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4/30 The Old Firehouse in Edom, TX
Edom, TX
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  • The astronaut and the mermaid

    If you’ve been following along, you know that I’m working on a children’s album with my friend Lyndy Butler. You can click back to my previous post to learn more. When Lyndy and I started trying to get organized after we had written several songs, Lyndy sent me a google docs file where we could […]

  • The Buddy System

    When I was expecting my oldest, many people asked me if I was going to switch over and do lullaby albums from then on. Other people told me I would soon be writing nothing but songs about my baby. I knew that people were just happy for me, and that some of their comments were […]

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I am available for shows and events. If you are interested in booking me, you can contact my agent through email or phone:

Joe Anderson
(801) 369-7725
joe@andersound.com

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If you’ve been following along, you know that I’m working on a children’s album with my friend Lyndy Butler. You can click back to my previous post to learn more.

When Lyndy and I started trying to get organized after we had written several songs, Lyndy sent me a google docs file where we could add and edit all our lyrics. She gave it the title, “The Buddy System: An Astronaut Mermaid Collaboration”. We didn’t have any songs about astronauts or mermaids at that point. But I absolutely loved the image I immediately had in my mind of one friend way up in space and the other deep in the ocean, and that they are friends who have a lot to offer each other. I sent Lyndy kind of a joking note to ask her which one of us was the astronaut and which was the mermaid. She said both of us are both. I thought about it and knew it was true. Sometimes she has amazing ideas that seem to be pulled straight from the universe. Then you see her waist-length luxurious magenta hair and know she has to be the mermaid. I go back and forth on a lot of days with this project, to having my head above the clouds with creativity, and other times deep in an ocean of work; fun work, swimming through the rhymes and melodies. I think my mind started trying to write a song about astronauts and mermaids from the moment I saw that juxtaposition on that google doc. But I didn’t ever sit down to work on it.

When we thought about what to do for an album cover, we both thought an illustration would be fun for a children’s album. The first person who came to my mind to create it for us was my dear friend, Heather Solomon. I met her many years ago. I can’t believe it, I think it’s been about 20 years since we first met. We were roommates at The Regency apartments south of BYU campus. I remember when she showed up. She seemed very quiet. I boisterously introduced myself and said I was excited for us to become friends! She later told me that at that moment she was worried she might have gotten stuck with the most obnoxious roommate in the world. She immediately went to her room and started cutting up a stack of brown grocery bags. I peeked in from time to time and realized she had arranged all of these cut out scraps to look like a gigantic, beautiful tree that covered her entire wall! We were different. I listened to Garth Brooks, Erasure, The Indigo Girls, and Chicago. She listened to Suzanne Vega, The Toasters, The Cure, and Bauhaus. As the months went by, we actually did become very good friends. Heather was studying molecular biology. Well, I say study, but I don’t think she ever even had to study, and she just got A’s in all of her ridiculously complicated classes, while I was barely passing my core Physical Science class, and taking Spanish and English and Songwriting. I eventually discovered I really liked The Cure and Suzanne Vega. I don’t think Heather ever decided she liked Chicago or Garth Brooks. Heather was from New Jersey. I was from Arizona. In so many ways, we were from different worlds. Astronauts and mermaids. All six of us girls in that apartment went through a lot that year together. I could write a novel about each wonderful person. We became lifelong friends.

Heather and I became roommates again a couple of years later when we lived in the illustrious Sparks 2 apartments. I’m not sure if there was ever a Sparks 1. Rumor had it that it burned down a long time ago. I guess our apartment was kind of the revenge of Sparks? I digress. While Heather and I were roommates there, she decided, at almost the end of her college career, to just throw on another major, and study illustration design. Our apartment was always full of loud, fun music, and paints and creativity. At that time I was writing a lot of songs, too. I loved the energy.

Heather went on to illustrate some wonderful children’s books. Clever Beatrice. The Secret Keeper. If I Were a Lion. And more. It’s been so fun to read these colorful books to my kids.

All these years later, I’m excited that Heather could help us with a painting for this album. I think it is just perfect. And seeing the astronaut and the mermaid in a painting finally made a song happen about it. Lyndy and I now have a song called, “The Astronaut and the Mermaid”. I’ve attached the voice memo I sent to Lyndy of the finished version. You can click here to listen: By finished, I mean the songwriting. This voice memo is rough. Lyndy and I hope to record it in a real studio together in June if our Kickstarter campaign reaches the goal. We have till May 12th to raise the funds. We’d be so grateful if you could help make it happen!

Here’s the link to that. The Buddy System Kickstarter

I have many layers of love for the idea of an astronaut and a mermaid being friends. Sometimes my kids can’t get along when they don’t all want to be either princesses or robots. They’re so much happier when everyone can be who they want to be in the game. Just like this, in real life, when we see someone who seems like they don’t belong in our world, I wonder what would happen if we decided to give them a chance. How many amazing friendships do we miss out on when we don’t? How many things could we learn about the world and ourselves if we did try to understand people who seem different from us? How many ways would we realize that we are actually more alike than we imagined?

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When I was expecting my oldest, many people asked me if I was going to switch over and do lullaby albums from then on. Other people told me I would soon be writing nothing but songs about my baby. I knew that people were just happy for me, and that some of their comments were an extension of that expression that follows every songwriter; whenever you say or do anything, someone says with a wink, “Hey, that sounds like a song!” But I always had to hide how these new remarks made me bristle. I was a little insulted. Did people think I would cease to be a normal human with a brain, and that it would melt somehow to the point that I could only write “tra la la’s” or record half a dozen covers of Ring Around the Rosey?

Well, then my kids came. I learned a few things. Number one, I learned that indeed, I couldn’t help but write songs about them. I still wrote other songs, but sprinkled all over them were songs like “Already a Butterfly” or “Invincible” or “Walk You Through The Night” or “Sweet, Sweet Dreams”. On some very long, sleep deprived days, my brain did feel a little mushy, but normally, if I was really paying attention, my kids really inspired me and made me a better writer because of the pieces of my heart that they opened. Next, I learned that there is a whole lot of horrible music written and recorded for kids. A lot. There really are countless covers of the most mind numbing nursery rhymes, recorded with shrill sounding robo-children. People give you these CD’s when you have a kid. I usually found that my kids, when faced with the choice, would normally rather listen to grown up pop songs instead, thank goodness. But I also learned that there actually is some great children’s music. My mother-in-law gave us a Sandra Boynton CD called “Blue Moo” that we all love. We’re also fans of They Might Be Giant’s “No!” There are a lot of classic Disney songs that have come back into my life since having kids. You have to admit that The Little Mermaid soundtrack is catchy. And all those songs from Mary Poppins! And don’t even get me started on the music from Phineas and Ferb. I love it so much. As I listened to these songs as a songwriter, and watched how my kids reacted to them, I came to see that kids are really smart. They know when you’re singing down to them or assuming they aren’t as smart as you are. Usually lullaby albums don’t have this problem, but a lot of “fun” kid’s albums do. I filed away all this info into my songwriting research brain and then went on with life.

About a year ago, my friend Ryan Tilby told me about a singer-songwriter down in his musical neighborhood in St. George, named Lyndy Butler. He thought we might enjoy collaborating on songwriting for a project for her. I have a lot on my plate with four kids, a husband who travels a lot for work, and a fairly demanding music career. I didn’t think I would have time to get involved in a project for another artist at that time. But I looked her up, and when I heard her music, she seemed like a kindred spirit of sorts. I contacted her and asked if she wanted to do some co-writing. She immediately sent me a song she was working on, about a little red wagon. A children’s song. Again, something I normally didn’t jump at the chance to do, but it was a really cute song, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. So we started working on it from afar. Emailing lyrics, recording voice memos with melody scraps. It was a lot of fun. After a few weeks I had the distinct feeling that Lyndy was going to ask me to do a children’s album with her. It was like a voice outside of myself telling me this. Maybe a voice that knew that my knee jerk reaction would have been to say that I didn’t have time. But when the thought took root in my heart, it seemed right. I figured I was probably insane, and I set those thoughts aside. But then I got an email from her, asking me if I wanted to do a whole album of children’s music with her. The angels in my mind kind of sang, and after talking it over with my husband, it felt really right to say yes. Am I now only a kid’s artist? No, and neither is Lyndy. This is a special project, one of those projects that kind of finds you when you have an open heart.

For the past year, Lyndy and I have been writing songs for this project, and I really love them. My kids love them, too. And they don’t love everything I do, so I know they’re being honest. Playing a song for your kid is almost the polar opposite of playing a song for your mom in that way. I think if we get the chance to record these songs, this album will really be a treasure, with songs that people pass down. It has that kind of feeling to me. We’re hoping to record down in St. George this June with our friend Ryan Tilby, who originally got us together. We’ve been planning out the artwork for the CD jacket, too. My dear friend, Heather Solomon, who is a real, honest to goodness children’s book illustrator has been working on a beautiful painting for us. Everything looks, sounds, and feels so right. The only thing left for us to do is find the money to pay for recording, mixing, mastering, and printing. Lyndy and I are both indie artists, so for us, the best option was to launch a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. We’ve had it going for a little less than a week and we’re about a third of the way to our goal. If we don’t reach our goal, we won’t be able to do the project. I’ve been praying a lot, cheerleading a lot, and hoping a lot that we can make it happen before our fundraising time is up in mid May. If you’re here visiting my website, maybe you’re a fan. Maybe you have kids or know people who do, who might love this album when we get it done. It’s going to be called, “The Buddy System”. You can click on this link to see the rewards we are offering for your pledge, and you can watch a video where you can get to know Lyndy a little, and you can see us singing snippets of four of our songs. We also keep posting rough clips of the other songs on our Facebook pages. Follow along, and help if you can. You’d be my hero if you do.

I’m excited to keep you posted on things. The cover art is almost done, and there’s a really fun story behind it. That will be my next blog post. Stay tuned!