Uta Hagen--

"We must overcome the notion that we must be regular...it robs you of the chance to be extraordinary and leads you to the mediocre."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ryan Simpson ~ Free of Shackles

So, I know that I kind of suck at keeping a blog, but I'll make up for it today.  Previously on this blog, I've mentioned the Scotty Bratcher Band.  Also, I have previously reviewed books on this blog.  Today I'm going to try something new: I'm going to review an album.  

Ryan Simpson is the drummer for the Scotty Bratcher Band, but (as I recently discovered) he
has his own album of songs he's written and preformed.  I purchased his album, FREE OF SHACKLES, this past Friday and listened to it in its entirety (a few times) on Saturday.  The music really struck me for a couple reasons.  1) The sound is a lot different than anything I had ever heard him play with the SBB. 2) The lyrics were really meaningful and deep. 3) He had recorded everything by himself, every instrument and all of the vocals on every track.  

I decided to review the album for a couple reasons, as well.  Obviously, Ryan's a super nice guy, but the main reason, I think, is to help spread the word about his solo music career.  Having been a fan of the SBB for well over a year, I couldn't believe that I didn't know he had his own album.  Because I'm a literary analysis freak, I'm going to go song by song and give my thoughts, so if you don't want to know my interpretations in order to better form your own, you don't have to read anything but the over-all impressions.  Also, you can listen and read the lyrics to all of the songs HERE.  

Side note: The opinions expressed here are just that - opinions.  They are my own take on the songs and music of Ryan Simpson's original songs from his album, Free of Shackles.

Over-All Impression of Album: As a writer myself, I really appreciated the fact that Ryan Simpson is unafraid to write what he truly feels.  It's not easy to put yourself out there in any respect, but to put your thoughts and feelings out there, it's a scary thing, but very admirable.  It's a very emotional album and the feelings of the songs definitely come through.  It's raw and somewhat heart-breaking in a way that can only be explained by listening to the songs.  He's a very talented person - as a drummer, definitely, but also as a writer/singer/guitarist/all-of-the-other-instruments-he-plays-on-the-album. The music is harder and darker than what I normally listen to, but I honestly enjoyed it.  If you had to compare him to someone (and that's a very hard thing to do), the closest I could get would be Nine Inch Nails.  But overall, BEST $10 I've spent in a long time! 

"When You Fall" is somewhat a revengeful song (I'm not sure that's the right word, but I can't think of the right one).  We all know the type of person that is described in this song, the person who gets really far in life but probably not by the right path.  We can't be happy for this person, maybe they betrayed us in the process of gaining their success.  This person is seemingly perfect and thinks him or herself to be invincible.  This song is about the inevitable fall of a person who believes him or herself to be above others.

"Jealous Hands"  in my opinion, is about a relationship that ended for one person before it did for the other.  It clearly shows the hurt of unrequited love and almost gives the feeling of being used by this other person.  But what I like most about this song, I think, is that it comes full circle and isn't just about grieving over a broken heart; we all have to get over heartbreak and this song shows that you have to kick people out of your life that have hurt you - even if they're already gone.  And I think that's something we can all relate to.  You can't give someone the satisfaction of ruining your life every day after they've already hurt you once.  You have to get back up and say, "I'm stronger than this.  You hurt me, but I'm going to find something/someone better."

"You Think You Know (But I Promise You Don't)" voiced doubts in religion, which we all have probably had at some point in our lives.  No one really knows the answers to the most important questions in life, especially when it comes to religion and what is "right" and what is "wrong."  To me, this song conveyed the struggle to put your faith in the unknown.  

"Apostasy" (defined as: a total desertion of or a departure from one's religion, principles, party, cause, etc.) Knowing the definition, and realizing Ryan has a very large vocabulary because I had to look up words, you could probably guess what this song is about.  First, I would like to say that it's an interesting song in terms of sound - I think there might be xylophones?  And that's always a plus.  There's an obvious lack of trust in this song stemming from needing someone, presumably God, who wasn't there.  I felt like the lyrics conveyed a sense of not being heard and feeling abandoned.  There was a feeling of disappointment and of self blame for letting yourself believe.  Definitely a song about seeking the truth.  This song is one of the best examples of Ryan Simpson not being afraid to put his true feelings out there.

"Cleaner" is a song about corrupt government and society.  The people who are in power will never stay in that position, and when we're gone, we are left to clean up their mess.  We have to fix other people's mistakes.  The song shows the government taking the power away from the people, but also the need for the people to retaliate and take the power back from the government.  A very relevant song to today's world.

"New Low" similar to "Jealous Hands," I felt this song was about an abrupt end to a relationship that one of the two people (the speaker) doesn't want to end.  I felt that the speaker in this song felt betrayed by his lover who felt as though there was nothing left in the relationship and thus leaves him with nothing - not even a goodbye, really.  He doesn't want to let go of the relationship and isn't able to because of the physical, unjustified and unrequited need for this person. 

"Viet Song" as a history buff, this song jumped out at me when I was reading through the song titles because of it's obvious relation to the Vietcong from the Vietnam War.  This song has a beautiful instrumental intro.  It's about unrequited love and growing up without realizing it.  Often enough, people act like everything's okay, even when it's not.  When conflicts are over, people tend to pretend they never happened and push them out of mind.  I related to this song because of the feeling of confusion and not being sure of what to do with your life.  But I love that this song gives the hope that one day everything will be okay; that one day, your life will be what it needs to be, you just have to push through until it gets there.  Maybe my favorite song on the album.  It's a little bit confusing, but when I asked Ryan about it, he told me he didn't want to tell me because he was afraid it'd ruin it for me.  But that's okay, I like the song anyway.

"Savior Poison" is by far the deepest song on the album, in my humble opinion.  It's a very satirical song about society and freedom.  We are free to do as we're told, but are not supposed to question things as they are, just accept them.  People do not think for themselves, but is that really freedom?  There's a line about the rules being made in the sky, which, to me, references that this country was founded on a Christian platform and the controversial topic of whether or not that's the correct way to do things.  The song definitely shows the absurdity of not being yourself but conforming to what society expects of you.  To me, the song had a gospel/rock sound to it, which added to the satire all the more.  No matter what your beliefs are, I urge you to listen to this song.

"The Sports Racers Vs. The Hard Chargers" is an all instrumental song.  I'm not going to lie, it brought out the air instrumentalist in me.  It's a very energetic and all-around fun song to listen to.  Would make a great song to pump you up in the morning or while you're exercising (if you're into that sort of thing).  

"Burning Skin" is also an all instrumental song.  It's a more peaceful song than "TSR Vs. THC."  It's a very beautiful song.  I'd be interested in finding out where the title came from.  There's a line about "Burning skin become my face" the last song on the album...Any connection?

"Free of Shackles" is probably tied with "Viet Song" for my favorite track.  It, to me, showed how an ending can be a new beginning.  It makes you search for a purpose and emphasizes that you can't let the bad overtake you.  Even though you might not be sure of the future, that's okay.  It's okay to wander around and try to find your path in life.  There's nothing holding you down anymore now that you're finally free.  I think that's what we all have wanted all along.  So endings are okay, as long as you move on and learn from them.  It's okay to be afraid, because you know that as you continue to move on, you're closer to the good than you are to the bad.  I think this song was the perfect song to end the album that is so full of hurt and uncertainty.  

So there you have it.  I would seriously urge you to purchase this album and show some support to Mr. Ryan Simpson.  If you don't feel like tracking him down at a SBB show, you're in luck!  You can also purchase a digital version of his album online where you can listen to the songs and read the lyrics!  All you have to do is click HERE!  And like I said, it's only $10! 

I'm definitely looking forward to the next album and cannot wait to see what the future holds for this very talented musician!  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Being Lost

So, in April of last year I told myself I was either going to blog or vlog every Tuesday, because I really hate Tuesdays and needed something to look forward to on those days.  Well, seeing as how my last post on this blog was in January. . . I think we can officially say that I fail as a blogger.

But that's okay.  I don't think anyone really noticed my absence. 

But I do have some updates since we last talked. 

  • I now have a boyfriend (we've been together for 4 months!) and I'm really happy.
  • Scotty Bratcher did end up in the top 100 of the Play Crossroads competition, but, sadly did not win the competition. 
  • I finished my junior year of high school.
Okay, so in my mind, I felt like there were a lot more monumental things that I needed to tell you.  I mean, more stuff has happened in the months since I've posted, but nothing that anyone really cares to know about, haha.  

But I really do have a point to my post today, or at least, I think I do.  

I want to talk about direction.  And, more specifically, as it pertains to life. 

My birthday is Friday and I will be 17.  For some reason, 17 seems a lot older than 16, maybe because it seems so much closer to 18.  This summer is my last real summer vacation before college.  And that scares me.  Because I don't know what I want to do with my life.

I think that a lot of people my age are at this point right now.  But the difference between me and them is that they have a plan to some degree and at least think they know what they want.  Me? I have no idea.  

I always thought education would be what I went to school for and what I did until I reached a point where I could write for a living (assuming I ever get that far).  But there are so many changes being made to the education system right now, that I'm not sure I want to be part of that.  I want to touch lives and to make a difference to people, but maybe teaching isn't the way to do that anymore. 

In my psychology class, we learned that even at the age of 16, our brains are not fully developed.  This means that we haven't fully reached who we are going to be yet.  And yet, at the age of 17 or 18, we have to decide pretty much what we want to do for the rest of our lives and what we out of life.

And personally?  I don't feel ready to make that decision.  I mean, of course there are dreams that I have - of being an author, or a photographer, or wife of Robert Pattinson - but the realistic part of my brain pushes those dreams aside and tells me to think logically and responsibly.  Because some dreams are more likely to fail than others.  And some dreams won't support you, financially.  

I really hate to bring money into this because I don't like it when people choose a profession based on the money they'll make instead of whether or not they enjoy the job.  But the reality is that you have to be able to make money.  You have to support yourself in order to keep doing the job you're doing, or else it's pointless.  And if you have a family, you have to be able to support them, too.  

But I want to do something I enjoy, something that matters.  But I don't fully know what that is.  

Basically, what I'm saying is this: 

And that I'm lost.  I'm really lost.  But I don't even know what I'm looking for.  

Maybe, I'm just supposed to be trying to find myself again. 

Follow me on Twitter @HannaLedford
Follow me on Tumblr at http://myseparatereality.tumblr.com/ 
(even though I don't really do anything on it)

Monday, January 28, 2013


I want to talk about dreams today. 

Not your dreams that Freud would tell you mean you like your mom or whatever - those are your own business.

I don't even want to talk about my dreams today, folks!

My original photo 
I want to talk about the dreams of this guitar player whose picture is shown above (^).  First I would just like to say that you should most definitely click that widget up there and go add your name to the list of supporters on the right hand side of the page.  It's free and all you have to enter is your name and email address.  You don't even have to put your full name.  If you don't know about the Scotty Bratcher Band, you should listen to the four tracks listed.  Two of them are brand new and the album they'll be on hasn't even been released yet - the other two are from his previous album.  But if those four tracks don't convince you that the Scotty Bratcher Band deserves to win this thing...You should go have your ears checked.  If you decide to become a fan (which is advisable...be a hipster, like them before they're BIG!), you can share the link with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.  The more times you do these things, the more times Scotty's Buzz Rating goes up and the more chances he has of being in the top 100 (right now he's at about the 110 mark, as I'm writing this) bands selected by review by judges, who will then pick one group to play at Madison Square Garden with Eric Clapton!  So go check it out! 

Now, this relates to dreams of writers, and just people in general.  Or I'm going to make it relate.  You know, I think that when we are young we have these huge dreams of becoming famous or being an astronaut or winning the presidency.  We set our sights on such big feats and don't care that the likelihood of us accomplishing them is very slim.  Most of us outgrow these dreams, realizing that they might not be so realistic.  But the people that don't let go of their dreams?  They see how hard it's going to be to get there.  They realize the amount of work it's going to take.  They realize they're probably not going to just have it handed to them on a silver platter along with the keys to a Ferrari and a mansion.  But mostly they realize that they want it - and that the work that it requires, the strength and determination it requires, is worth it.  And these people?  These are the people that make it.

You know, I've read plenty of books and heard plenty of bands that don't get the recognition they deserve.  I've known authors who write beautiful pieces and novels and they get swept under the rug by the cliche love/horror/insert-genre-here stories that our society is comfortable with.  I've heard songs written by artists (locally and globally) who are not supported enough to make it to radio, mega-tours, and the likes because they do not fit the mold of the pop-culture, boy-band, break-up songs that we, as a society, have adopted as our 'standards,' so to speak.  And that saddens me because there are people out there that are so much more talented than Nicki Minaj or Justin Beiber.  There are better writers out there than Nicolas Sparks.  I mean, I respect each artist because it does take a LOT of courage to put yourself out there for the world, but I think we also need to appreciate the artists that are around us.  Because the artists that are not recognized, well-known, or over-played on the radio - those are the artists we should be supporting.  Because they're REAL.  And more often than not, their music/writing/paintings/etc portray a more relatable side to life than the celebrity-crazed-life-style you'll hear on the radio.

I think there are people you stumble across in the course of your life that inspire you.  I'd like to say that it'd be great to find them all at once so that you'd never lose faith in yourself or your dreams, but part of me says that's not true.  I think that each person you find that inspires you is planted at a very specific point in your life and it's not until you lose faith in yourself, and water that seed with your tears of helplessness that that person arises to show you what you can do.  Whether they've been there your whole life or if you meet them for the first time right when you needed someone else to give you a push, these people are placed throughout our lives to keep us going.  I have been so blessed to have these types of people in my life - and I know that if I had met all of them at once, I wouldn't be where I am.  I have evolved so much since I first started writing.  And if I had met some of them at the beginning of my writing journey, I don't think I would have seen what I was supposed to see as inspiration in them.  Whether they know it or not, I draw strength and drive from them all the time, even ones no longer in my life.  Because they once inspired me, they always will.  It's funny that I depend on these people so much - we, more often than not, depend on the most unstable things in life: relationships, people, feelings, and love.  But without people like this in my life, I know that I would have given up on my dreams long ago.  And it is because of these people that I know this will never happen.  

I don't really know that this post has come full circle, necessarily  but I'm hoping it at least made sense.  I think it will to some of you.  But my main point is we could do something amazing here: we could help an amazing group of guys reach their dreams.  And that?  That's a something that's not guaranteed to everyone.  So please go give the tracks a listen and if you like them, add your name to the supporters list, share the site on Facebook and on Twitter - or wherever you so please!  

Scotty didn't pay me to do this or anything, I should mention that.  He and his music have done so much for me and my family, I felt like it was the very least I could do.  I am not at all kidding when I tell you that there is no one on the face of this earth that deserves this recognition more than the Scotty Bratcher Band.  

So with that, I'll step off of my platform and you can do what you want with this information - those few of you who actually read these things. : ) Hiiiii people.  You're my friends. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Non, je ne regrette rien

Je ne vais pas ecrire en francais. (I'm not going to write in French - minus some accents.)

Mais - I mean, but, I do have some important stuff to say.  I feel like I've already reflected on HOW I came to writing in January of 2008, but I can't find that post, so remind me some other time and I'll write a more detailed and insightful recounting of why I started writing, other than I wanted to.


Yesterday - January 14th - was my 5th anniversary of the day I started writing.  5 years!  That is kind of weird to think about.

In some ways, it is hard for me to remember a time when I didn't enjoy writing, when reading was something I was required to do, not something I loved to do.  But 5 years...it just makes me wonder how quickly time can go and honestly, it scares me.  I feel like the first 3 of those 3 years passed somewhat slowly, but when I got to high school the last few have really sped things up.

I look back upon little (okay, I'm still the same height I was then) 11 year old me and wonder how she could have thought that writing would be "easy."  I look back and envy the innocence she had in her thoughts and views on the world and the simplicity with which she could perceive things.  But despite this, I am grateful that she had the courage to sit down at her computer one night and start to type having no idea what she was going to write about, but just letting the story find her on its own.  If I were to attempt that now?  I have a feeling the document would not be opened a second time.  But that 11 year old me thought the same thing that night; that she would never come back to that word document.  Her curiosity which bred love brought her back.  

And it's exactly that that continues to bring me back.  No matter where I go in life, no matter how many times I get pulled away because of life, something always brings me back to writing.

I don't think that I could heal without writing.  And maybe heal isn't the right word - I don't think I could cope without writing.  When I'm angry or sad or heartbroken, the first thing I want to do (okay, after I stop crying) is write.  When I'm happy or giddy or content, the first thing I want to do is write.  Somehow all of my emotions find their way to the page, whether they are seen by others or not.  A verse here, a line of dialogue there...one day it'll all come together.

Through the 5 years of writing, I have learned a lot about my craft, my style, my beliefs, and myself.  I have gone through two computers (I only killed one of them....), a few different versions of Microsoft Word (oh, and Works...that was interesting).  I have improved, I have switched genres (a few times), I have broadened my spectrum of things I write in terms of form, and most of all, the love I hold for writing has only grown.

Sometimes in day-to-day life, hobbies get pushed aside, as writing often does.  But the important part is that you come back to it.

And I will always come back to it - until I no longer have to leave it.

Parce que, je ne regrette rien.

Because I regret nothing. 

I do not regret falling in love with something so difficult, because I know it's WORTH IT.  I do not regret sitting down at a computer in my spare time and creating a world (I have yet to write a story in a completely different 'world' ~ out of state is about as far-out as I breach) from my head and spending time with characters I have imagined that no one else may know about - yet - because, I know it's WORTH IT.  

And that?  That's what I come back to.

Happy 5 year anniversary to the 'novel' that started it all in me.  Forever on my shelf, you shall rest.  Until I have other people living with me.  Then you will be hidden away.  But I still love you.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

First Post of 2013 (I took New Year's Day off)

This post has nothing to do with Mr. Darcy, but Tuesdays suck and sometimes?  Sometimes you just need a Daily Dose of Darcy. (OMG that's alliteration!)

First post of 2013 - and it's actually on time!  (Don't become too used to that, it probably won't last long.)

I'm writing this post a little bit in advance, though, because I'm thinking I'm going to be busy on Tuesday.  Also, I am doing everything I can to procrastinate and not do the reading I was supposed to do over break.  I'm sure I'll get it done. . . eventually.  Before Monday.  Maybe.  It'd just be so much easier if Hawthorne would just spit out what he wanted to say.  

That could actually, somewhat, seg-way into my talking point today.  Which, believe it or not, is actually writing related for the first time in a long time.

Over this break, I've had a lot of inspiration to write.  From movies I've watched or books - actually, only one book - I've read, I've found myself really wanting to write.  But as soon as I pull up the word document, I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.  I know where the story is going, but the words are trapped inside my finger tips.  It's frustrating.

And it's not even just my big project.  It's poems, too.  I have so many little verses on sheets of paper that have no accompanying verses.  Things that pop into my head are written down and then when I re-visit them to make something out of some of them, I get stuck.

I don't like being stuck.

I really don't like not knowing how to get un-stuck.

I've talked to writers who'll write over 5k words a day.  Me?  I'm lucky if I write one sentence.  Most days?  Unfortunately, most days I don't get to write at all.  I try to utilize breaks from school to accomplish things, but with family time and homework and everything else that needs done, I feel like it's not getting anywhere.

And I'm not writing this to sound ungrateful.  I'm am so grateful that I love writing, that it is my dream and what I want.  And I am willing to work for it, don't get me wrong there, either.  

Maybe it's because I haven't found the right story yet, or maybe it's because I'm at the beginning of the story I'm trying to write.  The two most terrible parts of a story to write are the beginning and the ending.  It's either setting everything up or taking everything down, and making sure all ends tie together into a nice and pretty red bow.

And even though it's a first draft and I'm only like 13 pages into it?  I kind of get all panic-y and I don't know why.  

So writers - writers of any kind - do you struggle with this?  What do you do to break through writer's block?  And what keeps you motivated when writing?