There was a piece of me so lost… I ran around the world creating chaos… crashing and burning and needing to be rescued again and again trying to find it.
Listen to the EP while reading the text.
Sing? I Can’t Sing
Twenty years ago I went to Dublin, Ireland (I live in NYC), to perform a play I wrote. There was a tarot card reader at an art opening who told me I would not get off the island unless I learn to sing. She told me specific details about my life, but, sing, no way… I am not a singer… I can’t sing… yet the hair on the back of my neck stood up… She told me to go find the music.
In a flash, I remembered a piece of me buried so deep. I saw the musical The Wiz when I was 11 or 12 and knew instantly – this is what I am going to do with my life. I felt a connection to something so magnificent I couldn’t imagine life without it. I started singing lessons. I was so excited… this is it – this is the beginning of it all. After the second lesson, the voice teacher told my mom not to waste her money. I felt worthless… I felt I didn’t matter. I buried my desire to sing where it gathered a thick armor of shame for having it. I thought… well I can still be an actor, a wider interpretation for ability.
Find The Music
Now, twenty years later… in a foreign country… I remembered who I was before I was told I couldn’t be… I set out to find the music. Every Tuesday night upstairs at The International Bar was a singer/songwriter night run by a living legend named Dave Murphy. It was a small packed smoky room with a tiny platform stage. There was no microphone, no fanfare… Paddy Casey, Terry Sutton, Sinead Martin, Gemma Hayes, Mundy, the list is endless. One incredible singer/songwriter after another… I had never heard such beauty and truth. These people were extraordinary. I had no business trying to be a singer. And if I was going to try, it wasn’t going to be in front of these people.
I fled back to NYC where I could hash out being awful. I took a voice lesson, and I cried… no really crieeeed… years of sadness for that child who felt she didn’t matter. I thought I was stronger than this. I thought with enough determination I would be able to take back the parts of me I didn’t even know, I let be abandoned. After some desperate attempts at open mikes where nothing would come out of my mouth. I realized I couldn’t. I was trying to force something I wasn’t meant for… I accepted I wouldn’t sing in this lifetime.
The Universe Conspired
Seven years later I ran back to Ireland to try to get some peace of mind after I lost mine in NYC. A musician I knew said “Hey, I am going to the singer/songwriter night wanna come?” and I thought… oh no…
So on a rainy Tuesday night (just kidding, it is Ireland ), I went to Bankers Bar where the night was now being held. Dave Murphy, was still running it, he is the patron saint of this world after all… he called me up. I whispered a bit of a song while shaking so bad I couldn’t play the guitar.
Dave told me to “go busking” to help me get over my fear of singing. I thought, no way I can’t do that. I woke up the next day and knew he was right. It was a directive, a marching order. Also, I was broke… I couldn’t work in Ireland. My back was against the wall. The universe conspired.
Give Us A Song
I went to play in Merchants Arch, a heavily trafficked passageway. I played for hours with my voice barely squeaking out. I didn’t make enough for a cup of coffee. I was hungry and tired and thought I’d just go home and figure something else out… I tried but cannot do it.
I was walking up a street and two shady guys, who were clearly fucked up and not in a jovial way, were coming toward me. I shuttered. Only a few times in my life have felt truly afraid – this was one of them. They locked eyes on me. One of the guys said, “Give us a song.” And I said “For 20 euro I will” and kept walking. Then he said, “write a song about me mate, and I’ll give you 50 euro.”
I got out my guitar and sang them a song. I didn’t think he was going to give me any money and didn’t care because it was fun. But he did. He gave me a 50 euro note. It felt like a million dollars.
I went back to Merchants Arch the next day and the next… the truer and louder I sang… the more money went in my case. People dropped coins, 5, 10, 100 euro notes; people would say “you made my day.” The junkies and drunks of the street told me no one would bother me because they were looking out for me. No one did.
Somedays I didn’t make much money. Sometimes people would look at me with pity and speed past me as if I was going to contaminate them with disgrace. I would dance with children… and then there was Declan who would come by in his electric wheelchair which he controlled with the only movement he had in his body, two fingers… I would sing Sweet Home Alabama, and Declan would spin around in his chair and sing in his voice… loud guttural moans… this was the glory… this was magic… I was connected to something so magnificent. It matters.
Nine months after I started singing my Irish visa didn’t get renewed… in all the years I had been going back and forth, I never had a problem with my Visa… the universe conspired.
This EP was self-produced. It is the best I could do with what I had. Guitar, Vocal, and Harmonica were recorded at the same time and in one take.
The Wiz… really that obvious… right there the whole time.
Elizabeth Pugh, Category: Artist, Albums: Seven, Top Tracks: Reckoning, Silence, Skin, Loved Only You, Seven Spanish Angels, Biography: Elizabeth Pugh is an actor, writer and singer/songwriter based in New York City.