Lilly Hiatt on the Forced Pause and Beautiful Days
Photo by Chris Turpin
I have written this three different times now. First, a few months ago from my orange chair in Nashville. Thanks, Robert, for that orange chair. Second, in DC at the Americana Hotel, on the road with Todd Snider amid the burgeoning pandemic and post-Nashville tornado. Now, I am writing it again, from back in my orange chair.
Quarantined. Now there is a word that I know from video games, movies about war, sci-fi novels. But as I write this, it is a loose reality. No, I am not confined to one place by force, but I choose to limit my radius, as I am thinking of society as a whole. Now here’s the thing: I have spent the last year and a half obsessing, complete tunnel vision, utter focus, on this record that I am about to put out called Walking Proof. It started in November 2018, as I began to acquire a hearty batch of songs I was proud of. Twenty-five demos were made, 11 songs were recorded, and I felt proud. Waiting to release it into the world seemed like it would be an eternity, but I was willing to try my patience, as what other alternative did I have? That’s how it goes here. Hurry up and wait is real.
Flash forward a few months, a tour is planned. Still, how will I pass the time, I wondered? Some stuff went down in those few months at the end of 2019, including a weird infection, cosmic questioning, good meals, and listening to lots and lots of records. A few rock and roll shows sprinkled in as well. Oh yes, and we toured Europe. (I always forget how busy things actually are.) Flash forward again to January 2020, we are beginning the album rollout. I am putting on my armor to do what I love most, take the music to the people. A few great solo tours, one with Hiss Golden Messenger and one with Todd Snider, and I was revved. And flash forward to now, and I’m stuck at home. Tours postponed, the world stalled.
I’ve never really experienced this kind of forced pause. At first jarred, now I’ve come to a decision. I am going to let go. Let things bloom. Spring is happening. Flowers can’t be stopped. I have been talking to friends on FaceTime, Instagram, Twitter. Sent love to Scotland, Italy, and contemplated a Skype co-write with Patterson Hood. And aside from continuing the hustle, I am reminded of the precious reality I exist in. I have people who love me, I have guitars. I have books, and great speakers, pens and paper. As a musician, I just love to be seen. But that can only come in waves. Sometimes, hiding out is a gift.
We are facing a collective uncertainty at the moment. Nobody knows what to expect. Everyone is rattled. Music City is so beautiful, but you take away our live entertainment and we are lost. In the meantime, folks are scrambling to broadcast from their homes, waving from the other side of the street, and smiling to keep from crying. That’s a beautiful thing. Community. None of us can really afford to be assholes at the moment. Or perhaps that is my ideological brain talking, but I’ll take it. I was walking to the Piggly Wiggly the other day and a man on the other side of the street waved. He said, “It’s a beautiful day. Just walking to get food and going home.” Ya know, quite frankly, it was drizzly and overcast, but I said, “It is a beautiful day.” Because I felt the same way.