June 25 / 2021
I pre-released this song in February as a fundraising campaign for the Canadian Mental Health Association - cmha.ca. I sold downloads exclusively off this website and raised over $5000 for CMHA! Thanks so much to all the folks who jumped in on that drive and made it happen. Today the song get's released "officially" and will be available on all the streaming services you can think of.
Here's the story of how I came to write this song. Thanks for listening.
“Make This Day” is mostly based on a conversation I had with my grandfather (Art Church Sr.) when I was in my mid-20s. I was going through a rough patch. I found myself waking up most mornings, flooded with negative thoughts, which were paralyzing, depressing, and that set the tone of my days with a feeling of hopelessness. During one of our long rambling talks, I was able to confide in him about what I was going through.
He listened, and then told me that he’d dealt with the same thing, on and off, his whole life. He said that although he never stopped having the experience, he’d learned that if he could make himself get out of bed at the first sign of trouble, he could often get in front of the problem. For him, lying in bed wasn’t a good venue for self-reflection. It physically made him feel helpless and left him unable to sort through and deal with his thoughts. The act of getting up seemed to empower him enough to cope most days. I believe the way he summed it up was something like “At the first sign of trouble, I drag my ass out of bed, and make friends with the day”.
It wasn’t so much his advice that’s made that conversation memorable (although I took it, and for me, most of the time it works) - it was the power that came from the realization that I wasn’t alone in what I was struggling with. My Grandfather was an especially warm, funny, and positive person – just one of those “happy guys”. From his outward appearance, it would never have occurred to me (or, I think anyone else) that he often found himself dealing with that morning darkness. Knowing that I wasn’t alone made the problem seem smaller and more manageable. That conversation changed my perception of myself and others, it gave me strength and even a practical tool to deal with what I was going through.
So often we’re hesitant to share our inner struggles because we don’t want to worry or be a burden on the people in our lives. I share this story, and this song, to remind you that sometimes the best thing you can do for the people around you, is let them know how you’re really feeling and what you’re dealing with, especially when you’re down. It might be just what they need to hear. It’s not that misery loves company, but it’s so easy to start feeling like you’re the only one out there, and it’s good to be reminded that you’re not.
In this long-ass and rather grim winter, I can’t be the only one for whom just getting out of bed is starting to feel like being part of a resistance movement or something. It might seem like the message of this song is just to “press on” and “push through”. Although ultimately we all have to do that, it’s with the caveat that you not try to do it alone. Push on, but push on together.
My father never really opened up about his bouts of depression (and, I guess, I never opened up enough to ask him), but he was always there if you needed him, and he always seemed to shine a warmth on those he came in contact with. My Uncle Art was quite open about the emotional ups and downs he’d dealt with in his life, and I’ll always value those conversations for the context they’ve added to my own journey (he also happened to be my favorite person in the world to talk about fishing with, and the conversations so often intertwined fluidly).
It can be especially hard to talk about this stuff with your family because they tend to be the people in your life that you strive to put on a brave face for. Yet, if there’s anyone in the world that’s likely to understand what you’re going through, and who could potentially learn from it, it’s them – there’s so much shared history and blood. It’s alright to put on a brave and positive face, just try to be open about what’s behind it.
Anyhow, I’ve been carrying this song around for a few years, and it hasn’t found a home in any of the projects I’ve been working on. But, today felt like a good day to put it out into the world on its own. As a birthday gift to myself, I got my friend Andrew Collins to record it (both the audio and video), got my pal Burke Carroll to add some pedal steel beauty to it, and gave myself the luxury of explaining the song in this very long post.