Blue Railroad Review

by Paul Zollo

“She writes the kind of songs people say nobody writes anymore.  The kind of songs written by the greatest of the great singer-songwriters – songs with uniquely poetic lyric wed to gorgeous melodies, songs in which both the words and the music are equally inventive and inspired.”

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A broken ear, matted greying fur, a scrapper of a dog flinches
a crouching jump — startling to look at me. Almost growling,
a tentative curl to his upper lip, his jaw tosses and chomps
on a morsel of detritus from beside the dumpster
in the Motel 6 parking lot. With starving purpose, he sniffs
and claws to hold and lick the inside surface of a grease-soaked
paper bag. I notice the panting breath of his ribcage,
gaunt and skeletal, beneath his thinning coat. The elegant tendons
of his back legs are poised, trembling, as he finishes, licks his chops,
and scrutinizes me again.

How long has it been? Will someone pick him up — or off?
From wild eyes, he concludes his last, long look at me, and turns
to lope away with a crooked, limping gait.
And in some distant recess of my inner ear I hear a whisper,
keep going, keep moving, don’t stop.

  1. there but for hear paula read: there but for 1:20

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Now that I am gone, I want you to know that I worked everyday to make myself as happy as I could be.  I pursued my interests.  I was curious.  I read about things.  I turned some of my natural inclinations into my livelihood and it wasn’t the worst job I could have had.  That’s something.

I want you to know that I’m proud of my family.  I’m proud of the family I came from and I’m proud of the family I have created.  I know that I contributed something simply by being there and maybe that’s the greatest contribution anyone can make — to be there.

I wish I’d had the courage to take a few more risks.  Wish I could have loved myself enough to “toot my own horn” a little bit more.  Wish I could have been brave enough to stand up to certain people who seemed clueless or strangely so selfish that they could hardly see anyone around them.  Those nights when I lay in bed worrying about how things were going to turn out, I wish I could have just trusted myself more.  Wish I could have trusted the universe more.

All in all, I’d say I was good person.  I always took a moment, if I had a moment, to check in with myself to see what my instincts were telling me about what was the right thing to say or do.  When I didn’t have a moment, I went with my gut.  Most of the time, my gut was right.  I knew always to think of the other person and to act with empathy.  I’m not sure how I knew that.

So, I guess I’m gone now.  My time on Earth is over.  I feel so lucky that I got to be here — even though it seems it could never be for too long.  I wish I could see the way the world is going to change and evolve.  I wish I could see more of what is to come — but that won’t be of my time.  I’ve gotten to live for my own unique span of history and that will have to be enough.  I’m thankful that I was also blessed with such pragmatism.

At the risk of being obvious, all of you know that I loved you.  I guess I didn’t say it very often — but you know I did.

I’ll miss you.

All my love,

________________  [print name]

________________  [signature]

  1. Dear Everybody hear paula read: Dear Everybody 2:19

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photo by Paulla Elmore

Tides of people spoke on November 8th.  A groundswell of angry, ignored human beings let their voices be heard that day.  In reaction, another wave of people answered back.  We can’t help but hear everyone now.  Such turbulence.  One wave after another.

The Women’s March was the happiest I’ve felt since the election.  Yet I found myself, in the middle of it, blaming myself — my own complacency, my own inaction.  I was asleep, naive.  I should have done more before the election.  Still, I wonder if it would have done any good.  Maybe we all needed to hear the alarm in our own voices.

It seems that what’s happening now is a symptom — an outer manifestation of some larger human concern.  It’s very noisy and crowded and confusing.  We’re all speaking at once.   Any of our voices can be heard globally now— but it’s so hard to listen, to hear the truth, in all of this chaos.

I feel compelled to say something too, though I hardly know what.  I have groped for these few words.  I’m awake now.  I’ll engage in this conversation with all of the courage I can muster.  I won’t go back to sleep.

photo by Paulla Elmore

the sun streamed in like a white blanket of light
and you said — “how do we possibly do all the stuff we do
when we end up feeling so worn and torn?”

and the particles of dust floated in the air
like slow-moving meteors and tiny feathers suspended
but still moving
and I watched your breath propel them as you said
“it feels like the summer is over even though it’s just beginning.”

and we pondered how many dinosaur wings we’ve flown upon
not like magical dragons — but like the muck of oil that
they’ve turned into
and about how selfish we are — always wanting more.

none of it added up to much
no conclusion
no — ah-ha — no grand truth.
just the sun streaming in and then a simple question,
“what do you want to do now?”

  1. Dinosaur Wings hear paula read: Dinosaur Wings 1:00

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pillar-portrait-2016I’m not one to talk if I don’t have anything to say. I’ve been writing, over the past few years, but not publishing as much. There are times for talking and there are times for listening. I guess I’ve been in a phase of the latter.

About four years ago, in 2012, I recognized that it had been a hundred years since the sinking of the Titanic. It occurred to me, then, that it would be interesting to try to write a song from the perspective of one of the musicians who played on that voyage. They were famously heard playing, from the lifeboats, even as the ship was sinking.

Truth is, the song I have written is not really about the musicians on the deck of the Titanic. It’s about my own feeling that my personal “musical ship” has been going down, for some time now. I know I’m not alone in expressing that a music career is a hard thing to sustain.

titanic-musiciansAs I “imagined” being one of those fateful musicians who played as the ship was sinking, I learned that, for myself, the central question became; “Who am I playing this for?” And I knew, in no uncertain terms, that fundamentally those players must have been playing for themselves.

 

It struck me that that is the most important reason to continue to make music.

 

“Paula McMath’s “Trust The Sky” is a self-affirming, moving tribute to one’s own journey through life. The melody takes just enough twists to keep it fresh when we least expect it. Produced lucidly to reveal the storyline, that makes it even more personal to the listener. “

paula mcmath named in Music Connection’s  –  15th Annual Hot 100 Unsigned Artists,  Volume XXX,  No.  25  12/04/06 to 12/31/06

“McMath and her able backup musicians take the singer-songwriter format into the rock realm on a collection of tunes that showcase a strong,  expressive voice.  She comes out struttin’ on “lonely blue”,  a very good choice to open this disc.  “Wet” marries a rocking track to bitter lyrics.  “Consumed” is a bluesy ballad with vivid imagery and vocals tones that imbue the song with emotions.  McMath is working at a high level and warrants industry attention.”

Music Connection Review /  Volume XXX,  No.  12  06/05/06 to 06/18/06

“You’re very good at what you do, but sometimes it takes a while for the world to figure it out.  As Woody Allen famously stated, a big part of success is showing up, and with that I heartily concur.  In our culture now people are used to things happening very quickly.  TV shows like American Idol perpetuate the myth an entertainer can become famous overnight. The reality is, it takes a lifetime for an artist to gestate.

The wife and I have practically worn your current CD out!”

Ric Menck, member of Velvet Crush (drummer;  Matthew Sweet, Liz Phair, Marianne Faithful)shapeimage_6.jpg

“Shows tremendous talent.  Thank you for sharing it with me.  Reminiscent of Joni… and there couldn’t be a better compliment.  Very impressive.  Keep going Paula.  I’m looking forward to where you’re headed!”

John Pozer,  Filmmaker/Director,  Cannes Film Festival award-winner  / “The Grocer’s Wife”

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“I feel really strongly about this music.  I think Paula’s voice, the lyrics,  and the melodies are amazing.”

Producer John Hanlon, who has engineered and produced with Neil Youngshapeimage_6.jpg

“I love this CD!  There’s a surprising elegance to its blend of edge, sensuality, intimacy, and bluesy rock. The more I listen, the more I appreciate it  –  especially paula mcmath’s honest, expressive voice.  Because We Bleed is a worthy, sometimes edgy, sometimes quietly poetic, stream of paula mcmath’s relationship reflections… with a little grit on the mirror.  It’s great.”

Susan Haight,  singer-songwriter