EILEEN HEMPHILL-HALEY She was born down south, lives out west, and writes songs with miles of stories to tell. As an artist, Eileen Hemphill-Haley tends to focus on people and the inevitable effects of human nature, how personalities enliven and interact with one another. Her work has a common thread: a respect for the ordinary things in life, and common aspirations that connect us all. Thus the title for her latest release, 'Ordinary Life.' 'E' describes her musical style as 'story-oriented folk rock,' and depending on the instrumentation (that is, whether playing solo or backed by her roots-rock band), the sound ranges from folk to rock to blues to Americana. But regardless of the particular presentation, the focus of E's music remains the same: characters in action that make themselves seen and heard in the imagination. Consider, for example, the star-crossed lovers in the percussive lament 'River of Love', or the narcissistic protagonist n the rocking 'Nobody Knows Your Name.' By song's end, you not only have a sense that you know these people, but also how they feel. Notes Frank Gosar (KLCC FM, Eugene, Oregon): 'Eileen Hemphill-Haley writes songs with bone and sinew as well as heart, with characters that breathe and stories that ring true.' Born in 1959, and the fourth of five sisters, E grew up during a time of great change in the consciousness of America, with the rise of civil rights, women's rights, the environmental movement, and unprecedented civil disobedience and anti-war activism during the Viet Nam years. Her childhood was a life in motion as well, as the family was constantly uprooted and relocated thanks to her father's career. But with each move to some new town, some new state, E was immersed in another American subculture, with their local customs and regional use of language. It was a life that helped honed her sense of observation and developed in her a true appreciation for everyday people. Issues like the bonds of love and friendship, parenthood, work, maintaining one's identity, and surviving the best you can in a god-awful busy world are recurrent themes in her writing, and arise from this inherent respect for the so-called common folk -- her 'unsung heroes' -- in communities everywhere. 'I Remember You' honors a teacher-mentor; 'Life is a Road' reminds us that human life is a one-way journey, without a map; 'Our Kind of Story' asks the question 'why shoot for a fairytale romance when you can have the real thing?' Although E credits influences ranging from Emmylou Harris to Bonnie Raitt, Woody Guthrie to the Allman Brothers, she is an artist who has clearly found her own voice. An experienced performer, E has a knack for making audiences feel at ease and happy to kick back. A self-taught guitarist since childhood, her style is unique and dynamic, and a natural accompaniment to her clear, mezzo-soprano voice. It's the sound of two instruments that grew up together. Eileen Hemphill-Haley has performed at the Oregon Folklife Festival, Willamette Valley Folk Festival, Sisters Folk Festival, Eugene Celebration and many smaller venues, and has opened for folk favorites Patty Larkin, Dar Williams, Ferron, Greg Brown, Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, and Lucy Kaplansky. Songwriting awards include finalist honors for the prestigious Kerrville New Folk contest (2000) and the Music-to-Life contest, sponsored by Paul Stookey and the Public Domain Foundation (2001). Hear unreleased mp3s and keep up with the latest E-news on the web at EHHMusic.com! ======= Insights to the songs: LIFE IS A ROAD The idea for this song took shape during a day trip in northern California. I traveled that day with my husband, our young son, and a good friend from back east, on his first visit to the area. From our home we headed out first to Petrolia and the beautiful 'Lost Coast,' on a road so winding that we never knew what we'd see around each bend. It got me thinking about the unknown, about how even when you don't know what is front of you, you have no choice but to move forward and meet it anyway. On that day we were pleasantly surprised with one gorgeous view after another; if only life was always like that. We then traveled inland from the coast into a forest of towering, ancient redwood trees. When you see the redwoods, it's impossible not to think about time, since they are so noble and so incredibly old. As we drove through the trees I found myself becoming more and more pensive, thinking about each of the people I was riding with. There was my husband, Mark, whom I've known for so long; our son, a cute little kid with his whole life ahead of him; our friend, a cancer survivor, basically embarking on a rare second chance at life. It occurred to me that life is a journey, and a timeline, and you can go anywhere you like except back. And the way to make it all work out is to remember that your destination isn't somewhere you'll eventually get to, but everything you do and every life you touch along the way. JUST WHAT I NEED Relationships are very big things that are entirely dependent on a bunch of little things to make them work. The original inspiration for this song came when some friends made the happy announcement that they were getting married. It occurred to me that happy couples are the ones who bring out the best in each other, and make a point to pay attention to each other's needs every day. It takes the right person to inspire you, and provide the things that matter. TALK TO ME This is a heart-felt request to someone who doesn't care to talk about his feelings, even though it's the one thing that might heal his world. For some people the prospect of talking things out seems too daunting, too risky. It's a pervasive and frustrating situation for a lot of couples and families. SO LONG, NEVER GOODBYE For my grandparents, it was tempting fate to use the phrase 'goodbye' when something less final would do. They were quite a couple, married for more than 60 years. In all the years I knew them, I never once heard them say 'goodbye' to one another. They always said 'so long' instead. It was this endearing little superstitious thing they always did, right down to the last days of their lives. JUMPED This is a look at a couple with completely different versions of how they first met and fell and love. 'You've got it all wrong,' she says. 'It wasn't just happenstance, I knew exactly what I was doing. I knew you were the one. I didn't fall for you, I jumped!' OUR KIND OF STORY Anybody who's been involved in real-life love knows it's no fairy tale, but that doesn't mean it isn't great. Of course, real-life relationships aren't always easy. There's a reason for that 'for better or worse' clause, after all. But as long as you find yourself in a situation where you're happy more often than not, and with someone who looks good to you in any given situation, you can bask in the joys of the real deal, and scoff at all those tabloid personalities who wouldn't know real love if it bit them on the ass. As for Cinderella, she would have caused a whole lot less trouble if she had just taken a moment to stop, pick up her shoe, and say 'look baby, this is the real me. Wanna make a go of it?' If the prince had said no, it wasn't going to work out anyway, now was it? NOBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME This is a curious little study in psychology. Here is a person who strives to attain a mysterious persona while simultaneously doing all kinds of little things to guarantee she'll get noticed. But when everyone starts to get used to her, and stop paying so much attention, she tires of the game and moves on. RIVER OF LOVE This is a story inspired by the star-crossed lovers in Isabelle Allende's novel House of the Spirits. In my version of the story, however, the characters are a couple of young sweethearts in a rural southern town, meeting down by a slow, muddy river. The problems are just the same though -- whether in a class-divided South American country or a bigoted American south -- when family and culture slice through the lives of two people in love. But in the end it doesn't matter what people try to tell them, because they simply know better. THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE Sometimes the last thing you want is for your little inner voice to speak up and straighten you out. There are times, in fact, when the truth hurts too much -- even coming from yourself. I REMEMBER YOU As an artist, I tend to focus on the lives of everyday people, and the kinds of experiences that many of us can understand. In my life, I notice everyday heroes everywhere I go, and to me, our teachers are some of the biggest heroes of all. 'I Remember You' is a dedication to Albert Dell Mahood, a man who was a mentor to me and many other people over the years. Dell was the epitome of a great teacher: creative, funny, dedicated and caring. Although I specifically wrote this about him, I also consider it an anthem for wonderful teachers everywhere.
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