Mark Erelli

April 2019 Newsletter

April 2019 Newsletter

One of my favorite Wilco songs, "What Light," notes that while the creative process intrinsically belongs to the artist, what is created must ultimately be set free for all to enjoy. Songwriter Jeff Tweedy suggests that when writing a song or painting a painting, your only job is to remain true to your vision, regardless of what anyone else thinks about it. I have always passionately identified with this fierce allegiance to the act of creation.

But later in the song, Tweedy addresses the aftermath of the creative process, suggesting that "If the whole world's singing your songs / And all your paintings have been hung / Just remember what was your's is everyone's from now on." This is the part I've always struggled with, particularly after making a record. I definitely want folks to hear and identify with what I've done, the more the merrier. But how the songs are received--or if they are even truly heard--is out of my hands, to an almost alarming degree.

Creation's singularity of purpose, or as Tweedy describes it "Just sing what you feel / Don't let anyone say it's wrong," is so comforting, requiring a degree of focus and simplicity that stand in stark contrast to world that awaits. After a record is made, an independent artist desiring to be heard is confronted by a multitude of jobs, each one demanding a skill set that only minimally overlaps my own. The artistic whiplash from pivoting from the thing you do best to a place of uncertainty and doubt is emotionally and physically draining.

I just finished a new album that has consumed me for the past four months, and now that it's done I feel that familiar sense of sorrow and powerlessness creeping in. This might explain why artists often write one amazing new song just after completing a record, the result of feverishly trying to return to that place of creative comfort. I've definitely written a few promising new songs lately. But I'm also waking up at 3 or 4 in the morning, my mind instantly consumed with what comes next, how to do right by the music I've brought into this world. In a word, it sucks.

I suspect that I'm not alone on this artistic and emotional rollercoaster, but it's not something I've discussed extensively with my peers. We pivot from cupping our hands around the delicate spark of creativity, to circling the wagons as we struggle with creation's aftermath. I've felt this way after literally every record I've made, a crushing suffocation of uncertainty not with what I've created, but with how to get enough to hear it so that it truly feels like it "is everyone's from now on."

The notion I cling to is that while I feel alone in the wake of creation, I am not alone: I have all of you. I'm still figuring out how and when to release this new record, and I appreciate your support and patience. And trust me when I say that I literally cannot wait til what was mine becomes yours, forever.

MP3 of the MONTH: Fittingly, this month's free song is a live cover of Elizabeth & The Catapult's "The Other Side Of Zero." I identify so deeply with this song that it almost makes me uncomfortable, but what a gift it is for someone give voice to what you were convinced was a private struggle. If you don't know Elizabeth Ziman's work, you simply must check it out. She is a stunning talent. Download "The Other Side of Zero" for free for the month of April. Enjoy!


Thu Apr 25 - Cotuit Center for the Arts, Cotuit MA - 7:30 pm** **supporting Lori McKenna
Fri Apr 26 - Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport MA - 8 pm**
Not one but TWO beautiful arts centers located near the ocean, opening for and playing with the amazing Lori McKenna?!? Pinch me. I love playing in her band, but it's always great to get the chance to kick off the night and play some songs of my own. She sells out every show she does, so get tickets now!

Sat Apr 27 - Parlor Room, Northampton MA - 7:30 pm
I love this room and the people who run it. Shows here are presented by my former record label, Signature Sounds, and between the old friends and posters of me as a younger artist on the walls, shows here always feel like taking a victory lap around your high school. I love coming back to Northampton, but only if I get to see you.

No sideman gigs this month, but you never do know where I'll pop up unexpectedly.

ON THE HORIZON: (check the website for tickets and reservations)
May 5 - Songs of Hope & Conviction with The Shinolas, Infinity Hall, Hartford CT
May 16 - O'Shea's, West Dennis MA
May 17 - The Cabot, Beverly MA (opening for Richard Thompson)
May 18 - Palace Theatre Spotlight Room, Manchester NH
May 31 - Passim, Cambridge MA
June 1 - The Barn, Egremont MA


updated: 5 months ago