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Apple Tree

2017 was a painful year for me. Leonard Cohen had not long died, and then not too many months later Chris Cornell killed himself, and I didn't know how I was supposed to keep going without my musical heroes on top of everything else.

I figured one of the things weighing me down was this dream of singing that I had always carried and never done anything about.

It made sense to me at the time to find a way to either do something about it, or let go of the longing for good by putting it on some old shelf in an abandoned room, locking the door, and throwing away the key.

It was incredibly difficult for me to process this, so at some point I made a deal with myself to decide one or the other within a year of Chris Cornell's death.

I mentioned it to Heather, my closest musical friend who understood a little of what it's like to be me without judging it. And so I set the timer, and got on with things.

During winter, I spent weeks and weeks painting every single room of my house in a low-key celebration of the fact it was no longer a rental but ours.

I listened to music constantly through my phone and bluetooth speaker - often while at the top of a ladder and unable to check what was being played when I came across a song that resonated with me and the paint fumes.

High up a ladder in my bedroom, painting in some made up shade of grey, I heard a song that made me weep. Something about getting so damn old and hanging from a tree. It really made me cry... such a bittersweet song that carried much longing.

I couldn't leave the ladder, so I committed a few lines to memory, and then googled them later... and so discovered Apple Tree by Marika Hackman.

In that moment, I decided I would learn that song and sing it somehow, even if just to myself. So I did.

As part of the deal with myself, I learned Apple Tree on my guitar and then sang a very rough recording of it to listen to. I really liked it. So I got brave and asked Heather if she wanted to hear a little cover I had done, and she said yes.

She listened, and said she loved it, and never knew my voice sounded like it did, and I should do something about it, and find a way to keep on singing.

Which was lovely to hear.

And then I got on as best I could with the days ahead of me.

Late October, Heather called while I was at work with birthday wishes, and said 'guess who's going to be doing some recording'?!

I remember wondering if she was and maybe she wanted me to do some harmony for it...

Anyway, turns out she meant me :)

She said she'd reconnected with Dan Stenhouse, an old Country Music Club friend of hers from when we were young. Apparently he lived close by and was recording music and Heather arranged for us to go visit him and talk about music.

That made me feel a little hopeful and a lot nervous.

One day in November, I walked through his door and met one of my kind.

Within a few months we made a plan to have a day of recording together, and the first song I sang was Apple Tree.

Dan worked his magic adding instrumentation and harmonies and mixed and mastered the track without me realising he was working on it at all, until one day he said there was a present for me in our dropbox folder.

I listened to our first song and it made me cry.

And that's the story of the Apple Tree :)


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