I can’t cry. I’ve been this way since I was a teenager. To be more specific, I can’t cry in grief. In happiness and joy, I’m actually quite prone to shedding a few tears. I well up at weddings, and tear-jerker movies cut straight into me. I recently cried (a lot) at my own wedding, bringing into clarity this distinction between joy/grief responses. Beautiful things that bring into focus the grand poetry of life certainly make me cry. When it comes to sad things though, when hardship befalls me or my loved ones, I don’t even well up. At best I’ll get one short release every few years, and often the drought season is longer.
Since releasing my last album (Live at the Marigny Opera House), I left New Orleans, my home for eight formative years. I suffered the financial catastrophe of a musician during COVID. One of my closest loved ones was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I myself was diagnosed with cancer and promptly had two organs removed to cure it. In that whole span of events my body allowed me one, brief cry. I often used to wonder, what is wrong with me? Why am I so emotionally repressed? Why aren’t I crying? As I searched for answers I found that in lieu of tears, I was writing music.
I have come to understand composition to be one of the primary ways in which I process grief. It took a while to see, as it’s often a delayed reaction and rarely linear. Grief is a universal experience, but everyone has a unique process. In the words of Kendrick Lamar, “everybody grieves different”. Gone are the days of my early twenties when I wrote songs aimed at impressing others, proving myself, intellectualizing and following brain over ear. Now I trust my instincts. More and more, I have people telling me that my songs speak to them. I’ve noticed this is increasingly common as I learn to write and perform from a place of true honesty and vulnerability. In order for me to genuinely express myself, I first must truly understand myself. To witness this type of honesty, to hear the human experience being conveyed, that is what emotionally compels the audience. Greater than any advancement in harmony or melody or form, I believe acceptance and embracement of myself has been the single most significant development in my songwriting in the past few years.
I still don’t know why I can’t cry, but I do know that I’m processing in other ways, in lieu of tears. This album is my grieving process. I hope it will speak to you, and remind you that there is beauty in all things.
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