Humour is often used to deal with serious topics and this is the case in the next song I give you. Female empowerment is a topic that has so many aspects and impacts all women regardless of race, place and background. This next song has definitely been written with a sense of fun, humour and swing but it still has punch and meaning beneath the fun and it’s fusion style of delivery.
You are probably wondering what on earth is a “Tara Dakini Girl”? In the song it is kind of self explanatory but I will give a brief outline of what I mean here. I have fused together three archetypes into one . Tara is a female Buddha, she is called mother Tara and she has many different manifestations. She can be fiercely compassionate, a creator of dynamic action yet wise. Many women- like me- are mothers, and sometimes empowerment is furthered or restrained because of this . A Dakini is a Tibetan buddhist term referring to a blissful, enlightened, sometimes wild and totally empowered female. I use “Girl “ here as however old we become it is important to keep a youthful and flexible outlook on life. Together these fuse into one powerful aspiration of power, strength, love, flexibility, fearlessness, compassion and wisdom. I totally aim for that- even if I fall humanly short of this!
I also wrote this song in response to all my obstacles that arise around trying to develop as an older female songwriter. It strikes me that for the large part the music industry has not yet woken up to the fact that women who are mothers, starting a career after a child care break, women who are poor and women who live RURALLY may have something to offer in this artistic arena. There is little out there in the way of financial support or packages of development in this field for the above category of artists. Particularly for those who are in all those categories! I know- because I fit all these categories and despite interest and support from an international producer ( Mick Glossop who produced Van Morrison) – still find no processes or packages to further my work. So, I do it, largely alone, so far, and in so doing I find I have to empower myself and learn a shadow of these amazing qualities outlined above. Resilience, strength, patience, compassion, vision and fearlessness.
So this song is about female strength- but not brittleness or bullishness. It talks about a strength built around flexibility, insight, kindness and wisdom. I chose these archetypes because I am a buddhist and therefore I am deeply familiar with what these images mean. I also think that these eastern female archetypes have more roundedness and strength than some western ones so I prefer them as working models of what I am trying to get across.
Also this is a song for all women- all over the world- so it works to have an archetype that speaks to those in other cultures too.
It is not just about the obstacles I face in becoming a song writer- but the obstacles and limitations of poverty that I experience on a daily level- stressful, limiting and tiring. This is true for many women and negatively impacts the lives of so many people and families all over the world.
Here are the lyrics of the song :
I want to be Tara Dakini Girl
Tara Dakini Girl
Not a woman of iron
Nor a woman of steel
But a woman of flexible gold, flexible gold
Who can dance right over life’s grit.
I want to laugh at life’s consternation
And smile at life’s butchering hand
That throws troubles in my path, troubles in my path
And be quiet in the face of a storm, storm.
And watch my loving grow, my loving grow.
I want to feel the bliss of wisdom
From my head right down to my toes
Sing out my strength, sing out my wisdom, wisdom.
In all that I say and do
And watch my wisdom grow, watch my wisdom grow.
In terms of melody this song is a complete fusion…there is a swingy bluesy jazz feel, a folky feel combined with nuances of eastern ornamentation on certain words (Dakini, wisdom, storm). It has a sense of lightness, fun and movement. I have no idea what key I wrote it in as it is deliberately fluid touching lightly on an eastern scale structure – on the ornamented words. It starts with an inverted arpeggiated jazz chord ( C, Eb, A , G) which is striking yet playful. It uses middle C as it’s continual touch stone. As I have no means to collaborate with other musicians I have so far imagined a little of how it could be arranged instrumentally. There could be a ongoing drone of a tamboura based on middle C- giving it that gentle eastern/world edge. There would be a guitar using a fluid progressive mix of chords that could be folky/slightly jazzy/touched with an eastern twinge. For a piece of fun some of the lines could be echoed by a saxophone which could then develop into a small instrumental section where the guitar and saxophone played and explored the themes/motifs together. The overall tapestry of sound would be a harmonic mix of combined instruments/sounds which would create a sense of rich strength, interest, quirkiness yet lightness. The structure starts with the refrain- something I do a lot in my songs- as I feel it creates a symbolic touchstone to keep returning to.
I look forward to one day recording it and working with other people on this song and playing it in public to make people smile and feel a sense of happy strength!
In my search to create that occasional brush of an eastern feel I found a western lady who plays the Indian harmonium ( she has played it on some of my other tracks) but she also knows about Indian scales. So, I took this song to her, so I could learn some of these scales in order to ornament these words with some authenticity. There are hundreds of Indian scales- so many it is bamboozling ! There is even one for a Dakini !
It was great fun learning this scale….and the approach to singing is different to. Indian singing is very meditative, singing each scale note from a different chakra point giving each note of the scale a different energy and resonance. I totally loved it and would like to learn more someday as a singer. With my background in meditation and a chant leader I took to it, like a duck to water. This lady, loved the song – she said it makes her smile every time she hears it and gives her an inner chuckle! Can’t be bad!
I truthfully have not dared sing this song accapella in public…partly because I need a guitar to give me the inverted starting arpeggio…and partly because the song is such a playful exploration of the theme through the voice and instrumentation working together, that it would basically not really work as an experience for the listener. At the very least, I would need a guitarist…..
So…. My becoming “Tara Dakini Girl” is still a work in progress, as is the finished version of the song, as is my progress as an emerging female/rural/older singer songwriter. One day it would be cool to sing it in concert with a sense of some of these being achieved (I think it might take me more than several lifetimes to reach this archetypal mix of qualities!). To sing it as an empowered successful songwriter as a voice for other women/people would be really something. Achievement against the face of many odds. “Sock it to the man!”