Day 22: The Nields Rehearse a New Song

posted January 21, 2018

Katryna and I sang “Tyrants Always Fall” yesterday at the Women’s March in Northampton. So many people, so many pink hats, so much courage and strength! 2018 is our year, people! We will take back the House and Senate! We will put a stop to the madness! We must act, and quickly.

So now, after all my griping and despair about the viability of the record album (what some call “CDs” and what young people have no word for anymore), I now appear to be writing one. Yes! YES!!! I think we might even record it this summer. We might title it Songs of Hope and Resistance (though Patty and Katryna will certainly veto that as being too obvious and Brechtian, though they will not say “Brechtian”). (It’s a terrible title. Come up with a better one). Here’s what we have so far:

Tyrants Always Fall
Gonna Build a Boat
America the Beautiful
Butterfly
Bicycle
Hudson

Six songs is halfway to 12, and I have so many ideas now! It’s so funny how you go from not thinking you can write anything to feeling like that muscle is just on, and that everything makes you think of a song.

Songs come in two ways, for me. One is through Katryna. I feel as though, at times, I am her giant blond writing pen. She gives me an idea, I start to write it, I come back to her, she coaches and encourages and supplies some more ideas. Voila!

The other way is when a song melody pops into my head after I wake up from a dream. These song starts sometimes contain a bit of lyric, and it is then my job to grab the thread and follow it through the labyrinth.

We, the Nields, are rehearsing for two upcoming shows. The first is this Saturday Jan 27 at Rockwood in NYC. We’re on at 7pm on Stage 2, and we will debut this new song called Bicycle, which I wrote over MLK weekend at my writing retreat. We debuted “Tyrants Always Fall” in the exact same space last year. And then we’ll bring our show home to the Iron Horse, where we’ll do our annual blowout on Feb. 3. Expect to see some special guests, including our children.

How lucky am I to still have my band after 27 years? A friend posted on Facebook about Tom Petty’s coroner’s report. My first thought was for his band. We are all so deeply interconnected, and I can’t help but think that Petty kept playing and performing over the intense pain in his hip in part because he belonged to so many others besides himself.

Here’s a video of us learning “Bicycle.” Lyrics below. Our first rehearsal ever at Norfolk Studios!

Bicycle

My daughter rides her bike to school
When it’s rainy, when it’s cold
It doesn’t matter, it’s her rule
And you could call her a feminist
Committed environmentalist
But I call her a girl.

My girl says she will not eat meat
It’s the carbon, it’s the cruelty;
She is voting with her feet
And you can call her inspiring
And sometimes a little tiring
But she just calls it obvious.

If there’s a God above
And if she’s a god of love
Give me the strength to follow that girl

I drive my mini van to work
It’s convenient, I’m a member of
A great progressive parent herd
And you can call me compromised
Overworked, ironic, civilized
But I call me asleep.

If there’s a God above
And if she’s a god of love
Please wake me up to follow that girl

Susan B Anthony salutes
All the girls on their bikes
Trading in their skirts for suits
And you can call it liberty
And why we should learn history
But my girl calls it the way to school.
She calls it the way to school.
She calls it the way to school.

There is a line of girls
That circles all around the world
And we will all follow that girl.

Nerissa Nields
Jan 14, 2018
© 2018 Peter Quince Publishing ASCAP All Rights Reserved

The Comments

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  1. Love this. It reminds me that what we think of as a modern life for women is only about 100 years old… and we’re still working on moving it forward…. but what was revolutionary for my mom is normal for me. I’m delighted that your daughter has an even better normal than I do.

  2. You could take a leaf from Beth DeSombre’s early playbook and take the CD title from one of the lines in your songs. Maybe call it
    “Susan B. Anthony Salutes” or “Follow That Girl”

  3. I also love “Follow That Girl”! (Although there might be some concerns about gender norms? And also there was a sign at the Cambridge march reminding us that Susan B. Anthony was quick to forget about non-white women when it suited her needs. Sigh.)

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