Audrey Auld: January 14, 1964 – August 9, 2015
Last night I listened to Audrey Auld’s “Losing Faith” a few times. I was reminded of the title track from her 2003 album while listening to Kasey Chamber’s new one “I Would Do,” another song that uses Christian imagery to describe romantic love. When I first heard “Losing Faith” years ago, I listened to it several times in a row. The song touched me for personal relationship reasons and personal faith reasons. It’s one of those pieces of art that only someone who’s left the church and been heartbroken can fully understand. Auld had other work like that — work that a person with a background in believing is best suited to appreciate. A lot of Western stories — written, spoken, and visual — are similar in that perhaps people who grew up secular can’t quite fully appreciate what the story has to offer. Losing a love, losing a faith-based tenet; these things have a lot in common.
Auld achieved that inclusivism in much of her writing. It’s what the best songwriters do. Hit you in the gut and show you a bigger picture at the same time. This is the basis of her most recent album Hey Warden. The culmination of several years’ work based on her songwriting workshops in San Quentin prison, the songs on the album were co-written by Auld and the prisoners during songwriting workshops. Talk about encompassing the personal and the larger scale. One of the best examples of that ability and talent on the album is the song “I Am Not What I Have Done.” In the song, Auld sings, “The choices I made were wrong but I am not what I have done,” and “Oh let me be the prodigal one for I am not what I have done.” It’s an important lesson but not a didactic one.
This morning I woke up to do a little research on these personal and metaphysical songs for a column idea I had. I Googled Audrey Auld first thing, only to find that she passed away last night. She was open with fans about her cancer diagnosis, but I guess because she was still actively performing, a lot of us hadn’t thought of her death as imminent. In her April newsletter, Auld wrote:
“Music is a great solace and the only thing that remains true and unchanged as all around me, and within me, changes. This medical journey takes my time, my money, my life-style, my identity and puts much into question. I’m quite changed by it all, and still discovering how so.”
Godspeed Audrey Auld. Your light and your work will be missed.