Music Life

by Mia Doi Todd

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1.
If you give your life to music, it opens up the path. Maybe you didn’t even choose it. You made the most with what you had. If you give your life to music and commune with the unseen, your brain is like a fuse. It melts the distances between. Chances are you’ve got a few friends, always swimming on the deep end, chasing dragons and sunsets, shooting whiskey and hallucinogens. If you give your life to music, it might not go quite like you thought. You find religion in your instrument, and inspiration is your god. If you give your life to music, there’s a certain sacrifice. The ups and downs, well you get used to it, but on your psyche, there’s a price. Chances are you’ve got a few friends, spread out all over the continent. You think of them but don’t hear from them ’til they’re just voices inside your head. And chances are you’ve had a night or three of which you have no memory. You’ve looked all over for someone to care, but then you see they’re always standing there. You need more room in your head to think so you reach for another drink. Years of travel and loneliness make you susceptible to some excess. And though you didn’t think much of it, maybe you went past your own limit. If you give your life to music If you give your life to music Chances are you’ve got a few friends who burned the candle at both ends and every day was a weekend until the dark night came for them in a hotel or hospital room and now you’ll be seeing them soon in dreams and memories bittersweet and in songs sung so beautifully, songs sung so beautifully, life lived so fully. IF YOU GIVE YOUR LIFE TO MUSIC No regret, don’t forget, I loved you, I loved you. No regret, don’t forget, I love you, I love you.
2.
Michael take me to the mountain where the air is clear and free. I know the road and the obstruction. We will avoid our enemies, our enemies, our enemies. Michael take me to the mountain. We’ll leave behind these city streets. I can no longer be around them. Let’s go someplace where we can breathe. Michael meet me in the garden Underneath the laurel tree. We’ll take our fill from the fountain For it will be a long journey. Michael meet me in the garden. We’ll fill our carpetbags with fruit. This kind of knowledge, it was hard won. Shall we go looking for the truth? Watch for the eagles in the sky. They will lead us, be our guides. Michael take me to the mountain. In the hills, we may find gold. We’ll make our offerings at the temple And then we’ll give the bell a toll. And the god and goddess deep inside, Come out to guide us toward the light. Michael take me to the mountain.
3.
My Fisherman 04:28
My fisherman, he lives on land. Mermaid, I live in the sea. He comes my way, most every day. We sing and dance in the waves. Indeed our days are long. My fisherman likes the wind in his face. His hands are strong and sure, Pulling his oars, raising his sail, Setting his course for me. I call the fish into his nets. My fisherman has a wife and two sons Still too young to sail. When the ocean is rich, the cupboard is full, The table is set for his return. Indeed the nights are long. Salt on his hands, salt on his face, The taste of the sea on his tongue, Salt on his front, salt on his back, And salt for sure in his blood, He is surely a man of the sea. My fisherman, he knows someday He will lie down with me in the waves, And journey with me to the bottom so deep Where all is still and calm, At the bottom of the sea. And the beautiful faces of his beautiful wife And two young handsome sons Will look to the sea, waiting patiently Until all the storms are done To shed their salty tears.
4.
Why don’t these problems just go away? Time should have healed our old heartache. Childhood just would not be overcome. Mistakes that were made could not be undone. I tried my best, but it’s too late. Taking care was just my fate. You are still young and free and fun. Break those chains and you can run. Little Bird, why not go live in London? I heard you have a friend there. Maybe with her you could stay? Little Bird, why not go live in London? Go out and see the world! Come on, you’ve never left LA! Little Bird, there’s such a strength inside you, Like a seed waiting for the rain. Little Bird, if the doctor hasn’t told you, You are beautiful and so very full of grace. Why don’t these problems just go away? Time should have healed our old heartache. Childhood just would not be overcome. By the grownups that we’ve become. Little Bird, why not go to Paris? There is a drummer there. I know he took your breath away. Little Bird, why not go to Paris? See some old paintings and all those shops in Le Marais! Little Bird, trust your intuition. Don’t be scared to let someone inside. Little Bird, our nest was all broken, But spread your wings and know that you can fly! But it’s not easy, facing the truth, What really happened to you, The feelings of a helpless child, Secret things that you had to hide. Martyr, you suffered more than your share. Your mother, said he wouldn’t dare. Doors closed; it happened all the time. No one knows. Hush now don’t you cry. If you need to cry, cry baby cry. Why don’t these problems just go away? Taking care was just my fate. The future is yours. What can you dream? Don’t let the past rule everything. Little Bird, why not go live in London? I heard you have a friend there. Maybe with her you could stay? Little Bird, how ‘bout Mexico City? or San Miguel de Allende? Little bird, how ‘bout Vancouver B.C.? Santa Cruz or Santa Fe? or Philadelphia, or San Francisco or Minneapolis or Toronto Miami, Memphis, Maui pronto! You Gotta Get Away! Bali or Bangkok, Denver or Dallas Maybe Atlanta or Atlantis? Taipei, Tokyo, Hong Kong, or Kansas Anywhere but LA!! Oh little bird, little bird little bird, you gotta get away! Oh little bird, little bird little bird, you gotta fly away!
5.
Mohinder and the Maharani set out early one morn. Mohinder and the Maharani in the light of the dawn, In the light of the dawn, by the gates of Pushkar town, In the light of the dawn, by the gates of Pushkar town. Mohinder and the Maharani in their gold and silver rings, Surrender to the camel’s rocking, and the bells, they sweetly sing. Oh the camels dance o’er the gently shifting sands. Oh the camels dance o’er the gently shifting sands. Mohinder and the Maharani make camp by dinner time. Bless the fire and the hot chapati after the long day’s drive. Over the dunes comes the goatherd’s tune. And round the campfire dance, the Maharani hands. Mohinder and the Maharani lay down beneath the sky. The full moon and stars are shining. Oh the night it is so bright. The night is so bright, sleep won’t come tonight. The moon, so full, shines into the lovers’ eyes. Mohinder and the Maharani spent a fortnight crossing land, bells ringing, camels dancing, nights curled up on the sand. When the fortress at Jaisalmer on the horizon appears The freedom of the desert is all the more dear.
6.
You may think that I don't care 'Cause I've been a rover here and everywhere In Princeton, you bet, about me they never yet say good But one thing I like about you You always do as you should and that's why If I don't, if I don't have you Then for me, there'll be nobody else, no, oh no And even if the river should run dry For me, there'll be nobody else, no, oh, no I may stay away for a night or two But all form of respect unto you is still due Though staying away make you feel mad, it make you feel blue But it's not that I really mean to embarrass you, 'cause darling If I don't, if I don't have you Then for me there'll be nobody else no, oh no, no And even if the trees should touch the sky For me, there'll be nobody else, believe me If I don't, if I don't, if I don't have you Nobody else will do
7.
Here in Wainiha Valley, Lives our happy family. Banana trees sing in the breeze, soak up the sun. Green turns to yellow, fruit for everyone. Papaya for papa and mama Ripe avocado good for little one, Learning to use her fingers, Playing with caterpillar. Rooster crows and baby knows it’s time to wake. So much to learn today, she just can’t wait. In the dawn, all is blue and turns to pink. Here comes mama’s milk, so sweet to drink. Here in Wainiha Valley, Lives our happy family. The river flows fast and free from the mountains, Joins the stream and then the sea, waves crashing. Down the way at Kee, we go swimming. Everyday we watch the sunset, smiling. Then back up into the valley. We wash off our feet all salty and sandy. In the night, lightning strikes with thunder.
8.
Find me, can you find me? Flying overhead with flowers in my hair Find me, can you find me? Always in my head, when I should be with you instead I can say it takes a long time to get what you want. If it ever comes, bid it stay a moment. I can say it takes a long time to know how you feel. So when the waves vacillate, you can tell what is real. Now I know what is real. Yes I know what is real. I can feel it in my sleep, fighting with my sense of self, Aching in my dreams, working out my mental health. I can feel it in my dreams, where I still live in my own domain. What I didn’t want to keep, I sent it on the night train. I sent it on the night train, so when it comes back, It will have seen the world, and it won’t hurt like that. No it won’t hurt like that, no it won’t hurt like that. When the light turns green, driving to the rock show With a girl of sixteen, how could she ever know? When the light turns green, which way will the weather go? Will he be mean? I’ll bring my umbrella so I might stay dry in the river of tears. I’ll bring a boat too, it’s an ocean of tears. It’s an ocean of tears, where we learn to swim In our mother’s womb and from within. It’s an ocean of tears, where we learn to swim And I swim to you, and I swim to him In the ocean of tears, ocean of pain, ocean of fear, ocean of rain Ocean of life, ocean of death, ocean of time, ocean of breath Baby of mine, swim toward the light; baby inside, swim toward the breath. Oh my daughter of hope, you have a mother of fantasy. And I can’t always cope with the harsh realities. We’re living in a marketplace, the world has gone flat. Pop the champagne, it won’t grow back. Oh my daughter of hope, for you I want everything, A beautiful world, a land of plenty, A world without greed, good food to eat, Clean water to drink and room to think. Oh my daughter of hope, for you I want everything! Oh my daughter of hope, for you I want everything! A world without sorrow, a world without pain, A better world tomorrow, and the best day today. Oh my daughter of hope! Oh my daughter of fantasy! Oh my daughter of love! Oh my daughter of mystery! I want you to know me, and I want to know you. I want you to know me, and I want to know you. Find me, can you find me? Flying overhead with flowers in my hair. Find me, can you find me? Always in your heart, always in your hands Always in your blood, always in your head. Find me, yes you found me! My daughter of hope, my daughter of hope. I found you. Yes I found you. Daughter of hope, daughter of hope.

about

Mia Doi Todd 12th album, Music Life, was recorded in her native Los Angeles. The album features guest performances from Jeff Parker, Money Mark, Fabiano do Nascimento, Sam Gendel, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson and Laraaji.

Ever since her debut release in 1997, singer-songwriter Mia Doi Todd has created a body of work that is intensely personal and unique, with a rich variety of cultural and creative influences. A solo artist with an innate sense of connecting links between other musicians, Mia has stepped into the role of composer on Music Life. The album, produced with husband Jesse Peterson, embraces the themes of motherhood and the creative life of the artist. The songs, autobiographical with a splash of mythology, continue her lyrical journey, from the deserts of Rajasthan to the coast of Bahia, from existential questions on mortality, sexual assault and overdose to the wonder and joy of caring for a young child.

The songs are epic and cinematic. “Take Me to the Mountain” is a symphonic call to Nature’s healing powers. In the sea shanty “My Fisherman,” based on novelist Jorge Amado’s Sea of Death, Mia sings from the perspective of the mermaid and ocean goddess, Yemanja, about her lover, the allegorical fisherman, who faces the dangers of the sea to feed his family. Like the figure of the artist, he is always chasing the muse. “Little Bird” hides its secret source of sadness behind a sweet samba flair. Mia’s cover of “If I Don’t Have You” is a fragile, folky take on Gregory Isaacs’ classic lovers rock ballad, with lilting vocals and melodica floating above earthy percussion. “Daughter of Hope” finishes the album with a prayer for the future, amidst angelic choir and triumphant horns.

Mia describes writing the title track “Music Life”:

“The title track begins: “If you give your life to music, it opens up the path.” My musical path started when I was a teenager, taking singing lessons from my Silver Lake neighbor who was an opera singer. Not long afterwards, I began writing songs and finding my own voice. I followed indie rock bands and started playing shows around town. Gradually music came to consume most of my being! The song addresses the ups and downs of a musician’s life. I wrote it the night I came home from a dear friend’s memorial service, another of several musician friends who have passed away at a young age. The song morphs organically through background vocals and psychedelic guitars and ultimately emerges as a celebration of life lived fully.

We recorded the basic tracks at Barefoot Recording (formerly Crystal Sound) in Hollywood, the studio where Stevie Wonder and others recorded many great albums. I played the 9 foot grand piano there and sang my heart out, surrounded by my musical friends and collaborators: Money Mark on organ, Jesse Peterson on rhythm guitar, Will Logan on drums, Andres Renteria on percussion and Brandon Owens on bass. The song comes to a final crescendo with Jeff Parker’s swirling electric guitar solos and the lyrics “If you give your life to music, no regret, don’t forget, I loved you.”

credits

released February 26, 2021

Produced by Jesse Peterson
Engineered by Tim O’Sullivan
Recorded at Barefoot Recording, Los Angeles
Additional Recording at Château des Chats II
Mastered by Bernie Grundman
Artwork by Mia Doi Todd

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Mia Doi Todd Los Angeles, California

Mia Doi Todd is a prolific singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, known for her unique voice and emotional songwriting.  Her album, “Cosmic Ocean Ship,” was chosen by the New York Times as one of the top ten records of 2011.  Her new album, due out in early 2021, focuses on motherhood and the life of the artist.  Mia helped to start the music venue Zebulon in the LA neighborhood where she grew up. ... more

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