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Rebecca Martin: Paradox Of Continuity

By Published: December 25, 2006

AAJ: Sometimes it's kind of shrouded. There's one tune where it's way out front.

RM: Right. But it's funny. I think it's not easy to go in and speak about really truthful things. It's really not. It's also difficult because how do you do that artfully too? I don't want to be preaching about anything to anybody about anything. I would just like to try to accomplish saying something that feels meaningful to me on whatever level I can do at that time that may make someone else stop and think about that feeling, or [how] that subject makes them truly feel. To have a private intimate moment with something where nobody judges you, nobody needs to know what you're thinking. So that you have the freedom to do that if you want to, to think about things that are more important.

I think about dying all the time. To me dying is not dark. It's no darker than birthing to me. It's all part of the human experience and I'm curious about it and am curious to keep it close in my daily life so that when it comes time it's not such a foreign thing [because] I've been thinking about it. I've seen people die. I've had people close to me die. It's not a new thing. I haven't experienced it a ton. Except that in my life too I've had all sorts of mini-deaths already. Big, big shifts and changes where things ended and started again. I've had a lot of practice at trying to avoid that. To hold onto this so that it doesn't change, it doesn't change, it doesn't change. But I actually create more chaos than is already present for change. Creating more chaos for the chaos.

I think chaos is necessary for change. But you can escalate it or kind of observe it and not react to it. Reacting is the key thing really. Just to watch things before you respond or react. To me this is all part of life that is not dark. It's scary only because we have to have faith, and I don't mean religious faith. I mean we have to have faith that everything is going to be okay and to trust that everything is okay; that things aren't really good or bad. Those ideas create real friction between people and in our own experiences of things.

It's like saying, "Oh that's jazz. Well, what if it's not only jazz? What if it's also got a little pop in there? Maybe a little reggae in there? And all these things that I'm saying just diminish, maybe, the real experience of hearing something without trying to figure out what it is. Which is a control for it. We're always looking to control everything/anything. Because we think if we control it then we can understand it. It's like the simplicity of religion to me. And I'm all about religion. It's not a judgment at all. But you can't understand living and dying by believing in heaven or hell. I don't quite understand how that makes people feel more comforted.

AAJ: It seems to me you write about some of that stuff in your new songs. And in some of your songs on People Behave Like Ballads there are some references to religion. You don't specify—well, there's one tune where you specify a certain religion but you seem to be getting at it in a more general sense.

RM: Right, yeah—"If Only. I guess my question is if you can believe in heaven or hell without ever experiencing heaven or hell, [with it being] only something that's written—and I don't mean to disrespect any of that, I don't—then why is it so hard to believe in maybe something more incredible? Or maybe nothing? I don't mean to sound like an atheist either because I believe in something. But I don't think that whatever it is is something that we can totally understand.

I mean, I birthed and I enjoyed my birth and it was hard work. But there's so much of that day that I don't remember. Which is typical. A lot of women say that. But the feeling was something I'll never forget. And the things that I don't remember I almost imagine as, well, I actually touched base with something so massive. Like all the secrets I had to get in touch with in order to be open and allow my son through. But it's not meant for me to hold onto in this life day to day. I just think that the possibilities are endless and massive and fun to think about. I'm not afraid of thinking about those things.

I'm also not judging anybody for not thinking about those things by maybe simplifying the way that they live. Everybody needs different things. I do get upset about judgment. I think people judge and forget that nobody knows. Nobody knows. So anybody's beliefs really are personal and important and everybody should be able to have whatever they need to get through their days without being judged or criticized. I don't like that at all.

AAJ: The idea of nobody knowing is important for me as well. I think that comes out in your writing too. A lot of these [new] lyrics and some of the stuff on your Ballads record are open-ended.

RM: People say, "there's so much ambiguity in your lyrics. [But] it's because I don't know. Who knows? I can only try to describe to you an experience that I had, or several experiences that I've had, and more about the feeling that I had. That's the important thing to me.

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