North End of Town – Song Story

I asked my friend Alisa to record my song, North End of Town, while I was playing at the annual Art + Roses festival on June 3rd. It has quite the song journey since I first began to write it when I lived in the Boise North End during my college years. I never quite finished the song although I’d pick it up every so often and work on it, but since I was no longer living in town it wasn’t quite happening. Guess I just needed a little inspiration which unexpectedly came to me in the summer of 2005 when Stan and I had taken our cruiser bikes downtown to have dinner and tool around the neighborhood. We were thinking of moving back into Boise from Meridian and were spending more and more time in and near the Boise Foothills which played a part in providing the muse I needed to bring this song to the front of my music set.

That particular evening we hitched our bikes to a tree and shared a pizza at Lucky 13 which used to be on the corner of 13th and Eastman. Marcus Eaton was playing music in the street and everywhere we looked there were people milling around in the sunshine – some with kids and dogs, some with their favorite brew, everyone content. It was such a happy mess of humanity and time stood still for a spell. Over dinner we talked again about how we really needed to try to find a little place in the North End and the steps it would take to make that happen. We both loved the ambience of one of Boise’s oldest quarters and the fact we’d be so close to the Foothills and the Greenbelt that links all the parks with access to the River which happens to flow through town. And to think that any event we wanted to attend would just be a bike ride away! As it was, everytime we wanted to go for a scenic ride we had to pack up our bikes, sit through Meridian traffic, and then drive 20 minutes to Boise. But it wasn’t just about the bike riding, Boise was calling to us because we were in a transitional season of our lives and we sensed a change would really do us good.

After dinner we rode around town till dark and my old unfinished North End song wouldn’t leave my mind. Later while I was humming the perky little tune, I dug it out again to see if I could breathe new life into it. Much to my surprise, the words flowed freely, thanks to our recent excursion, and each new verse easily complimented the next. I was already happy with the original melody and format, so I guess all it needed was a magical experience and a new spark toward a dream.

Speaking of dream, I never would have guessed that finishing the North End of Town would then became a muse for our move to town. Every time I sang it, I felt it was like a prayer. 2 years later we were settled in a little cottage up on the Bench by the Boise Train Depot. I admit, the Bench isn’t exactly the North End, but it’s still just about a bike ride south of town – which is another song story for another day. For now let’s just say real estate on the Bench is more affordable and made our move possible. Sometimes your dreams don’t work out exactly as first pictured but you end up living the dream, nevertheless, and often with an even brighter outcome.

A few more songwriting details before I forget: The early lyrics were penned through the eyes of a 20 year-old and the latter through my eyes in 2005. It’s amazing how the 2 perspectives coincide. Perhaps it’s a nod to ‘authentic me’ which has always been partial to the back streets of a cozy neighborhood. It’s like the young me and ‘seasoned’ me agree. Perhaps I caught a glimpse of college-girl me on 13th Street that day. Now that it’s 2012 I think she’d tell me I made the right decision to freeze the song in 2005. I mention Lucky 13 instead of the Sunray Cafe which stands in its place and every once in awhile I wonder if I should write in the update. But if I did, I wouldn’t be able to use the line “…Lucky 13, such the happening scene – and if you can find a seat, indeed you are lucky!” which makes me smile every time I sing it. After all, it was the venue that hosted the summer evening that inspired us to take steps toward one of our dreams instead of just talking about it.

By the way, Lucky 13 is thriving since it moved out to Harris Ranch. It’s a perfect destination for a longer bike ride to dinner.

Ok, enough song story for now. Hope you still have time to listen!

Small Matters

This song was inspired by a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson which I include in the song: “What lies behind us – what lies before us – are small matters compared to what lies within us”. Song concept is that what lies within us is worth fighting for – to take time to process what’s past for a hopeful and brighter future. C 2011 NancyKellyMusic

Empty Bowls

I donated music to the Idaho Food Bank for their Empty Bowls Event held at The Grove Plaza on Nov 26th. This is a little movie I made featuring my song Red Dress which is on my Christmas CD. My good friend Alisa Costa held the camera while I sang! Thank you Alisa! More on the story below the video.

It was tempting to not show up at the Empty Bowls event the day after Thanksgiving. I was scheduled to play a set at 2pm but the weather, although 20 degrees warmer than Tuesday, still threatened to be cold and blustery. I wasn’t just worried about my own comfort however; I also had misgivings about exposing my Yamaha keyboard to extreme cold. As long as it didn’t snow or rain, I figured it could survive for up to an hour, but I was apprehensive nevertheless.

Another reason I was tempted to stay in, the day after Thanksgiving is traditionally a replenishing day for me. I like to wake up slow, putter around and tidy up the house a bit, decorate, go for a walk. So to rouse myself to play music outside just didn’t have the romantic allure it did when I said I would donate my time. But I have to admit, when I thought of the food bank people working all day outside, the least I could do was show up for an hour and play.

So, bundled up like a Michelen man, I helped Stan load the keyboard into the car and we drove downtown. We double parked on 9th Street with our flashers on and wheeled the piano to the stage which was a flat bed on wheels provided by Admagination Studios. Tom Frazee was thankfully there to help me set up and do the sound. He would also be announcing me and I found out he is nicknamed ‘the voice of God” because he has such a powerful baritone – and I can see why! Woweezow!

It was also great to see Tom’s partner Nancy Roache. The paper said she was on the lineup for music too. I remember both Tom and Nancy from when I played the Boise River Festival events. Stan and I were recently reminiscing about how they organized the music for that event each year and it was amazing!

Anyway, I’m glad to say I played my set with relative ease, although my fingers didn’t cooperate as well toward the end, so the simplified version to those last 2 songs seemed to do the trick.

During one of my songs a tall thin man with a handwritten “Homeless” sign stood by and listened for awhile. I was thinking when I sang to him that if I made the trek down the hill just for that one song for that one man, it was worth it. Too bad I didn’t think to video him or snap his photo but I guess the serenade was what I was there for anyway. I trust he got some soup!

I haven’t found out what the Food Bank raised that day but I hope they made their goal. They were competing with the busiest shopping day of the year as well as bad weather, so they did well just to be there to get the job done!

Heart of a Friend

This post is the song-story to Heart of a Friend – a continuem on the topic of True Friendship. The lyrics are annotated within the video.


I once knew a man who made public statements about his Good Friend So-and-So who happened to be a famous musician, as well as how he hung out with other great friends who were in prominent positions. But when you delved a little deeper into his world, you found that he was stretching it a bit about his friendship with them. In fact, ‘acquaintance’ was a more apt description of their relationship. He did this so often that we began to suspect he had some sort of insecurity disorder. Since it became obvious that none of us were important enough to be his friend, why did he even feel the need to prove his worth (to us) by proclaiming his friendship with celebrity types? 

One time back in the mid-90’s, we were all on our way to a park for an event. The above-mentioned man was attending too, but when he saw us as we were walking into the park, he walked right by us without even a nod. We know he saw us because we made eye contact! Apparently he was on a mission that didn’t involve us, but to not even bother to say hello was hurtful and unecessary. It was insulting because we assisted him with his lofty goals during the routine of our daily lives and he had led us to believe we were in relationship with him.

For some reason, this particular event was to become the defining moment in realizing the truth about our relationship with him.  We supported his ideas and teachings of community which turned out to be in theory after all was said and done.  In reality, we were in his life to help him with his dreams and goals yet there was no forum to even mention our goals because it turned out to be all about him. He had a way of making you feel that nothing was important as what he was doing. His rude behaviour of practically shunning us in public was to become typical of him, especially when we went out of town. We noticed it didn’t just happen to us however, but to all who were subservient to him (the exception being his golden person of the moment, and his family, of course).

Being treated like a stranger in the park by someone I mistook as a friend sparked in me a resolution to define true friendship and dignify what it is not. I could no longer tolerate the name-dropping about his fantasy friends while he overlooked those who treated him with the respect he hadn’t earned, at least in the area of friendship. In contrast, I thought about my true friends and how we treat each other and my appreciation for their friendship soared. 

Eventually, I penned this song, Heart of a Friend. When I wrote it, I was compelled to look at myself through the lens of a person unworthy of my friendship.  Some of what I saw was true.  But in facing what I didn’t have, I could also see what I do have – the ability to be a friend. It occurred to me that the very essence of who I am – a person with a heart of friendship – was being overlooked by someone who only talked about friendship but didn’t know how to be a friend.  How ironic.

In the end, I came to realize this man was never worthy of my friendship. I discovered that what I don’t possess may be what contributes to what I do have, which is the heart of a friend who is valuable only to someone else who has the heart of a friend too.

My Precious Life

We all want to make a difference in this world and experience success in some way. Sometimes other people’s success can be intimidating when we measure our success by theirs.  Hopefully self-doubt rehearsals of the brain will only momentarily trip us up if we turn to a place of positive reinforcement to replenish our energy so we can maintain our flow and move forward.

I hope this post and ‘My Precious Life’ song can contribute to that in some way.

(lyrics are included in the video)

The other day I woke up to feelings of insignificance and intimidation in the area of my musical gift. Not sure exactly what brought it on, but I recognized the feeling because it sneaks up on me me periodically. It’s funny how you can ride on the heights of possibility one day and the next wallow in the depths of nothingness.

Since we can’t rest on our laurels, as the old saying goes, when it comes to making a place for our art (or whatever it is you want to make a place for), I guess we do what we have to do to keep ourselves moving forward.  It doesn’t seem to matter how much has been accomplished, there’s always the next step to take; and the next step often carries with it the realm of improbability.  Seems like the voice of intimidation whispers to you when you are most vulnerable, but there’s got to be a way to downplay its power when it comes.

What exactly is the effect of intimidation?  Doesn’t it question our ability to do what we do as if we don’t have a right to be doing it?  If we were only to look at all the reasons why we shouldn’t do something, why we don’t measure up, and how the odds are against us, we may as well just stop. But since stopping isn’t an option (to the compelled and passionate), why not look at the entire picture and tally up why we shouldn’t stop? After all, we are holding a gift in our hands to give to the world, even if it is (in my case) one song at a time, and in yours, one (_______) at a time. Bottom line is if we quit, we miss out on the giving and then, of course, no one can receive either, and ultimately intimidation wins.

Whenever I feel stuck like this, I turn to some sort of positive reinforcement to get me out of the funk. One way I do that is to pour a cup of morning joe (into a cute mug), light a candle, sit in a favorite chair and open up my Bible to the book of Psalms. I like Psalms because I can understand and identify with the writers’ honest expressions of their feelings, both high and low, about the events of their lives, both positive and negative.    I like the way they turn to God in need and find solace in worship no matter what the circumstance, returning to him like a touchstone.  Even though written centuries earlier, the material is relatable to what we go through today.

Back to my particular day, the phrase “my precious life” stood out to me in two different verses in two different Psalms (Ps. 35:17 and Ps. 22:20).  I read the verses in context to get some perspective and it was interesting to see that the writer, David, was at a point in his life that he felt insignificant to those who didn’t understand him – like people didn’t get what it was he had to offer.  He was actually hated by enemies who were in pursuit of his life.  (That part I can’t relate to since I don’t have enemies as far as I know.  But I do have an enemy of my soul that can interupt the pursuit of making my music available to whomever.)  When David was pleading to God to rescue his precious life, it sounded more life and death than any of my situations, but then when I look at my musical creativity as a precious life, I can pray the same way – please rescue my precious life from death.  And in a round about way, if my music dies, a big chunk of me dies with it, so you get the picture.

Part of the intimidation for me is I’m getting older and finding out my options have become more limited.  The older a person gets in our society, the more overlooked one can feel, especially if you don’t fit in with the typical glossy product that seems to stir the masses.  If I tried to emulate that, (as if I could…LOL!) it would come across unauthentic and contrived.  My best bet is to stay true to who I am and give what I have with the vessel it comes in.  Part of my offering exists because I’ve lived as many years as I have.  I wouldn’t have been able to say what I say now when I was in my 20s…   So, I’ll keep saying what’s on my mind one song at a time and bring reassurance to one person at a time; and what’s so bad about that?  In the end, if my gift is doing what it’s supposed to be doing, that is success.

I guess I felt such an affinity with that phrase because for my entire adult life I’ve felt I had something precious to give but my journey of giving it away hasn’t been what you’d call typical.  That day when I needed reassurance, yet again, the ‘my precious life’ phrase whispered to me that God sees my life and gift as precious and indeed has a place for it even if it’s uniquely tucked into the nook and cranny places only seen by those who are supposed to see it. I have to ask myself if I am ok with that.  To be honest, that’s where my vulnerability to intimidation comes in.  Sometimes I’m content with that, but not always.  But when I get a glimpse of this perspective, the pain of feeling invisible to the world diminishes, at least for a little while, and makes way for a new surge of energy to keep on keeping on.

So with all that, I decided to sit down at the piano and turn the yearning I felt into a prayer for myself and for anyone else haunted by the the fear of invisibility.  The song that came is my offering. In this case, (what I perceive to be) God’s whisper overcame the insideous whisper of intimidation.

Garden Mine

My Vegi Sign

[I wrote a song called Garden Mine in 1990 and have fine tuned it over the years. Scroll down to the end of this post for a flip video of my most recent version!]

One of my pasttimes between and in and around the music is gardening of some type. That’s another way of saying when I’m being a slacker on getting giggage I at least have something to do with my hands! 

This year I read up again on Herbs and decided to do an herb pot next to our vegetable planter. Last year we planted the herbs in the vegi planter and they sort of took over. So, this time I decided to give them a pot of their own. However, the Basil is now taking over the Rosemary and Cilantro so I should have given them each a separate pot. But that would be way too much in the way of herbs for a small household such as ours.

In planting this year I was inspired to make my own plant signs since I couldn’t find any to my liking in the shops. I liked the type of signs that Edwards Greenhouse uses and when I inquired they told me they had to make their own signs because they too couldnt find what they wanted. So I took their advise and did the same by buying miniature black boards at the craft store along with acrylic paints. Above is the Vegetable sign (I used a stencil and acrylic paint and precut wood); and below is my herb sign in the herbpot.

My HerbPot complete with tweeting bird
As you can see the Basil is already taking over the pot which also is a home to Rosemary and Cilantro!
Big Boxwood Basil
A close up of the Herb sign and DragonFly marker.:
Herb sign in DragonFly holder
My little ornamental tweeting bird which doubles as a prop in my Garden Mine video!
Little Bird
Here’s my Tomato sign. The Tomato is next to the Marjoram that came back in full force from last year!
Tomato plant and sign
Couldn’t resist filling in with a Shasta Daisy and a few Marigolds beside the Pepper plants. I made a Pepper marker as well:
Daisies and Marigolds fill in
Stan planted this planter box a few years ago and it works really well for the amount of vegetables we need. In years past we’ve had much bigger gardens with too large of a harvest, so we are trying to reign ourselves in as we grow in practicality and wisdom!
Our patio planter full of pansies. The snail planter can hold a small plant or a candle which I keep meaning to get around to filling!
Patio planters
This is the beginning of our backyard project that we are ‘fixin’ to do’ hopefully THIS year. Stage one will be to line the fences with a long rock wall planter. So, this mum planter is temporary. Stan built it recently to hold our overgrowing mums that we moved from the Vegi planter before we filled in with pepper and tomota plants. (I planted the mums there in Autumn last year because the ground was too hard outside of the planter.)
a temporary Mums planter
Other growing things – we have a plum tree:
Plum Tree
Metal sun sculpture in side garden early Spring:
Little Garden Sun
May as well throw in a few views of the backyard before the project so we have accurate before and after pictures.
Long view of backyard
backyard patio before the redo

Stan plans to build a porch cover, hopefully this year!

I wrote a song called Garden Mine in 1990 and have fine tuned it over the years. Here’s a flip vid of my most recent version!

On The Porch

So much to say - so little time!

With summer in full swing my thoughts have turned to certain songs that evoke that hanging out under the trees kind of feeling. This song was penned for my dulcimer a few years back while I sitting on my front porch actually. I also play it on my piano, but here’s the dulcimer version to celebrate the last day of July! (haven’t uploaded the vid yet – so stay tuned – until then here are lyrics)

On The Porch

Sittin on the porch waitin for twilight
Summer’s settled in and it feel right
Listen to the crickets two-note roundelay
Pulsing in the night till break of day

Chores are callin from the kitchen sink
But I’m sure the dishes can wait, don’t ya think?
Cuz oh, wouldn’t it just be a shame
To waste the magic of the night away


Get a daily dose of therapy
Out here on the porch the medicine is free
A breeze tips the treetops so they bend and sway
The sprinkler on the lawn gives off a misty spray


B: What is this as daylight ends and shadows come to call
Blissful peacefulness descends and everything’s alright afterall


NancyKellyMusic C 2009
Penned on a June evening in 2008

Cherry Festival Videos

CHECK OUT new videos from my CHERRY FESTIVAL Gigs last weekend! This first one is our band singing THE NEW RIDGE – the song we named ourselves after! We played a one-hour set on Friday night so Stan did a Flip of a few of our songs! (Thanks HK!)

THE NEXT DAY I played a solo set and my friend Sharon flipped 3 songs for me (Thanks Sharon!).

This song is called BIKE RIDE SOUTH (recording started on the 2nd verse):


This one is GRANDMA’S HOUSE: