Three Funerals and an Album

Heather Stewart

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My father passed away a couple years ago.  My uncle one month before him.  Another uncle a month after.  I went to three funerals in the span of three months all at the same funeral home.  I’m fairly certain the funeral home was getting suspicious of the ladies in our family.  Had any of the men who passed away been rich, there would have been some arrests.  If it weren’t my actual life, I would have thought I was playing a part in a film.  Except Hugh Grant was nowhere to be found.

During that time, I felt so numb yet the most alert I had been in years.  I was angry yet overwhelmed by love.  Things were funnier and more painful.  I felt more and less. You know those moments you have in life where you are doing something mundane and you think, “What the f*ck is THIS all about?!”  Death feels like that except for much longer moments, strung together, for quite a while.  It was during one of these extended, painful WTF moments that I noticed a refrigerator magnet for sale in line at a flower shop.  “Life is what happens when you are making plans!”  I stared at it .  For a long time.  It made so much sense and it was so annoying.  Death can make even the most nauseating clichés very poignant.

Plans.  Yeah.  I had been “planning” a lot of things.  The biggest plan was to record my second album (I’m a singer-songwriter). I had been “planning” it for five years.  Five. Years. Of. My. Life.  But I wasn’t planning; I was avoiding.  Terrified.   “I blew my wad on the first one!  It was a fluke! I’m a fraud!  People will hate it!”  I felt all these things but told myself the next album was “in the works”.  Then that little ceramic magnet put it all in perspective.    “Life is what happens when you are making plans!”   (Please apply whiney, high-pitched sarcastic voice.)

I bought that stupid magnet and I started writing the music for my second album.  I wrote songs I did not think I was capable of writing.  I wrote songs with other songwriters I would have been afraid to even talk to in the past.  I wrote for my father.   I wrote because I was afraid not to.  I wrote because life goes by fast and loved ones die.  I wrote because I wanted to stop making plans.  I wrote to save my life and to live my life.

I started out thinking I was just going to record a 5 song EP.  It would be easier, less money, not as intimidating.  I worked with producer Greg Critchley and we decided the album needed a very organic and raw sound.  Not a lot of layered tracks, recorded at different times and places but one live take.  It’s called recording “live off the floor”.  Greg assembled the most amazing group of musicians I have ever had the pleasure of working with.  We played these musicians an acoustic version of the songs in studio, day of, and then let them interpret it the way the felt it.  The moment they started playing the first song I couldn’t breathe.  I thought I was having an asthma attack.  Then I started crying.  I quite literally got choked up.  The music, my music, my father, my uncles, five years of my life, hell, the rest of my life, was pouring out into the studio.  It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard.

After that, I knew I had to do an entire album of music.  Five songs weren’t enough.  On October 8th my sophomore album came out and I had a CD Release party here in Los Angeles.  I looked around the room and saw all of my friends and family and again I cried.  I did it.  I made it happen.  I know my father was there.  I know my uncles were there.  As for Hugh Grant, I think he was busy making plans.

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