Dear Holly: Little Drummer Girl

4 years, 4 months.

Dear Holly,

One of the many personal advantages I’ve had during 2020, the Year of Covid Culture, is that I have had more time than ever to focus on writing new songs.

While I was at the kitchen table practicing my newest song, “Ecclesiastes”, getting it ready to record for one of my YouTube channels, you decided to turn my practice into a jam session.

You found a big plastic bucket and two toy plastic forks and dragged them into the kitchen.

Surprisingly in sync with the rhythm of my song, you began planning the drums

I think you may be on to something there…

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: I Wrote a Song about You This Week- “That Boy’s Been Growing Up on Me”

9 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

This week has been unexpectedly emotional for me. You’ve been away on vacation in Florida with Nonna and Papa, as well as Aunt Dana and Uncle Andrew, and your cousins.

I didn’t expect to miss you so much. After all, you’re like 9 year and a half years old now. You’re not a little boy anymore.

And that’s exactly why it hit me so hard…

While I couldn’t possibly be prouder of the boy you’ve become, I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that those days of you being a little boy are gone.

For the past 4 days, I have been journaling my thoughts and feelings through a song I have been writing; so that I myself can better understand what I am going through right now.

Today, I was finally able to record the song; one of the few times I was able to do so without crying.

And when I say crying, I mean bawling.

It helped when your Aunt Dana told me today that you are currently taking a break from swimming in the ocean to watch WWE Wrestling.

You don’t treat your stuffed animals like they are real anymore, but you still believe WWE Wrestling is real. I can settle for that. You’re not fully grown up yet.

I love you, Jack.

That boy’s been growing up, that boy’s been growing up on me

He shouldn’t be enough, he shouldn’t be old enough

It doesn’t seem, it doesn’t seem

Those Hot Wheels have all raced away

Like the friends of Thomas the Train

And now I’m missing that boy who went with them

He’s growing up

Those stuffed animals all used to be real

But they’re starting to all disappear

And now my baby boy, first born bundle of joy, is growing up on me

That boy’s a part of me, that boy’s a part of me

My son is growing up

Holding on to memories, never letting go of these

My son is growing up

It takes so much for me to ever cry these days

So it’s funny how these words are drenched in tears

A father’s love for his only son is all it takes

To get me here

And now I’m here

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Taught Yourself the Motions to the Songs in Your Brother’s Play

2 years, 10 months.

Dear Holly,

You loved every single minute of your brother’s play last week. While Mommy and I were most excited about his speaking part, your favorite part was the music.

Since we arrived early enough to get 2nd row seats (1st row was reserved for teachers), we were able to spot your brother the whole time.

So after his speaking part, which occurred in first few minutes of the play, he went to join the rest of his classmates who served as the choir.

You quickly noticed that the students had motions to do for each line of the song.

I looked over at you to see that you were actually teaching yourself the motions to each song by watching Jack and his classmates. Actually, I had to remind myself that you had never heard of these songs before when I saw you doing it.

I am sure you would have joined your brother on stage if you would been allowed… then you could have taught the audience the song motions yourself!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Love to Perform Concerts, Singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”

2 years, 4 months.

Dear Holly,

For a solid three weeks now, you have been filling any quiet space with an eternal loop of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”. Because it happens to have the same exact melody as “The ABC Song”, you often interchange the lyrics.

Not to mention, you pronounce “twinkle” as twunkle.

You weren’t shy one bit when I decided to press record on my camera, so I could show Mommy your performance, once she got back from the grocery store.

Perhaps this is the beginning of your singing career…

Love,

Daddy

 

Behind the Music: My New Original Song about Emotional Intelligence, “Maybe It’s a Dream” by Nick Shell

It might be easy to forget at this point in my life, but when I moved to Nashville back on September 11th, 2005, it was because I wanted to build a career in music; as I have been singing, writing songs, and playing the guitar for over two decades.

However, my focus changed about a year and a half after I moved to Nashville, when I met my wife. Two kids and a decade later, the music thing has been on hiatus.

But this week, I decided to finally record a song I’ve been working on for four years.

It’s called “Maybe It’s a Dream”. The song is about the journey of emotionally intelligence; what it’s like living in the paradox of now understanding how it’s a conscious decision to realize that other people only affect my emotions if I give them permission; and that once I began taking control over that part of my life and I unplugged from that master of puppets system, it made me feel both more alive, yet more isolated from the world.

When I started writing the song, I was 32 years old; I just beginning to learn about emotional intelligence. Now, less than a month away from turning 37, I feel like I am becoming on expert on focusing on what I can control, not on what I can not: including other people.

The opening line of the song, “I am a skeleton with meat on my bones”, is my way of acknowledging the ability to separate others’ perception of who they think I am, versus my own perception of who I think I am. In reality, my identity is somewhere in between.

Later on in the song, I admit, “My perspective of reality will die with me.”

We live in somewhat of an illusion of who we think we are, and we struggle to not worry about what other people think about us; yet in reality, how others collectively perceive us ultimately is part of who we actually are.

So it’s even more groundbreaking of a concept when a person chooses to control their own emotions exclusively; not giving permission to others to “hurt” their feelings or offend them.

This leads to a sense of a confused state of being for a guy like me: “Maybe it’s a dream. Is this even real?”

In other words, if I can control so much of my life now that I understand only I control the breaker switch of my own emotions, life starts to feel a little bit like I’m part of some grand scheme of a social experiment. Maybe this is my version of The Truman Show.

I hope you enjoy my song and I hope you can personally relate to it in some way. It is truly an extension of my identity. To understand who I am (or at least who I think I am) is to understand this song.