by Joy Zimmerman

Note by Note: Evensong | No. 20 | October 23, 2019  

I’m currently writing a song called “Not Enough Time in a Lifetime”, but I haven’t had enough time to finish it. Seriously. 

  • When your head hits the pillow, do you usually feel your day was well spent? 
  • Do you find peace knowing you did all you could do in that day? 
  • Do you rest well knowing your mistakes were growing opportunities? 

If you answered yes to these questions, I’ll definitely have what you’re having!  

My perfectionism and insatiable drive sometimes catch up with me at night. I wish I had accomplished more, and I wish I had done it all better. This is not a recipe for peace in anyone’s book. 

Over time I’ve learned to be somewhat easier on myself. I’ve worked on being more compassionate with my striving. I’ve tried to reframe my failings, but the struggle is real. 

I wrote "Evensong" to remind us of the power of gratitude and the beauty and connection that surround us. 

We are held deeper than we know
Beyond all that's spoken below
Even when we lose our place in the sun
And our wounds won't let us go
We have offered ourselves to this day

At the closing of each day
I will count what's swept away
And give thanks for the love that remains
I know challenges begun and songs that will be sung
While the beauty endures and awaits
The beauty endures and awaits 

A couple of weeks ago I got to see Heart perform again. Ann and Nancy Wilson and their band blew me away. Have you ever seen them live? These pioneering women are still rockin’ it like crazy.  

I take heart in Ann Wilson’s words…"What’s important to me is love, especially that. What’s important to me is growing and evolving. But ultimately, what’s important to me is being real and being authentic. I’ve spent enough time in my life holding poses, playing roles.” 

Here’s to being real and authentic—growing edges and all, 

Joy 

P.S. This live version of “Evensong” with Jimmy Dykes is completely acoustic at the Johnson County Old Courthouse in Warrensburg, Missouri. 

P.P.S. The second video is the full-band version from my album, “Say My Name” recorded at Weights and Measures Soundlab in Kansas City.

Joy Zimmerman's soulful vocals and original music dance effortlessly from poignant to hilarious to compelling to joyful -- round-trip guaranteed! With folk rock as a springboard, Joy dives into the everyday and the extraordinary. A touring musician based in Kansas City, Joy is a voice of authenticity, hope and joy. 

Joy's songwriting awards include an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and ten Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded six albums - three in Nashville and three in Kansas City. Joy released To the Girl, her sixth album of original music in April 2019.  joyzimmermanmusic.com

 

Note by Note: When You Are Gone to Me | No. 19 | 9.17.19 

When we begin a new job, marriage or friendship or join a band or a book club or move to a new city, we usually don’t spend much time imagining how it might end. Thankfully we jump in, head and heart first. 

But sometimes endings do come. Change, the curse and opportunity of being human, is inevitable. 

I had never lost a friendship until my divorce and our bitter church split, both of which occurred during the same season. This particular blend of devastation left me sobbing on the floor and sleeping in my coat. This particular blend of sorrow left unanswered, unresolved questions. 

As I began to emerge, I noted what we all know after deep loss--we are forever changed and forever grateful. 

“Growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that.” ~Ally Condie 

As I began to emerge, I wrote “When You Are Gone to Me”. Riva Capellari, my voice teacher at the time, helped me envision the journey of this simple lament. After the initial shock, you wrap yourself around the extent of your loss and then find your way forward with the losses and gifts woven into your fabric. 

How have you survived deep losses? Has your sorrow coexisted with gratitude? 

I am thankful for you, 

Joy 

When You Are Gone to Me

P.S. Dave Hoffner, a stellar pianist in Nashville (One of his claims to fame is the piano part on Michael Martin Murphey’s hit song, “Wildfire”), recorded this song with me. The experience was unforgettable. 

P.P.S. The footage for this video is from Oregon and the YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch in Colorado where my son Connor is spending a gap year.

Joy Zimmerman's soulful vocals and original music dance effortlessly from poignant to hilarious to compelling to joyful -- round-trip guaranteed! With folk rock as a springboard, Joy dives into the everyday and the extraordinary. A traveling musician based in Kansas City, Joy is a voice of authenticity, hope and joy. 

Joy's songwriting awards include an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and ten Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded six albums - three in Nashville and three in Kansas City. Joy released To the Girl, her sixth album of original music in April 2019.  joyzimmermanmusic.com

Note by Note: My'Rish Blessing | No. 18 | 8.15.19 

“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”  ~Toni Morrison 

Life is rich and raw, isn’t it? As brilliant, beloved author Toni Morrison showed us time and time again, beautiful moments coexist with heartbreak. We ride the waves as best we can, striving to end injustice and create more peace. 

After singing Irish Blessings at poignant events, I decided to attempt one--even though I'm not a bit Irish. The result is "My'Rish Blessing" which contains my wishes (and a bit of humor) for each of you. 

Here’s a live version from a recent evening in Oregon at J.L. Kiff Vineyard. The official version of “My’Rish Blessing” is the closer of my latest album, To the Girl. 

Thank you for being in my corner. I'm honored to be in yours. 

Joy 

Joy Zimmerman's soulful vocals and original music dance effortlessly from poignant to hilarious to compelling to joyful -- round-trip guaranteed! With folk rock as a springboard, Joy dives into the everyday and the extraordinary. A traveling musician based in Kansas City, Joy is a voice of authenticity, hope and joy. 

Joy's songwriting awards include an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and eight Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded six albums - three in Nashville and three in Kansas City. Joy released To the Girl, her sixth album of original music in April 2019.  joyzimmermanmusic.com

Note by Note: No Shortcut to Love | No. 17 | 7.23.19 

How do you envision the road map of your life? 
Have you followed a straight line or taken many twists and turns? Enjoyed some rest areas? 

En route home from Oregon (a.k.a. the land of milk and honey), I couldn’t help but relive our numerous hikes totaling close to 60 miles. Some trails were clearly marked while others left you guessing. One trail was a mile straight up and others were wide, level and cushioned by pine needles. 

As the Queen of Side Trips and Alternate Routes, I’ve had many jobs, relationships, travels, friends and challenges. All those side trips finally make sense with songwriting. All roads have led here. 

You don’t get to my age without learning and living lots of lessons. I threw many of these observations—along with the kitchen sink—into this song.  

Love and friendships in their many forms are hard work. Especially deep, sustaining relationships. With the inward and outward journey to find yourself and your people, there’s “No Shortcut to Love”. 

See you on the trail, 

Joy 

Joy Zimmerman's soulful vocals and original music dance effortlessly from poignant to hilarious to compelling to joyful -- round-trip guaranteed! With folk rock as a springboard, Joy dives into the everyday and the extraordinary. A traveling musician based in Kansas City, Joy is a voice of authenticity, hope and joy. 

Joy's songwriting awards include an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and eight Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded six albums - three in Nashville and three in Kansas City. Joy released To the Girl, her sixth album of original music in April 2019.  joyzimmermanmusic.com

Note by Note: Messy Girl | No. 16 | 6.5.19 

How messy are you? 

Me? A whole bunch. 

I distinctly remember the image that prompted Messy Girl. As I opened the rear door of my minivan, I surveyed the slew of dried-up snack fragments, mismatched sports equipment, miscellaneous papers, a rogue sock or two….and I knew dust bunnies ran amok and laundry baskets overflowed at home. 

I have a messy house and a messy mind 
I drive a messy car; I lead a messy life 
With a messy dog in this messy world 
I have a messy bed, I’m a messy, messy, messy girl 

Some of this was due, of course, to the condition known as Parenting Young Children. But now that I’ve tamed the dust bunnies and traded in the van with seatbelts gummed up by raisins, there’s still a larger issue: my messy mind. As many of you know, the creative mind is a messy one.  Boxes of lyric ideas, piles of songs and instruments to learn, and notebooks of project ideas and to-do lists await. 

In truth, everyone’s life is messy, no matter what your bent. No one’s life follows an exact plan. While some of us are more comfortable with the muck, there’s always more to do than we can accomplish in a day, more things to read and watch, more people to meet, more places to visit, more help to give than is possible. 

As I constantly seek new opportunities and a full calendar, I hear the whisper of Pulitzer-prize winning poet Mary Oliver: “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” 

Clarity is the antidote. Clarity is a gift. 

Do you know what brings you joy? Do you pause enough to reflect on the wonders of your past and the beauty around you? Where are you heading? 

Since time is certainly finite, be sure to figure out how you create meaning. Gather it and give it away. 

I want to come clean with you
Joy 

P.S. This is the jazziest song I’ve ever recorded or sung. And truth in advertising—those aren’t dishes in my sink. I’m not quite that messy.

 

Joy Zimmerman's soulful vocals and original music dance effortlessly from poignant to hilarious to compelling to joyful -- round-trip guaranteed! With folk rock as a springboard, Joy dives into the everyday and the extraordinary. A traveling musician based in Kansas City, Joy is a voice of authenticity, hope and joy. 

Joy's songwriting awards include an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and eight Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded six albums - three in Nashville and three in Kansas City. Joy released To the Girl, her sixth album of original music in April 2019.  joyzimmermanmusic.com


Note by Note: Plant Me a Tree | No. 15 | 5.19.19  

Have you ever taken a bath in the forest? 

As in “forest bathing”? As in retreating to nature to immerse yourself in its healing powers? 

Shrinrin-yoku forest therapy was developed in Japan during the 1980s as preventive health care. Researchers have since proven many benefits, including boosting the immune system, reducing blood pressure and stress, and improving mood and sleep. 

What’s not to love? So basic and intuitive -- we feel better when we are connected to nature. All that’s required is a slow, intentional walk in a forest or natural area. 

It’s like magic. I instantly gain perspective when I step into the woods. My challenges seem smaller and more manageable within the grand scope of life. 

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”   ~ John Muir 

After the devastating 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, friends from our church went to replant a small fraction of the 25,000 lost trees. Linda and I contributed a tree in her mom’s memory since she had grown up near Joplin and deeply loved nature. 

Our memorial tree was planted in Helen’s front yard to replace a tree that had brought great comfort after her husband’s death. The memory of Linda’s mom and Helen’s husband became intertwined in this walnut tree. I immediately thought of ways our sorrows and memories….struggles and triumphs…roots and branches are connected. In life. In disaster. In celebration. 

“Plant Me a Tree” is the result. 

And now we’ve learned that trees communicate – even warning and nourishing each other. Read The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wolleben and be amazed. 

Go outside whenever you can. Set it down. Open your senses. Breathe in the goodness. Give thanks for the natural world and the healing it brings. 

Hope to see you in the forest~ 

Joy 

P.S. Here’s a short video of nature, collaboration and creativity bringing healing to Joplin. 

Joplin video link

 

Joy Zimmerman's soulful vocals and original music dance effortlessly from poignant to hilarious to compelling to joyful -- round-trip guaranteed! With folk rock as a springboard, Joy dives into the everyday and the extraordinary. A traveling musician based in Kansas City, Joy is a voice of authenticity, hope and joy. 

Joy's songwriting awards include an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and eight Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded six albums - three in Nashville and three in Kansas City. Joy released To the Girl, her sixth album of original music in April 2019.  joyzimmermanmusic.com

 

Note by Note: Big and Wide as the Sky | No. 14 | 5.7.19 

This Mother’s Day will be particularly poignant as my youngest son graduates from high school two days later. The impending empty nest will mark an ending and a beginning. 

Parenting is so complex, so challenging, so life-altering that it almost defies description. Especially since each child is completely unique and we parents are different each day and stage of life. 

There are no precise roadmaps or perfect solutions…only trail guides, fellow travelers and open-hearted love. So much that it overwhelms you. 

I carry you deep in my heart that has grown big and wide as the sky. 

When you first hold your baby (unless your beloved child comes to you later), you cannot possibly know what will be required. The depth to which your heart can be full or broken…the ways you will feel intensely lost and found…the vast amount of time, resources and your whole self freely given… 

How could we know the changes our lives would undergo? Who could foresee the bravery each heart will need? 

I am a parent by adoption, birth and the blending of families. In every instance, I have been stretched. My growing edges have not always been pretty or neatly wrapped. When my boys were little, I remember ending conflicts with “Should we try again?”  Thankfully I’ve had many chances to try again. 

And thankfully I’ve had the honor of the hardest job possible. 

Whether you’re a parent, a treasured relative, teacher, coach or companion, you know the beauty and challenge of watching a child grow up and away. Their growth weaves together abiding love, the passage of time and the investment we have made in the future stretching before us… 

Then you’ll know the weight of a heart that has grown as big and wide as the sky. 

I’m excited to share the video Linda and I created for “Big and Wide as the Sky” – one of the new songs from my new album, To the Girl

With a full heart, thank you~ 

Joy  

Joy Zimmerman's soulful vocals and original music dance effortlessly from poignant to hilarious to compelling to joyful -- round-trip guaranteed! With folk rock as a springboard, Joy dives into the everyday and the extraordinary. A traveling musician based in Kansas City, Joy is a voice of authenticity, hope and joy. 

Joy's songwriting awards include an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and eight Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded six albums - three in Nashville and three in Kansas City. Joy released To the Girl, her sixth album of original music in April 2019.  joyzimmermanmusic.com   

 

Note by Note: Dear John or Jane | No. 13 | 4.18.19 

What were your favorite sounds from childhood? 

(I’ll give you a minute to ponder this…) 

My top picks include my mom playing piano downstairs as we went to sleep, the school librarian reading us another chapter, Stevie Wonder singing as we danced, kids calling out to invite me to roller skate or play kickball, typewriter keys tapping as my mom typed my dad’s graduate school papers… 

I’m old enough that this particular typewriter was a beautiful, black classic model and heavy as an anchor. It once belonged to my grandfather. 

The cadence of those keys and the frequent chime of the return led me to write a song with the typewriter as its foundation. I started by finding a rhythm on typewriter keys and then launching into a break-up song. 

After remembering an expression I first heard in college -- “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” -- I thought of other ill-fated images, and I was off to the races. 

A big thanks to my stepdaughter, Samantha Wilkinson, for helping us create this video. It was lots of fun to find the assorted images and figure out how to depict the psychedelic guitar solo. 

I hope you enjoy it too. 

And see whether you can conjure up some of those treasured childhood sounds… 

Let’s not break up, 

Joy 

P.S. Speaking of childhood, I’ve just released a brand new album called To the Girl. You can find more information on my website: joyzimmermanmusic.com. As you might imagine, I’ll be blogging and videoing about the songs soon.

 

Joy Zimmerman is a soulful singer-songwriter known for compelling vocals, inventive songs, and captivating performances. A traveling musician based in Kansas City, Joy released To the Girl, her sixth album of original music, on April 5, 2019.  Joy is a multi-instrumentalist whose eclectic music might be best described as folk rock with extra helpings of other favorite genres. 

Joy's songwriting awards include an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and eight Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded three albums in Nashville and three in Kansas City.

Note by Note: The One I Love | No. 12 | 4.1.19 

Note by Note: The One I Love | No. 12 | 4.1.19 

Do you cringe when you hear a favorite song turned into elevator music or a dance mix or sung by the Chipmunks or Weird Al? Or do you enjoy it? Many of us feel protective of the songs we love. The original performances and the arrangement feel sacred. 

But sometimes we welcome a re-fashioning…a different singer, perhaps in a different tempo or genre, perhaps changed to an instrumental rendition. Swapping a female for a male singer or vice versa might lead us to a new experience of the lyrics. An instrumental version might amplify the beauty of the melody. 

Whether such changes enhance or detract from the original song is your call, of course, since music is completely subjective. 

If you like mixing it up, you might want to check out SecondHandSongs (www.secondhandsongs.com) which has catalogued 85,987 originals and 694,166 covers. This website invites you to “Discover the Original” and “Listen to the Cover” with a link to both. For example, you can compare “Respect” by Otis Redding with Aretha Franklin’s version. 

I also found a listing of the 100 Greatest Cover Songs and Remakes on the web. Such a list can lead you to discover that a classic was first released (and maybe written) by someone you have never heard of. 

Taking on the challenge of remaking a favorite song, here’s my version of R.E.M.’s “The One I Love”. My son, Ryan Dugan, joined me in this entirely different vibe as different (younger) versions of ourselves: 

What two (or three) versions of the same song do you enjoy? Can you imagine one of your favorite songs in a new tempo or genre? 

Here’s to originality and evolution! 

Joy 

P.S. Speaking of R.E.M., have you ever seen this Sesame Street retake of “Shiny Happy People”? 

P.P.S. Speaking of Sesame Street, might I also suggest “Letter B”? 

 

Joy Zimmerman is a soulful singer-songwriter known for compelling vocals, inventive songs, and captivating performances. A traveling musician based in Kansas City, Joy is releasing “To the Girl”, her sixth album of original music on April 5, 2019.  Joy is a multi-instrumentalist whose eclectic music might be best described as folk rock with extra helpings of other favorite genres. 

Joy's songwriting awards include an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and eight Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded three albums in Nashville and three in Kansas City. 

More information available at joyzimmermanmusic.com

Note by Note: To the Girl | No. 11 | 3.25.19 

“Art is how we decorate space, music is how we decorate time.”  ~Jean-Michel Basquiat 

While still a novice at guitar and solo singing, I wrote “To the Girl” to my younger self. I felt an overwhelming desire to tell my little girl self that all would be well somehow. The song poured out-- using all the guitar chords that I knew. 

At the time I was in the midst of many struggles…unaware, of course, of the mighty struggles that lay ahead. Still, I knew that all roads had led to that moment. Playing in a band, songwriting, and combining social work with music had opened new pathways. I felt lit up. I wanted that little girl to know.   

“To the Girl” is the title track of my new album to be released on April 5th and debuted on April 11th. Its songs celebrate love, taking chances, the wisdom of time, and finding your passion. I can’t wait to share them with you. 

I wonder which songs will speak to you… 

What would you say to yourself as a child if you had a chance? Where are your roads leading? 

All the best to you—with gratitude, 

Joy 

P.S. We wanted to bring you into the studio, so Linda made two videos. The first one focuses on the sounds of the recording process and the second one on the people who made it happen! 

Recording video: The Sounds of Music

Recording video: In a Minute and a Half

Joy Zimmerman is a soulful singer-songwriter known for compelling vocals, inventive songs, and captivating performances. A traveling musician based in Kansas City, Joy is releasing “To the Girl”, her sixth album of original music on April 5, 2019.  Joy is a multi-instrumentalist whose eclectic music might be best described as folk rock with extra helpings of other favorite genres. 

Joy's songwriting awards include an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention and eight Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded three albums in Nashville and three in Kansas City. 

More information available at joyzimmermanmusic.com