My nerves vanish quickly; muscle memory returning. Oxygen flying though my throat, the pulse of rhythm overtaking muscle, the touch of instrument. The past years of performing a mere handful of times cannot remove the cumulative miles I have put onstage. But I savor what is new and undiscovered in fresh returning. I am self-conscious now in new ways. I am older, an older woman. Aging in the spotlight seems excruciating, worse than being young in the spotlight and reduced to body parts. And what have I to say? What is this all about? Twenty years ago, there was nothing to question. Music was my lifeline, my reason, my tie to the living. It protected me from loneliness, from my enormous feelings of loneliness, and if I did not fit in the world, I fit there. Music had space for me, met with equal velocity. But the business didn’t seem to — I never surfaced and rose to what was initially expected of me, and not to a place which was sustainable. I was a conundrum, a commercial disappointment. I thought too much.
Love to hear you dropping these hints of something new brewing. I always chafe at the "how many tickets are you worth" question. (My heart answers, All of them!) You and your decades of important songs and singular records are certainly worth all of the tickets.
Tift, I hope that when you have these doubts you remember that there are a lot of us here who love you and we love your music. Maybe there were commercial aspirations set by the business that you didn't meet, but more importantly there are people like me who's soul you have touched and will always support you in whatever you do. Place yourself in our hands and we will GUARD you! 💟 💟
I just read through your beautiful prose (been really busy lately) dearest Tift, I thought about writing this before I read through the Comments section. I guess I am echoing what David Grubbs has written so aptly, that there are plenty of folks, myself included, that love, love, love ❤️ you and your music 🎵!! ❤️❤️❤️ You are making records 💿 and singing 🎤 for us, we are so much indebted to you and if you ever feel like coming back on stage 👩🎤, know that you have a loving audience that will be eager and chomping at the bits to see you play live again, whenever you feel that the time is right on your own terms and accord and not to the whims of the music industry or the powers that be, be damned with them, Hah!! 😄🤘🤗
Thank you again for opening up to us. I’ve been to a couple hundred concerts (only 10-15 to see you) and yours certainly resonate with me, no matter what the expectations were (for you or me or business or whomever). Keep being you, and we’ll be here to support you.
You’re unvarnished assessment of the music business hits right on target. I’m a guy, but I’m in James Taylor’s and Bonnie Raitt’s age class, but I write and play better now than when I was in the rat race in NYC and Nashville. We’d have a lot to talk about. I’ll send you my CD or you can listen to it on Spotify or iMusic
This is a beautiful essay and reflection. Thank you, Tift, for sharing your art in all its forms. We are listening.