Atlanta-based singer/songwriter Joanna Duff (www.joannaduff.rocks) talks songwriting, the recent release of her first album, and the story behind her .ROCKSwebsite in this week’s My Side of the Dot™.
I started the process of recording an album with small intentions. I simply wanted to document some of the songs I had written over the years. You know, the whole "for posterity's sake" thing. So I could say I did it. I've been writing songs for years, I play shows now and again, I have friends that come. They bring their friends. We all have fun. Sometimes people ask me where they can hear my music. I never had the time. Or the resources. Really, all I had were excuses. Years went by, I still played, never recorded. And one day I thought - What the hell am I waiting for? So I started recording four songs in August 2014. I spent some weekends, weeknights at the studio working on the recordings. And then on October 19, 2014 something happened that changed everything. My Dad passed away.
Losing my Dad was a defining moment in my life. Defining in that my life will never be the same. Defining because that date will always haunt me, it will always be significant, not from happiness, but from heartbreak. And defining in that I knew it was a moment that deserved pen to paper. Begged for it as part of the healing process. That is what songwriting is all about, right? I wrote so many words almost instantly about that moment, the time after, processing all the feelings that came next. Out came a song called "Daddy" that I am really proud of. A couple months after that, as I found myself thinking about him as I often do every day, I started thinking about his death from a different perspective. The words again came very easily as I found myself writing what I felt my dad would tell my mom if he could. This song became "We Were the Lucky Ones." I instantly knew I wanted to record both of those songs for the album. The project went from a four song EP to an eight song album. It became a distraction from grief, part of the healing. And I knew it must be named "We Are the Lucky Ones," a play on that song's title.
I think the title is perfect. It is the message that I want to put out into the world. That despite all the heartbreak in life, we always have reasons to feel lucky. They can be simple, silly even. Sometimes I feel lucky when my morning commute takes half the time it normally does. I surely feel lucky for the 34 years I had with my Dad and the relationship we were able to form. I feel lucky for the family I am blessed to still have on this earth. I'm so thankful for past disappointments that have shaped my life and put me where I need to be. I recall fond memories of growing up on the street I did, with the kids I met at the age of four, many of whom I still call friends. I surely feel lucky for this project and the healing it has given me over the past year. I feel lucky for all the people involved (Sean McPherson who mixed and recorded the album, all the musicians who worked on these songs with me, my family & friends who provided feedback and support along the way). And sometimes I hear stories from others that inspire, make me smile. Make me feel lucky. Because again, despite the way life breaks our hearts, #WeAreTheLuckyOnes.