Upon your lips you kept her kiss
And washed it down with lily grass
You’re married to your best of friends
With good clean love like isinglass
Midnight courtships on the porch
You put the proof upon her lips
And smashed the smoldering ash with fists
To make it meek and wild with bliss
Eyelets on the pillowcase
Fabric that you’re a part of
‘Neath the folds of her keep
The must for hibernating
is a Nashville-based musician, songwriter, and composer, recently awarded the Next Big Nashville Emerging Artist Award for 2009. Her latest album, Go Easy Little Doves, debuted at #1 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Chart in October 2009. Citing influences from Chopin to Simon & Garfunkel, Waggoner’s songs are striking for their ability to range from full-bodied and experimental to tender and stripped down. “Meek; Wild,” featured here, is taken from Go Easy Little Doves. In addition to writing the score for the forthcoming short film The Inventor, Waggoner is gearing up to release a live dvd/art piece entitled And the World Opened Up with live concert footage and animation. www.brookewaggoner.com – Zachary Greenberg
Greenberg: With songs like “Meek; Wild,” “Chromates Soft Love,” and “Wonder-Dummied,” you seem to have a penchant for tying seemingly disparate elements together. Can you speak to this artistic and philosophical interest?
Waggoner: I love so many different types of music. Growing up on musicals and film scores, mixed with oh-so-many classical piano lessons, spending time in Indonesia doing ethnomusicologist research projects, playing in college rock bands, and loving the independent show scene—all of these things are infused in my passion for writing. I thrive on the idea of throwing as many things into one song as I can without being tacky and underdeveloped. I strongly feel that most people can handle more than what’s traditionally thrown at them—the idea of challenging yet emotionally connecting and not over-stimulating is always the goal.
Greenberg: Can you talk about your relationship to literature and poetry and how that has influenced your songwriting, or even your composing?
Waggoner: Poetry is becoming more and more of a large influence. I took a Poetry 101 course a few years back and it was incredible. Delving into the rhythm and rhyme of phonetics and seeing that words and effective communication is a must. I was a huge reader as a child but now have to really carve out time to read extensively—it’s becoming more and more a priority though. One needs to stay sharp! I love language and how intricate it is. This is the perfect “detail” and “embellishment” to any piece of music.
Greenberg: What literary or musical influences leave you “wonder-dummied“?
Waggoner: Pablo Neruda always makes me want to try harder. Old diary entries and prayer journals from martyrs really seem to get my brain churning—such intense depth and a cry for what’s to come get my emotions flaring. I adore the book A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes—you don’t get a better use of a well-educated vocabulary than that.
Greenberg: While I’m certain it varies, can you describe your go-to process in putting lyrics and music together?
Waggoner: I used to be much more random about it—scribbling notes on napkins, and gum wrappers, my hands, receipts… anything I could find! But it’s now become a bit more organized. I have a great old upright piano at my house and that’s pretty much the only place I write nowadays. I keep a book and pencil next to it at all times and write down the things that come to mind while writing the music. They are now going a bit more hand-in-hand, whereas it used to always be the music and melody first, followed by the lyrics.
Greenberg: One of the aims of Nashville Review is to showcase Nashville as the true music city it is, one that stretches far beyond traditional country music. What has your experience been like as a musician/pianist/composer based in Nashville?
Waggoner: My first year in Nashville (almost 4 years ago) was one of excitement and surprise to find a city so full of song-lovers. People here believe in a good tune with good verse and it was a joy to play live. The fact that industry is here (albeit fairly small in the greater scheme of commercial non-country music industry) really opened up some doors and enabled me to ultimately do what I love for a living. I’ll always be grateful to Nashville for that. Every city has its own scene and within that scene are niches and pockets. You just have to find yours and make it your own.
Greenberg: As a poet I have to admit I’m excited and impressed with your choice of the semi-colon for “Meek; Wild,” something we don’t see a lot in music. Can you speak to this decision?
Waggoner: Haha. That’s hilarious!
Yes, I’m a fan of proper grammar when it comes to song titles. I also tend to splice a good bit of words together and have often used hyphens in my titles as well. As for the semi-colon, it adds just the right amount of breathe between the two words. The lyrics for this song were written about a month before my husband proposed to me. At this point I was feeling timid and meek about the possibility of marriage and the adventures of the unknown to come, but was also wild with excitement of belonging to another for the first and only time. The title is also centering around the idea of the opening line that refers to a goodnight kiss on the front porch—being coy and graceful with it yet full of life and passion.
Greenberg: Is there anything you’d like to add about “Meek; Wild,” or your most recent album Go Easy Little Doves? Do you have any upcoming projects for us to look forward to?
The record Go Easy Little Doves ultimately became a documenting process of the stages of emotion pertaining to true love—a once in a lifetime experience. I’ll never be able to make another record like that one—it’s very special to me.
As for upcoming projects, I’m gearing up to release a live dvd/art piece in late summer/early fall 2010 entitled And the World Opened Up, with live concert footage filmed at Art House America in Nashville and lovely animation from the London-based animator Sam Moppett.