Some Music I Love: Alela Diane’s album To Be Still

Sometimes I run across something so wonderful I have to pass it on.  I don’t really write real reviews very often, but love to share stuff that I’d want to know about myself along with some of the stuff i love about it… So i don’t wrote proper essays here or prove my outrageous claims (though i do that in other contexts sometimes!), but here is the loveliest fish i heard swimming by all day:

Alela Diane’s 2009 album To Be Still caught my attention while I had my good earphones on–what luck! I’d bought it years ago after hearing it somewhere, and I recall feeling utterly enchanted by this young woman’s strange, mysterious poetry inside her beautiful songs. There’s a link at the bottom so you can hear it, too.

From wikipedia, probably, I read enough about her to arrange this little story in my generally faulty memory: her dad’s a bluegrass musician, so she grew up doing music at his knee, and now he sings harnony when she records her music.

I see this album as evidence that we generally have a good bit of our mom or dad in us; as well as evidence that there is a god, who allows us to make ourselves completely ourselves; and possibly has a hand in helping us make ourselves different somehow from every single human being who has ever been born, before or after; as well as evidence that maybe, just maybe, this god is good…in spite of all of the scary, scary news…

Listening to To Be Still reminds me of Johnny Cash (possibly in part as her light to his shadow) with her mix of traditional form and sound with the sound of contemporary singer-song-writing, in a folk tradition, though what you walk away singing with is that thing that makes her writing (she is also a fine poet) and her music and album different from anything else you’ve ever heard, in the same way Johnny Cash made thst happen.

So check her out. There’s a youtube video i recall seeing: in it, she’s singing with her dad, recording this album, in an old falling-down church which is somehow flooded with bright sunlight. Of course it’s beautiful to see the two of them doing music together, and he is on her album as well, which is part of what makes To Be Still every bit as much her own thing as everything john cash ever made was his own thing.

I hope you can still find it and that my memory is mostly accurate.  Ok, hey! I found a link after a search for “alela diane dad church dry grass and shadows.” Try Dry grass and shadows by Alela Diane Video in bright old church.

So my daughter is taking chorus & she is so excited! Somehow she arranged to get my guitar in my lap so I could play “age old blue” for her to sing to–by Alela Diane.  And this morning, she made her first complete Manga comic strip with adorable Kawai’i characters and a complete story while we drew together (I made a terrifying and accurate portrait of her feral, fanged cat, now tamed, sleeping upside down, with all of her half-mustache shining in the winter sun).

And this was a dream-come-true day here at the Fish Clamor studio–drawing and doing music with my daughter in the same day? One of those “Best Days” for me, I say, accidentally thinking out loud

Really? she asks, across the room, half-listening, half-playing some music app on my old phone.

Yes, baby. Yes, really.

About Fish Clamor

Writer--poems, fiction, flash, essays, hybrid essays, sketch comedy on a great day, too. First prose chapbook, _How I Kiss Her Turning Head_, published by Monkey Puzzle Press, May 2014, is available from me--just email me--jen at This domain name. Follow me on twitter @fishclamor! Thank you so much for stopping by! --Jennifer Woodworth
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