiful original score, talented voice acting, masterful animation, beautiful shot and art direction, and oh yeah, it was based on a story written by Neil Gaiman. The movie has some differences from the story (because of course), but it is one of my most favorite things ever. And I can really, really relate to Coraline’s relationship with her parents.

In the movie, they never examine the Ghost Children’s backgrounds, and in the book, the Ghost Children are completely different. So I sort of had to take some liberties to write this song, but I did base the verses off the apparent time periods of the movie Ghost Children. As she’s babbling to the character Wybie, Coraline describes the Ghost Children as “…this pioneer girl, then Huck Finn Jr., then it was this Little Rascals chick…” So given that information, I guessed.

The first girl would have come west on the Oregon Trail, most likely, which is well-known for being fraught with peril. (In case you missed it, that reference was a joke, but seriously, the Oregon Trail was no picnic.)

The boy I figured might have been born to a father who was a lumberjack, and possibly, due to difficult times or just a naturally mean demeanor, abusive. I can see a little boy yearning for escapism like that provided by the Other Mother because of such a scenario. And this might be more of a modern-day train of thought, but how many rough, tough, burly men do you know that are comfortable with their sons playing with dolls?

And the third ghost was likely growing up during the Great Depression. That’s definitely cause for wanting some escapism right there. She might have been too young to fully understand what was going on (“And an odd, malignant misery”), but children are very perceptive.

This song came for me while I was at work one day. It was one of those that came tumbling out of my head. It was just in time for Halloween in 2012. There’s a recording of it up on Wax Chaotic’s ReverbNation profile from a concert we performed in December of 2012. The keyboard voice was chosen because it sounded sort of like a music box, and that seemed wholly appropriate.

I love this song. And yes, apparently I think that breathing is for wimps.


Hush and Shush
Lyrics and music by Katt McConnell

She sells you pretty promises
With wonders, treats, and games galore,
Knowing no matter how she gives,
That you’ll always want more.
A treat my father thought he found
Turned out to be a spy,
And they only know I disappeared—
But they’ll never know why.

I admit that I was foolish,
But the journey West was hard—
My mother and two brothers
Didn’t make it quite this far.
I yearned to find a perfect world,
But didn’t factor in the cost,
Then I took the chance to reunite
With loved ones I had lost.

       Hush and shush
       Or the Beldam will hear you—
       You’re a fly in her web,
       Don’t let her come near you
       With her needle and thread,
       Don’t believe what she’s said,
       And don’t let her sew the buttons
       Like we did.

Between the pines and firs
And the redwoods grown for centuries,
I played at war with other boys,
And pushed against my boundaries.
It wasn’t quite refusal
To follow given rules,
It was more of an escape route
From a father cold and cruel.

Then I found myself revealing
An escape that was quite different,
And to my great joy and delight,
She said it could be permanent.
I don’t recall my name,
But here, behind the mirrored glass,
I remember my true mommy
And wonder how she is.

       Hush and shush
       Or the Beldam will hear you—
       You’re a fly in her web,
       Don’t let her come near you
       With her needle and thread,
       Don’t believe what she’s said,
       And don’t let her sew the buttons
       Like we did.

I grew up in misty mountains
Where the rain is filled with mystery,
With my parents and my sister—
And an odd, malignant misery.
I had imagination,
And not a whole lot more,
Until I found the world of wonder
Through that tiny, wooden door.

I was trapped just like the others,
And like them, I yearn to run,
But we cannot leave this prison world
Until our favor’s done.
Oh, find us, girl, and free us fast,
And we’ll help get you home,
And be smart, for even if you win,
She’ll never let you go.

       Hush and shush
       Or the Beldam will hear you—
       You’re a fly in her web,
       Don’t let her come near you
       With her needle and thread,
       Don’t believe what she’s said,
       And don’t let her sew the buttons
       Like we did.

       Hush and shush, Mistress,
       Hush and shush, Mistress,
       Hush and shush…shhh…



Published December 2nd, 2013 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

As I announced in August, Dragon Scale Studios’ next big project is a dual album endeavor. The first album we’re working is called “Faces in the Fog”, and will contain all of the tracks from “Cold September Ground”, our first project, completely re-recorded, re-mixed, re-mastered, and in some cases, even re-arranged, as well as six brand new tracks from which the work draws its name. We’re thinking of these six new tracks as an EP, so when combined with the “Cold September Ground” content, the end result is something altogether different.

Creating the production notes posts for “Cold September Ground” was a lot of fun, and gave me a chance not only to talk about the process of creating each track, but also allowed me to share the lyrics and the songs’ backgrounds prior to publication. I have decided, therefore, so continue doing production notes posts for “Faces in the Fog”, and then for “[untitled]“, which is the second album that will be part of this dual release.

I’ve already gone in-depth with the original “Cold September Ground” tracks, so those will not be covered in this series. To learn about them, look them up under the “Cold September Ground” production notes tag. Obviously since we’re re-recording everything, the process will be somewhat different this time around, but I don’t think that I need to go into great detail for every single one of those songs. Plus the lyrics and the inspiration behind them have already been described.

Instead, we’re going to start this series next week with a post about “Hush and Shush”, track 14 on “Faces in the Fog”.



Published April 30th, 2012 at 10:00 am EST/EDT
firesongblog

At the end of the small set I and my friends performed as part of my Capstone project, I took questions from the audience. One of those questions, posed by my friend Brat, was “Would you be willing to make a theme song for my game?” She was referring to her own Capstone project.

My response to her question was a very confident and reassuring, “I will try!

She contacted me about it again in January. I was both pleased and nervous. I was pleased because it was my first song commission and I really wanted to take the project. But I was nervous because creativity has its own whims and I wasn’t sure I would be able to bend those whims to my will. But I took the project and Brat sent me some details for it.

These details mostly consisted of background on the game she was working on. I needed this information, of course, so that I had something to write about. And even so, it was really interesting writing this song. Usually when I write songs I have a much greater understanding of their background, whether it’s something I’m basing off my own life or off a book, TV show, et cetera. With this game, all I had were Brat’s notes and that was it. I felt a little bit like I was flying blind. Therefore, I resolved to fling some words at a sheet of paper and then see what she thought of them.

The Muses were merciful in this instance and I was able to get the first verse and a tune at the same time. And quickly, to boot. But I found after writing the first verse that I wasn’t able to think of anything else to write and that I needed more background. So I sent what I had to Brat for approval, which I got, and I also sent her a list of questions to try and suss out some other details so that I could finish the song.

And then Brat got sick.

As I’m sure everyone knows, being sick sucks. So It’s no wonder I didn’t hear back from her for a little while.

A month later she sent me the info I needed. I sat down and hammered out a second verse and managed a chorus. I wasn’t one hundred percent sure about the tune, but I sent the entirety of the lyrics off to Brat. She responded with enthusiasm, so I figured the next step was to take the song to my musical partners in crime to get it chorded and arranged. They knocked it out in the space of about an hour and a half, and they helped me figure out the last kink in the tune. When I say my bandmates constantly amaze me, this is the sort of thing I’m talking about.

So by this point it was the second week of March. Brat needed the song fully recorded, mixed, and mastered no later than April 6th. …yeah. Commence Operation Get This Bugger Recorded.

Sean and I spent the next week and a half running through the song at least once a night most nights (with the exception of the night of our concert as part of S(cubed)apalooza). Then it was time to start recording. I was very excited to get back into the studio (and am also very excited about my next opportunity).

This was Sean’s first time in the studio to record guitar. I’d shoved a microphone in front of his face before for “The Stallion and the Rose: The Debt” and “The Singing of Dragons”, but even so, I think he was still a bit nervous. It didn’t help that we haven’t really done any practicing with a metronome, but I always record with one. (And we’ll be making an effort to practice with one more often from now on.) But even so, he did an excellent job.

The main vocal was a cinch. It’s not perfect, but I try to recognize the fact that it’s not possible for anything to ever be perfect. Otherwise, I will drive myself insane trying to achieve the unattainable.

In the interim while I was waiting for my scheduled time with the other musicians I worked with, I laid down the tambourine and djembe parts. For the tambourine, I had recently acquired this nifty rig that bolts to a mic stand (or other similar apparatus) and holds the tambourine steady. I then hit the tambourine with timpani mallets (which are padded). It was a much better way of doing things. I had quite a bit more control over the instrument with this set-up. When I played tambourine for “Stepping Stones”, I was just shaking it, and it didn’t work nearly as well.

The djembe recording was pretty straightforward. I hope to someday have a kick mic to pick up those low frequencies better.

The next instrument I recorded was a real treat. I’d never recorded bass guitar before, let alone a purely electric bass. Ally helped me conscript our friend Stephen Luckett (whom I call “Anime”—long story, don’t ask), with whom she’d been in a band a few years ago. He was enthusiastic and very fun to work with. He was even barely hampered by the fact that my set-up currently doesn’t allow for echo during recording. So he couldn’t hear his part at all while he was playing.

He left the studio saying that when Ally had showed him the scratch recording, he wasn’t sure what his playing a bass part could add to it. But after listening to the current mix with his part added in, he understood why we thought bass was a good idea.

Lastly, I needed vocal harmonies. Ally was on board for those. She arranged them herself (in addition to Anime’s bass part) and knocked tracks for both parts out quite quickly. This was the first time I had recorded vocals for her, and as always, she’s fun to work with.

This is easily one of my most favorite songs I’ve written if only because it’s so much fun to perform. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoy performing it.

Buy it here


Surviving Through the Game
Lyrics by Katt McConnell, music by Katt McConnell with thanks to Wax Chaotic
Commissioned by Brat Conway for the game “The Chronicles of the Lost Dimensions”

It was always easier to hide,
To never turn to face the shadows
Behind
Or the monster inside…

My secrets should never be revealed,
For they’re dangerous to all those I
Love—
But now they can’t be concealed,
For the nightmare is real,
And the truth will at last be my shield!

       Some choose adventure
       Some are chosen by fate
       If I know what’s good for me I’ll choose
       To escape

       To some, it’s all about winning
       To some, it’s all wealth and fame
       Here, right now, it’s only about
       Surviving through the game.

You are not the only one that finds
They have a destiny that tangles and
Binds
With chains of many kinds…

If it kills me, by gods, I’ll follow through—
I’m not a hero, I just do what needs
Done.
But this I promise you:
Your fetters I’ll undo!
(And maybe I’ll save myself, too.)


Lyrics by Katt McConnell, music by Katt McConnell with thanks to Wax Chaotic
Performed by Wax Chaotic, feat. Stephen Luckett
Katt McConnell—Main vocal, percussion, engineering, mixing, mastering
Sean McConnell—Guitar
Allyson Clarkson—Vocal harmony arrangements and performance, bass guitar arrangement
Stephen Luckett—Bass



Published November 9th, 2011 at 5:00 pm EST/EDT
firesongblog

Well, the album is officially off to the printer. There are new song samples up on the Music page. I am beside myself with excitement. Through all of this, though, I thought that it might perhaps be a good idea to take a moment and acknowledge everything that all of my talented helpers have done on “Cold September Ground”. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people during this project and want to celebrate all their hard work. Here, then, is the nitty gritty of what’s been done on the album.

Chord transcription—Cernowain Greenman

Cold September Ground
Katt McConnell—Lyrics, melody, main vocal, bodhran, engineering, mixing, mastering
Gabrielle Aumei—Melody, high harmony arrangements, high harmony performance
Crystal Wolf—Guitar, low harmony arrangements, low harmony performance

Kiss Me, Jak Frost
Katt McConnell—Lyrics, main vocal, sleigh bells, engineering, mixing, mastering
Deanna Roberts-Blair—Melody
Gabrielle Aumei—High harmony arrangements, high harmony performance
Crystal Wolf—Guitar, low harmony arrangements, low harmony performance
Judy Eudaly—Harp arrangements, harp performance
Ally Clarkson—Musical consultation

The Garden
Katt McConnell—Lyrics, melody, main vocal, whispers, engineering, mixing, mastering
Gabrielle Aumei—High harmony arrangements, high harmony performance
Crystal Wolf—Guitar, low harmony arrangements, low harmony performance
Ally Clarkson—Flute arrangements with help from Katt McConnell, flute performance

Fall from Grace
Katt McConnell—Lyrics, melody, main vocal, wind, background vocals, engineering, mixing, mastering
Gabrielle Aumei—High harmony arrangements, high harmony performances, wind, background vocals
Crystal Wolf—Guitar, low harmony arrangements, low harmony performance

Runaway
Katt McConnell—Lyrics, melody, main vocal, engineering, mixing, mastering
Gabrielle Aumei—High harmony arrangements, high harmony performance
Crystal Wolf—Guitar, low harmony arrangements, low harmony performance

The Stallion and the Rose: The Choice
Katt McConnell—Lyrics, melody, main vocal, djembe, engineering, mixing, mastering
Gabrielle Aumei—The Daughter
Crystal Wolf—Guitar
Barry Childs-Helton—The Father

By Blood
Katt McConnell—Lyrics, melody, main vocal, bodhran, engineering, mixing, mastering
Gabrielle Aumei—High harmony arrangements, high harmony performance
Crystal Wolf—Guitar, low harmony arrangements, low harmony performance

Wet Velvet
Katt McConnell—Lyrics, melody, main vocal, wolf howl, engineering, mixing, mastering
Gabrielle Aumei—High harmony arrangements, high harmony performance, wolf howl
Crystal Wolf—Guitar, low harmony arrangements, low harmony performance, wolf howl

Jack the Ripper
Katt McConnell—Lyrics, main vocal, engineering, mixing, mastering
Deanna Roberts-Blair—Melody
Gabrielle Aumei—High harmony arrangements, high harmony performance
Crystal Wolf—Guitar

Stepping Stones
Katt McConnell—Lyrics, melody, main vocal, djembe, shakers, engineering, mixing, mastering
Gabrielle Aumei—High harmony arrangements, high harmony performance
Crystal Wolf—Guitar, low harmony arrangements, low harmony performance

The Stallion and the Rose: The Debt
Katt McConnell—Lyrics, melody, main vocal, djembe, engineering, mixing, mastering
Gabrielle Aumei—The Daughter
Crystal Wolf—Guitar
Barry Childs-Helton—The Father
Sean McConnell—Sir Adwain

The Singing of Dragons
Katt McConnell—Lyrics, melody, main vocal, engineering, mixing, mastering
Gabrielle Aumei—High harmony arrangements, high harmony performance
Crystal Wolf—Guitar, low harmony arrangements, low harmony performance
Allyson Clarkson—Arrangements for male vocals
Jesse Dollar—Tenor harmony
Sean McConnell—Baritone harmony
Barry Childs-Helton—Bass harmony
Betsy Tinney—Cello, engineering for cello

9 Lives
Katt McConnell—Lyrics, melody, main vocal, engineering, mixing, mastering
Gabrielle Aumei—High harmony arrangements, high harmony performance
Crystal Wolf—Guitar, low harmony arrangements, low harmony performance

Much help was given on this project for all of the above by my Capstone mentor, Ricardo Laranja. I would also like to thank Beth Lykins, another of my professors, for her help with the album’s artwork. And the tech support crew at school have been phenomenal, as well.

Also, for the record, Betsy Tinney was fantastic to work with. I contacted her very, very late in the game—practically at the last minute, really—about a cello part for “The Singing of Dragons”. I told her I needed to have it by November 1st so that I would have enough time to finalize the track by my printer deadline. Despite her busy schedule, she managed to meet that deadline. Her performance was also very competent, as you can hear not only on my track, but in her wide body of other work. Her fee was also most reasonable. To hear more of Betsy’s work, check out her website, stealthcello, or visit SJ Tucker’s website.

I cannot extend enough thanks to all the people who have helped me with this project. You have my undying gratitude for investing your time and talent and helping me graduate with style. I hope I will have the privilege of working with you again.