Part 1: Happiness is the Best Revenge
Welcome! You are now at Alchemie’s Back Door, your portal into what goes on, and what has gone on, in Nancy and Bob’s lives both in and out of the “Music Biz.” Music can be: (1) a fun hobby (2) a way to get smarter (3) a business (4) a profession (5) something to enjoy socially, dancing or singing (6) a lifetime commitment to self-expression through the magical arts—and some or all of those at once.
In Part 1: “dark” Secrets, we will take you through the “dark” album song by song, providing lyrics and information about what went into these songs when they were written, as well as insights into the process of bringing them to glorious fruition as they exist now. They are poetry set to music, or if you prefer, music set to poetry.
For the record, Bob Danielson has never had depression.
Nancy has had depression over a LONG period of her life, starting at age 13. She is a creative person and artist who has struggled with depression, or a depressed person who still made art, however you choose to look at it. Depression colored her life for a long time; “dark” is a journal of the impressions, perceptions, and feelings of a person who was affected by depression at various times in her life, for most of her life and to differing degrees. Hence, the album title “dark.” The fact that she created art during times of severe depression illustrates her compelling need to be creative.
Music can be experienced as visceral, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual; poetry has those same experiential qualities except that poetry is WORDS and probably more accessible to the thinking mind’s interpretation. Further, given that every person experiences life in an individual way, the meaning of all music and words is unique to the experiencer. Music is particularly hard to “explain,” especially when it lacks words, but can certainly be felt and interpreted by individuals.
Nancy’s goal as an artist has always been to express feelings, thoughts, spirituality, and visceral impact to, first, herself, in documenting her experience, and second, to you, the listener, in conveying as much of that experience as possible to you, in its multi-sense expression. She believes and hopes her work conveys accurately and intuitively what her own experience is. She has studied writing and music in depth throughout her life and learned from the Great Masters, as well as the Rank Amateurs, how to create and convey more and more skillful and well-crafted music and writing.
Poetry combined with music, in Nancy’s original works, is specifically intended to meld music and poetry into a cohesive experience; her beautifully made, exquisite songs are inspired by a wide range of artists in music, poetry, sculpture, and the visual arts. She believes beauty is the spiritual quality most found in nature, in all its creative and destructive forces.
Nancy has written poetry, stories, journals and diaries since kindergarten. The writings were a private conversation with a friend - i.e., the written word and the journal - and a time to be alone and introspective. (She won a poetry contest in 1967 and we will discuss that poem in a further article as being a likely expression of her emerging feelings of hopelessness and sadness.)
A well known Albuquerque journalist, Mel Minter, reviewed the “dark” album for an article in May 2017 (in ABQ the Magazine) and asked Nancy, “Should I be worried about you?” It’s an apt response to listening closely to “dark.” Yes, people should have been worried about Nancy when she was young; however, it was a different time and she remained silent about her emerging sad and hopeless feelings simply because she thought everyone felt the same as she did. She was a tomboy—tough, resilient, and stoic—traits that served her well in a happy childhood but did not work in a troubled adolescence and later severe depression.
Happily, today’s answer to Mel’s question is that Nancy has survived suicidal depression twice as well as low-grade low mood much of her life, and moved through it, to the present, where she no longer is depressed. It’s been a rough road. She would characterize it as “survival” but we cannot change the past, and in her case, it is far better to have learned from the experience than to repeat it or live in past thoughts. In fact, happiness is the best revenge! Next installment, on to the songs of “dark.”