Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sing Tradition!

Exciting news! I've re-ignited my Patreon page ( and am filling it up with videos of traditional and old folk songs. Each episode gives a brief (very brief) background of the song, then I sing it. It's very short, I think most of them are about five minutes long, and there isn't a lot of fanfare involved. Hopefully as I get it rolling I'll get some kind of credits, and work out my awkwardness to be more comfortable talking about the songs. Also, I'm hoping to have some videos of the kids singing along, but I've got to learn splicing techniques first. Technology and I have kind of a rocky relationship, so this area of my life is a little tricky right now. In fact, our relationship status would be labeled as, "It's Complicated." But, I'm doing my best! 

It's making me so happy to be doing these videos. I've been wanting to do something like this for a very long time, but was having a difficult time thinking up ways to actually make it happen. I love sharing folk songs, I love being able to sing folk songs with other people. I worry that traditional music is being altogether lost, and I really feel an obligation to do something to try and keep these songs from fading away. On top of that, my ability to play shows is only getting lower as my girls get older, which is something I hadn't anticipated. Being gone at night (when most music gigs take place) is fine and a lot of fun every so often, but it's not something I can devote a ton of time to. These videos are a perfect fit for my life right now--I can sneak them in during the day when the girls are otherwise occupied, guilt-free. 

Not just guilt-free, though. This little project is filling a space that has been empty for a long time. When I first had kids it was hard for me to be so far away from my music. As the years went by it seemed like I would never have a chance to get back to it. Even making The Bathroom Project CD was a lot more difficult than I had expected, taking up a lot of family time, costing more than I'd anticipated, and carrying a lot more frustrations than I would have liked. When I finished that disc, I was so happy to just be done with it. And don't get me wrong, I LOVE playing music with my kids. I love singing with them, I love our dance parties, I love writing songs together. But I wanted to do something just one step up. I didn't want to ditch them to go play the bars every weekend, but I felt like I needed a little corner of my life to be getting my music OUT. And this is it! Even if nobody likes these videos, I feel happy to be getting these songs out into the world. 

A little bit about Patreon: The videos I'm making are posted publicly there, for all to see. If you sign up to become a patron, you will be supporting me directly as a musician. There is NO NEED for you to do that in order to see the Sing Tradition! episodes, however, there will be other kinds of posts (outtakes, possibly goofy singalongs with the family, non-video posts related to the project or other projects) that will be on the Patrons-Only feed. 

I think Patreon is an excellent platform for artists. I feel like it's a touch of the old world in the modern age: humans supporting humans directly because they believe in them as artists. I spent some time today browsing other artists on there and it's really neat to see the variety of people and art that is represented there, and the levels at which these artists are being supported. I'd encourage you, if there is an independent artist that you really admire and want to see succeed, to look them up on Patreon and support them if they have a page. 

The videos that are posted on Patreon are also on my YouTube channel. If you go to YouTube and search "annie hatke" you will find them. Either way, I hope you enjoy them! 

Also, Martin loves his new job! Yay!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

That Thing I Said About Everyone Being A Good Person

This week my husband finished working at a job he really, really loved. It's the only time he has ever been sad to leave a job, and he was very sad. He was working in mental health as a case worker and for the past year and a half and we tried to make it work, financially, because the good he was doing was worth our own struggle, but it came to the point where keeping his job was beginning to cost us money, and at that point it was time to let it go. He'll be working in town now, which is great, and doing similar work to what he was doing before, which is also great, but still, the move was not emotionally seamless.

While we were discussing this shift in jobs, I told him how I felt his two years there had really made him a better person. He had this same job ten years ago when we were newlyweds, and since then he's had different jobs and four children, and has worked with a large range of people, but something about this most recent time in this job really brought out the best in him. And I was thinking about that and I was thinking about the Transcendentalist movement (which I've been spending an awful lot of time thinking about lately, by the way) and I thought, "You know, I think all humans are really excellent people at their core. Some just need more chipping away than others to find that bright center."

Now, you might read that and think that my husband was a big jerk-face before this job, and that would NOT be true. He was a fine, nice person. But this job chipped away a little more of his roughness and really brought out the inner shine. And it made me consider that maybe we are all super shiny on the inside, if we could find something that could chip away our outer layers to let more of the shine spill out.

This has been on my mind for a few weeks as we go through this job transition, and then tonight the girls were reading bedtime stories and Greta read the Russian story of "The Snow Girl." In case you are unfamiliar, this story is the same tired tale of the two old people who love each other so very much and their only sadness is that they have no children, so then they somehow come to have a child that isn't quite.... well.... normal. Thumbelina. Tom Thumb. The Gingerbread Boy. Pinocchio (did he have a mother, or just Giupetto?) Anyway, in this case, the parents have this daughter made of snow, and they are so happy but they wish she could come inside and sit by the fire and eat the hot cabbage soup instead of her crushed ice in a wooden bowl that the mother fixes her for every meal. And the old lady cries a lot. And she's also not a very good listener, so even though the daughter tells her that she has to continue sleeping outside in the snow and keeping her distance from hot cabbage soup, the mother just can't take that, and on Christmas Eve brings her in (I'm sorry if I'm giving away this story, but let me assure you, it's an easy one to guess as you're reading it) and the girl melts away. (Duh.) But then, surprise! the snow girl has been turned into a REAL GIRL in the night and everyone is happy and the old lady cries some more.

Anyhow, the point of the story is that all the old man and woman wanted in the WHOLE WORLD was to be able to TAKE CARE OF SOMETHING. They didn't want a child as a status symbol, they didn't want a child so they could order her around. They didn't want a child just because they were tired of chopping wood and making cabbage soup every day and wanted someone else to do it for them. They wanted a child so they would have something to take care of, and their only unhappiness with the child made of snow was that they felt they weren't taking good enough care of her. And this comes back to the shiny goodness that is inside all of us.

I guess I believe that there are horrid people in the world. I do. But FOR THE MOST PART, I really think we all have an inner desire to love and care for something. Not necessarily for everyone (although, if you're looking for the recipe for world peace...)  just something. And I think this is why people have office plants, and this is why people have pets that they absolutely adore, this is why people fill up their houses with tumbling rugrats. It's easy to look at someone and think, "Okay, wow, she reeeeeaaaallly loves her house plants, what is up with that?" It's because THOSE PLANTS NEED HER. We are all searching for something whose survival depends on us. Cats, dogs, plants, children. And it isn't because we're narcissists who want to be worshipped, it's because we all have that shiny inside that's filled with love and we want to let it out in the form of caring for another creature. And those creatures, and other people and experiences that require some sacrifice and love, inevitably chip away at our hard outer shell and let a little more of our Goodness Rays out.

Doesn't that make happiness seem so attainable?!?!?

So there you go. The Secret of Life is love and shiny insides. Let's let our light spill out! Chip, chip!