WELCOME

Hello, I'm Cygne (looks intimidating, but it's pronounced seen). I just completed a fifteen-country tour in support of my latest album, Let It Breathe. Right now I'm taking a pause to do just that. Please enjoy the music and writing and if you feel moved to, please say hello.

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NEWS

Current Inspiration: Sandra Boynton 

I'm crushing so hard on Sandra Boynton right now. Do you know her? You know her. You've probably given or received at least one of her greeting cards:

I met her this morning and before I realized who she was I was already crushing because she was so incredibly kind and gracious. And then I Googled her... and I realized she's not only the creator of at least 75% of the staples from my nannying days, she's also at the heart of some of my earliest childhood memories. Early, formative, joyful memories of falling in love with words and pictures and silly hippos that made this strange planet seem more familiar, fun, and faceable. 


Her work is hilarious in the most brilliant way, a wit that highlights the joy of play for all ages, something that is extremely rare and direly needed now and always. Plus she loves chocolate enough to write a book about it. I'm in awe of her. Look at what this woman has created


After spending a good chunk of time laughing out loud on her website I ordered a bunch of greeting cards and I'm going to have a hard time parting with them... but they'll be the next batch of mail that goes out to my patreon peeps. :D

Have a great week! New tunes soon!

Current Inspiration: Fred Rogers 

Last week I went to see Won't You Be My Neighbor? Have you seen it? It is such good medicine... especially when it feels like the world's experiencing a shortage of leaders or - let's be honest - adults. I loved watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood as a kid and I credit him with introducing me to music and songwriting, as well as enabling me to navigate the emotions that feed music and songwriting. The documentary surpassed my expectations. I cried five times and I guffawed at least twice that. When I got home I did a quick search and watched the first episode that came up. Of course it's about music, starring one of my heroes, Yo-Yo Ma. :)

Love is at the root of everything. - Fred Rogers

Take Me Home: PKP 


Seeking the approval of others is a form of self-hatred. We have been groomed to do this. Or maybe we just do this… because we do this. But we do this. I do this. Seeking, scrolling tweeting, trolling… onscreen and off. Each journey around the sun I crave approval a little less, but I still find myself jumping to please a Loved One. Am I not a Loved One, too? Is it so hard to see ourselves? Will selfies ultimately give way to deep unconditional acceptance of Self? I don’t know, but one thing I do know is that fear spends what Love saves. Energy. Life force. Protect your precious resource. Your life is worth more than the U.S. National Debt (currently $21,205,959,245,607.94). Don’t let it slip into the pockets of others, figuratively or literally. We don’t need all this stuff. We Are. I love you.

Bath-time thoughts. Happy Tuesday. Mars is cray, yo. 

Photo from somewhere between Łódź and Toruń, just before my 32nd journey ’round the sun…

Shout-out to Musicians 

This morning I woke up to a text from my sister: "You are not alone. It's a crisis facing much of the industry." Then she sent a link to a recent article, Musicians Are Poorer and More Abused Than Regular People Survey Says.

Than Regular People. The title sounds like an Onion article. So often we hear about how poor musicians are - wait, do we hear that? I don't even know what people hear... for so long I've been consumed by the hustle I have no idea what the mainstream sounds like. Maybe the majority of "regular people" think of musicians as the Beyonces of the world? (I recognize that there is only one Queen B, but you know what I'm saying).

All people are regular people - and all people struggle. "From the cradle to the grave," as Joni says. For musicians, though - musicians you know and love, musicians singing in that dark corner of the restaurant, musicians on the subway platform, musicians at the coffee shop, musicians onstage, musicians on TV - it's a struggle that's often romanticized... even trivialized. A struggle for which we're blamed and ridiculed. 

"If it's so hard why are you doing it?" "Get a real job." "You're just not good enough." "What do you expect, handouts?" "You do it because you love it, right?" Yes, yes, YES, we make music and share it with the world because we love it - enough to do it for free, to go into debt, to sacrifice relationships, to forgo stability, to risk our future, and to damage our health. But that doesn't mean it has to be this way. 

Lately I've been receiving texts and emails from musicians experiencing depression, anxiety, and injustice on the road. Musicians who appear to be "successful" on the internet. Musicians who think I'm "successful" because of the internet. The internet is so tricky. We're all limited by our own little window to the world... a world we're in together. 

Keep reaching out. Keep singing out. The world needs your work. 

And to those of you who love and support us... thank you. <3 

Take Me Home: København, DNK 


Outside a small cafe in Nørrebro, a “hip” part of København, a man was selling assorted household items on the sidewalk — gently worn shoes, children’s blocks, a giant kitchen timer, etc. 

“Are you having a good day? Are things selling well?” 

“I always have a good day,” he smiled. “It’s important to focus on the good things.” Seeing the notebook under my arm he asked, “Are you American?” 

I looked down and noticed the cover bore a small US flag with “Made in USA” beneath. Shit, I thought. “Yes.” 

“Where do you come from?” 

“Eh….” I never know how to answer this. Every attempt feels like a lie. He laughed. 

“Once I saw a guy on a talent search show who had a similar answer,” he said. “Here, there… the guy was really funny! Are you having a good day?” 

“Eh….” I wasn’t. I was jetlagged, overwhelmed, and sharing a room with a guy who stared with longing and told me I reminded him of his ex-girlfriend. “Just tired.” 

“Come,” he said, moving aside vests and a blanket so we could sit on a bench. “Give me your right hand. You are going to send all your negative feelings to me.” 

My heart surged. Not the surge you’d expect of a young woman meeting a strange man in a foreign city street, but the surge of a struggling sadhu meeting her guru in the forest. As I placed my hand in his my eyes swelled. Paris. Brussels. Terror. Anger. Refugees. Despair. One more puff and I felt like the whole world would fall down. 

“It’s okay, I can take it. Just breathe and know you are safe.” 

A tear slid down my cheek. A bicycle pinged. Sunlight danced on my eyelids. A cool breeze shivered my spine and then… breathing.… I was breathing. 

After a time I opened my eyes and he said, “Fasting during Ramadan has helped me become more positive. It’s a mental as well as a physical fast — to conserve energy one speaks less, is more reflective.” He looked at me so kindly, without judgment or proselytizing. Just compassion. “It’s important to focus on thinking about the good things and only speaking good things.” 

Lately it's hard not to dwell on the bad, sad things… but what does that accomplish? Where does that take me? Who does that empower? When I think of holding hands with a bodhisattva on a bench midway between our respective homelands there is a break in the fog… and I’m reminded that this planet is filled with living, breathing, loving beings and there are so, so many hands to hold if we just reach out our own.

    

Take Me Home: Telluride, CO 

Happy Solstice. Ten years ago today I woke up in Telluride for the first time. I arrived late the night before, not super late but late enough that the only vacant camping spot was half falling into a river. I was thrilled. I was in Telluride, and the river would sing me to sleep. 

The next day I woke to a sky so crisp I thought it might melt in my mouth. Lilacs. Smiling faces. Music. I was already in love when I took the stage at Telluride Bluegrass Festival. I felt my chest might explode, and not only because of the altitude. 

The performance went as well as I could've hoped... though my hope was pretty wild back then. I was very green. So green I didn't recognize the man waiting for me afterwards as that night's headliner. Not until we were halfway through lunch did I recognize his face from the cover of the gossip magazine I'd seen at my sister's apartment the month before. 

After sharing soggy peach cobbler we circled through the campground to drop off my stuff. At first I couldn't find my tent because now it really was falling into the river - I forgot to mention that it was broken so I had tied it to branches above, which apparently had given way. "That's so punk rock," he said. "Don't worry, you'll stay with me tonight."

And so it went... if you've heard "Back in NY" you know the gist of it. My enchantment deepened, heightened, expanded in every direction as I stood backstage, wide-eyed and enamored with not one but with All. I didn't just feel like a fish out of water, I felt like a fish with its face pressed against the side of the aquarium, drooling fish drool, longing for admission to this super cool fish school. And yet... I was a fish, too. 

There's too much to squeeze in this little box but one image that still makes me laugh is that of him scooping up armfuls of candy and videos (actual videos #tbt) in the hotel lobby after his show, manic, elated, childlike, qualities I see in musicians of all ages, all over the world. Maybe it's what makes us crazy and difficult to live with... but it's also why you love us. And we love you.

 

Current Inspiration: Richie Havens 

This song has been running through my head in recent days. My heart aches for the families separated at the U.S. border. I can't sleep. I can't think about anything except those poor motherless children and childless parents. Only a voice as powerful as Richie Havens can hold me steady now.

When I was thirteen or so I got to see him perform this song in my hometown. It was as close as I'd ever come to meeting god. In fact, I did meet him - he towered above me with a wide open smile and shook my hand (which I didn't wash for days), infusing my palm with the electricity of nothing less than an angel's wing.

Thank you, Richie. <3

You can hear me sing a version of this song on Patreon. All proceeds will go to Together Rising

A message from Cosmic Turtle 

There’s abundant evidence that the world is spinning out of control. And it is. Because the world has never been in our control. And it’s okay. We’re okay. When we notice this, we’re out of its control. We’re free. We have choices. We have imaginations. And then we can use them.

This morning I jogged along to the last minutes of an audiobook, The Female Persuasion. I like to listen to audiobooks on low volume without headphones so I can hear the birds and keep the bears away (I’m not sure if this is an effective bear-deterrent, but it’s a comforting thought.) Plus, out here in the “country” it’s helpful and inspiring to hear other human voices, especially smart, witty ones that offer entertainment and perspective on difficult subjects.

Today I was faster than usual because I got a late start. I always feel behind, no matter what I’m doing. There’s just so much I want to do. Here we are in the longest days of the year and they still feel too short.

As I approached the top of the hill I noticed a lump in the road I couldn’t identify…  a new shape in my growing encyclopedia, slightly domed. Just before the stop sign the narrator reached the final lines of the book —There wasn’t much time. In the end, she thought, the turtle might outlive them all — and at that exact moment the lump in the road revealed itself to be a turtle.


Can you imagine my delight? Yes, there are many critters in these woods… but this is the first time I've seen a turtle, and I can’t remember the last time I read/listened to a book in which a turtle had a starring role. The world might be out of control but maybe, just maybe... something is connecting all these moving parts?

As we approach solstice, the top of the hill, the time when the planet is divided into extreme darkness and extreme light, find solace in nature. Slow down, says Turtle in my hands. See all the light has to reveal. Feel all that is shrouded in darkness. Beyond these extremes and constant flux there is solid, common ground. Proceed carefully, watch for signs, trust yourself to recognize them, and you will get there. You are here. And you are needed. 

Love, 
Cygne

Children 


Remember when we did those immigration projects as kids, interviewing relatives on how our families came to this continent? Remember how united we felt when we shared our stories because we all had this thing in common, that we’re a nation of immigrants? Remember how proud we were? Remember that school trip to Ellis Island, where we made crayon rubbings of our ancestors’ names? Remember how good it felt, riding the ferry on a sunny day instead of sitting in a classroom learning about war all the time? Remember all those wars? How America freed itself from the mean British and saved the world from those savage Nazis? Remember when we were the children of superheroes? Remember how lucky we were? 

I don’t remember waking from the dream, but I know it coincided with mourning. An ever-increasing mourning. As with any deep sleep the waking process has been slow. I rub my eyes. I do not believe them. I do not want to believe them. I am so tired of mourning my country. A country that never was and yet will not admit this and so refuses to become. 

Children in cages. Should we be shocked? We did it to the Japanese. We did it to the Africans. We did it to an entire continent of people who were here first. Why is it so hard to remember that, America? Why are we so full of hate? Are we afraid that maybe one day we’ll have to pay for all of this?

Current Inspiration: the woods 

In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life — no disgrace, no calamity (leaving me my eyes), which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, — my head bathed my the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God.  

As a teenager I underlined and starred these lines by Ralph Waldo Emerson, going over I become a transparent eyeball a second time with green marker. I hadn’t read them in years until, arriving home from the woods and "randomly" pulling a book from a pile, this is the passage that greeted me. :)