Unpredictable, irrefutable, and profound. Though we believe love to be inseparable from who we are as humans, its mere existence relies on our willingness to place an enormous amount of faith in an intangible “energy” that flows throughout the universe unimpeded by space and time.
Regardless of our beliefs concerning the intrinsic nature of this emotion… the love expressed and received though our five senses is rather fleeting, delicate, and at times, deceptive. What may have begun as a fiery romance may well blossom into a more mature love, or it may run its course and fade into a distant memory.
Love is both eternal and transient… one of life’s greatest contradictions.
It is no surprise then that whether celebrating or condemning its ability to conjure a spectrum of emotions, musicians have grappled with the concept of love since time immemorial.
So powerful is this love theme that singer John Lydon from PiL was asked by the records execs to consider a momentary departure from his anarchist tendencies and write a marketable love song, to which he responded with “This Is Not A Love Song” (ironically PiL’s biggest hit).
I guess even the infamous Johnny Rotten can’t defile a love song.
Whether songwriters are looking for love in all the wrong places, or insisting that love will keep us together, love songs have emerged as both cautionary tales and medicine for musician and listener alike. However, to experience the healing benefits of love and the artistic expression that love inspires, we must willingly embrace vulnerability.
Singer-songwriter Tawny Ellis blissfully bathes in the emotional and artistic insight gained from surrendering to vulnerability. Furthermore, her quest for understanding has resulted in music that is accessible and poignant. Tawny’s latest endeavor has resulted in a soon to be released album, due later this year, entitled Love Life.
Merging musical nuances of Country with a subtle hint of Celtic folklorism, her newest songs touch on a timeless romanticism executed as subconscious melodic invocation.
Her video release “Pretend Love” artfully encapsulates a moment of letting go… often the most difficult yet most loving thing that we can do. The video embraces metaphor and symbolism, wrapped in a deep mystical expression of kindness.
Offering praise and gratitude, Tawny acquiesces to the mysteries of the universe via her latest release “Moonshine”, which carries a primordial message love, shrouded in humility and wrapped in admiration.
Tawny has chosen to delve into themes that extend far beyond one-dimensional love songs, revealing a true desire to learn, offering tribute to the universe and our place in and of it.
Citizen LA: Some people pride themselves on making simple life choices. Would you describe yourself as a simple woman?
Tawny: I am an emotional conduit. [laughs] However, I am a simple woman in the sense that I love my animals.
Citizen LA: So you’re in no way an a victim of your emotions?
Tawny: I prefer to curate fun. It sounds really corny but it’s the truth.
Citizen LA: How does love fit into your universe?
Tawny: Everything begins with love. It’s about releasing emotion within us, and with others, in a positive way… to avoid being highly critical, and just encourage ourselves.
Citizen LA: Your new album explores different aspects of love and our connection to it. Why love? Why now?
Tawny: I love watching the dynamics of human relationships. Unfortunately, there are unhealthy scenes happening between couples over and over again. They play house, then a couple weeks later they’re calling someone else ‘Honey, baby, lover’.
Citizen LA: The viscous circle.
Tawny: I understand that sometimes we get involved with somebody or something that accelerates our dark side. It’s important to embrace our shadow-side, work through it, then let it go.
Citizen LA: Do you believe that things happen to us? Or do we bring these experiences upon ourselves?
Tawny: I think we get to choose. If we search for beauty and joy, we’ll respond better to life’s challenges.
Citizen LA: Do you believe in good and evil?
Tawny: I think people can have a good or an evil intent. As far as heaven and hell… I think we can have them both right here on earth.
Citizen LA: How do you interpret or channel your emotions?
Tawny: I’m an ongoing piece of art. [laughs] But I have the tools to keep growing.
Citizen LA: I guess it’s about making the conscious decision to reach into the toolbox, or not.
Tawny: I reflect on what I’m feeling by asking “Is this valid?” A lot of people don’t want to talk about ego. But it can serve us… or it can destroy us.
Tawny: By picking up my instruments… diaries… and stacks and stacks of writing. I guess a lot may be considered poetry, as they didn’t come to me with a melody.
Citizen LA: Did you find music or did it find you?
Tawny: It was really about my voice. I remember being like five or six years old… I was in the hallway of my home, which had wooden floors and wooden doors… singing at the top of my lungs… getting off on the acoustics. I thought I was alone, then my Dad pops his head in and says “I thought I heard and angel singing out here.” He gave me the gift of my life, by acknowledging my singing.
Citizen LA: What were you singing?
Tawny: The Lord’s Prayer. But the first songs that I actually wrote were about my animals… horses and pigs and goats. I would sit on the haystacks in the barn and just sing. [laughs]
Citizen LA: The lyrics in these latest songs express an understated confidence. Is there subtext behind this artistic journey?
Tawny: As an artist, I think we’re meant to help each other. It’s like alchemy. I’m taking something that’s not accessible and trying to change it. I don’t want to be selfish or think I’m better than.
Citizen LA: We are influenced by the energy of the world around us. How would you hope your music alters or contributes to this energy?
Tawny: I wanna make people think through the music. In my song ‘Moonshine’, I completely surrender to the universe. I can have all of the intentions in the world… but… it knows more than me. And it may deliver something better than I intended. We should all be open to a different story that might be better.
Citizen LA: Like when you think you’ve ruined your painting… but you work through it… and it ends up being better.
Tawny: Yeah, like that shamanistic feeling of being carried through. I do believe in creative energy and it’s out there to tap into.
Citizen LA: Your new songs have Country influences, yet hint at something folkloric, which is interesting because country music does have partial roots in Celtic music.
Tawny: I don’t know where the Celtic thing comes from but I’ve heard that before. I was born in Savannah Georgia… maybe there’s some connection.
Citizen LA: Did you tap into this deliberately for the new album?
Tawny: It wasn’t a conscious choice. With this next album, I felt like I was taping into a world between worlds.
The ephemeral nature of love ensures its endless arrival and departure. Nevertheless, the fact that it leaves at seemingly inopportune moments is what makes its return so much sweeter.
Tawny Ellis continues to move the needle forward on her LP of life, endlessly in search of that transformative musical silver lining. Her newest songs speak to the wisdom gained by setting limits, while bravely remaining open to the tumultuous cycles of love.
As an artist, Tawny is mindful that without love’s shadow-side, there’d be no juxtaposition, no impetus to work through those feelings as song.
And it is precisely this duality, this contradiction, this suffering and consequent healing, that leads to a clearer understanding of the love around us. Wherein, once again, we find the humor, the irony, in admitting to ourselves… it’s that same ol’ love, yet completely different.