by Joy Zimmerman

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

Note by Note: Sweet Bird | No. 10 | 3.10.19 

Spring is coming….really, it is. 

As you and I have struggled with the ice and snow of this frigid winter, how have those tiny birds survived? 

And how do each of us survive turbulent times? I was convinced during one of the darkest periods of my life that songbirds were calling directly to me. Their simple, repetitive, insistent songs reassured me as I lay in the darkness unable to sleep. The sun would rise, and so would I, to face whatever lay ahead. 

I wrote “Sweet Bird” as a love song to those hardy creatures of hope. 

Sweet bird, sing your song, sweet bird 

Sweet bird, you need no words, sweet bird 

Songs of darkness, songs of dawn 

Inviting us to carry on 

Wake the world, sweet bird 

Brad Sneed, a dear friend, author and illustrator, painted a female cardinal for us. Both Brad and the cardinal star in this video. Be sure to watch Brad’s time lapse painting at the end and check out his website at www.BradSneed.com. 

What or who encourages you in dark times? What will you do when the weather warms? 

Here’s to the renewal of spring and to the resilience of birds…and each of us! 

Joy 

P.S. Here’s a great article (from a great website) entitled “How Do Birds Survive Winter?” http://www.birdsleuth.org/how-do-birds-survive-winter/ 

Hint: Sometimes survival involves a big change in brain size or body temperature—wow! 

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 currently working on “To the Girl”, her sixth album of original music.  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 two in Kansas City. 

More information available at joyzimmermanmusic.com

Note by Note : Let It Be | No. 9 | 2.25.19  

It seemed a big advantage to have a last name that began with “Z’. Seated alphabetically, I often had time to rehearse my answers before the teacher called on me. So I wouldn’t make a mistake. 

I remember reading ahead quickly to practice the section I’d be reading out loud to the class. So I wouldn’t make a mistake. 

Even my kindergarten teacher said in a report card, “Joy doesn’t need to try so hard to be perfect.” 

Fast forward to the fall of 2017…. 

After playing the opening set, I was enjoying the performance of Ellis Paul, a nationally renowned singer/songwriter, at the Green Guitar Folk Series. As the audience called for an encore, Ellis walked over and invited me to join him on “Let It Be”. 

A complete surprise. No time to practice. No time to check any lyrics. No turning back. 

And when Ellis suggested we step off stage and sing in the midst of the crowd, no mics. 

Paul McCartney explains the inspiration for “Let It Be” with a catch in his throat on Carpool Karaoke. He recounts how his deceased mother, Mary, appeared to him in a dream and spoke those seminal words. 

On the title track of my upcoming album, “To the Girl”, I send words of comfort to that conscientious young girl. 

May we all say “yes” on a lark. May we sing out. And beyond any mistakes, may the spirit of our experiences carry us into our next “yes”... 

Let It Be, friends-- 

Joy 

P.S. If you’re in Kansas City, I highly recommend the Green Guitar Folk Series: Green Guitar Folk 

I’m honored to be in the line-up again on Saturday, October 12th. 

P.P.S. If you've somehow missed Paul McCartney’s Carpool Karaoke, watch it as soon as you can: Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke

 

 

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 currently working on “To the Girl”, her sixth album of original music.  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 two in Kansas City. 

More information available at joyzimmermanmusic.com

Note by Note: Crazy In Need | No. 8  | February 10, 2019 

“Love is the most universal, the most tremendous, and the most mysterious of the cosmic forces.”   ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 

Who and what do you love to your core? 

How do you put that love into words...or music…or art…or food…or projects…or donations…or…? 

You might say everything we do is motivated somehow by love. While romantic love commands most of the spotlight, our lives are full of all sorts of deep love. 

Throughout the centuries, people have attempted to describe the full-on, full-body experience of love. Isn’t it delicious when someone else’s depiction of love speaks eloquently to and for us? We can’t get enough. 

But even then, we’re only scratching the surface. Countless poems, songs, paintings, sculptures, photographs try to describe the indescribable…try to tame the vastness…try to capture a piece of the infinite. 

Annie Leibovitz’s Yoko Ono & John Lennon 

Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese 

Bob Dylan/Adele’s Make You Feel My Love 

Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings 

Camille Claudel’s Vertumnus and Pomona 

Roberto Begnini's Life is Beautiful 

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s one of my attempts. Crazy In Need was co-written with Jan Linder-Koda (over Skype no less!) and recorded in Los Angeles. 

 

What are you favorite depictions of love? What love language(s) do you speak? What’s better than being in love with the world? 

Viva l’amour in its many forms! 

Joy 

P.S. I love including friends in musical projects…from contributing photos for videos and album covers to singing in a choir on my new record, sharing song suggestions, and participating in the big feedback loop of live performances. Enjoy the photos many of you submitted for this video! 

 

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 currently working on “To the Girl”, her sixth album of original music.  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 - the latest, To the Girl, will be released in April 2019. 

Crazy In Need and other songs are available on CDBaby, iTunes, Spotify and Amazon Music Unlimited. joyzimmermanmusic.com 

Note by Note: Will You Stand With Me | No. 7 | 1.21.19 

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”  ~Eleanor Roosevelt 

I almost quit guitar lessons about twelve years ago. Between Mom duties, two or three part-time jobs, graduate school, band practice, major league volunteering, etc., there wasn’t enough time to practice. And frankly, guitar was kicking my butt. 

As many of you know, it’s humbling to be an adult learner. Being a pretty accomplished violinist -- as well as a card-carrying perfectionist -- made it painful to fumble around on the guitar. And I wasn’t finding time to make much progress. 

Close to quitting (and saving face), a friend asked me to consider a job at a residential treatment facility. I would lead a youth choir, play music for the weekly worship service, and lead musical activities for 5 to 12-year-olds who were hospitalized for mental health and behavioral issues. 

I really wanted to be the person who could do that job, but I was still struggling to sing and play guitar at the same time. Plus I had never done anything remotely like this. 

Wrestling my fears, I determined to live into this challenge. I’m still not sure exactly how I put two and two together, especially given the tough crowd. But taking that job and persevering with the guitar led to countless opportunities and new paths. 

Sometimes we see turning points loud and clear, and other times we ease into them without knowing…. 

Today’s video is a shout-out to all who have stood with me and to those who stand with each other when the going gets tough. 

When have major turning points occurred in your life? What new things(s) are you itching to learn? 

All the best—with gratitude, 

Joy 

  

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”  ~Andy Rooney 

For inspiration, I recommend reading Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brene Brown…or really any of her books.

 

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 currently working on “To the Girl”, her sixth album of original music.  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 nine Walnut Valley Festival NewSong Showcase wins. She has recorded three albums in Nashville and two in Kansas City. 

More information available at joyzimmermanmusic.com

Note by Note: The Firefly | No. 6 | 1.5.19  

“Growing pains are not just for the young…” 

While experiencing those uncomfortable pangs once again, this line became the genesis of “The Firefly”. I was reminded of fireflies kept too long in mason jars. Did you also gather up fireflies as a child? And sometimes leave them behind when you moved on to flashlight tag? 

I have learned to listen to discomfort. Although I don’t always see the next steps clearly, I now recognize signs that I’m getting ready to shed old skin and take on new, unforeseen challenges. 

Some of the best things have happened when I leapt into the darkness without knowing the next chapter. 

It can take a long time to find yourself….to understand the undercurrents and find your deepest passions. (For inspiration, read “For a New Beginning” by John O’Donohue below.) 

I eventually discovered that mine include songwriting and playing music. All roads have led here—all those seemingly insignificant side trips, major highways, thickly wooded paths, and dark alleys lit only by a single bulb. 

As we launch into a new year, what are your deepest passions? How will you say “yes”? What is waiting beyond the mason jar for you? 

All the best to you and yours in 2019 – with gratitude, 

Joy 

For a New Beginning 

In out-of-the-way places of the heart, 

Where your thoughts never think to wander, 

This beginning has been quietly forming, 

Waiting until you were ready to emerge. 

 

For a long time it has watched your desire, 

Feeling the emptiness growing inside you, 

Noticing how you willed yourself on, 

Still unable to leave what you had outgrown. 

 

The delight, when your courage kindled, 

And out you stepped onto new ground, 

Your eyes young again with energy and dream, 

A path of plentitude opening before you. 

 

Though your destination is not yet clear 

You can trust the promise of this opening; 

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning 

That is at one with your life’s desire. 

 

Awaken your spirit to adventure; 

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk; 

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm 

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.                                                         

                                                            ~ John O’Donohue 

                                                            www.johnodonohue.com