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?