Photo: Rain Bengis; Cover and CD packaging and design: Lallan Schoenstein
This collection of primarily original songs, recorded in live performances and in studio, expresses the complexities and joys of creating, loving, and activism through older women’s voices. The colorful, innovative mixes of these 17 songs give personal expression to a lifetime of weaving compassion, wonder and commitment. As the CD jacket states: “The songs on Talking Truth are for the good of all who struggle for equality, justice, solidarity and tender caring of all living creatures and our fragile earth.” In “Army of Support,” we, as older lesbians, sing out our solidarity with bullied LGBTQ youth. And in our only cover song, the beloved “Gracias a la Vida” by Chilean activist folk singer Violeta Parra, (also recorded by Mercedes Sosa, Joan Baez and Holly Near) we give thanks to life, “which has given us so much.”
“For The Good Of All”:
“You Were Then When”:
Purchase CD on AMAZON
“Amazingly radical lyrics surrounded by beautiful music – What could be better? Kudos to The SeaWaves for their continued commitment to social justice activism through music. Talking Truth does just that, by reminding us with each and every song of the power that we all have to change the world around us.” —Imani Henry, Activist, Writer, Performer
“…Talking Truth is deeply political, fiercely feminist, inspiring and heartwarming. This eclectic blend of music reminds us of the importance of both struggle and celebration.”–Julie R. Enszer, poet and co-editor, Sinister Wisdom
“Watch out! The SeaWaves are here and they are rolling in with a wonderful new CD, Talking Truth. The trio’s well-crafted songs bring one back to the heady days of a lesbian-feminist movement bursting with energy and optimism, when lesbian singer-songwriters were weaving new voices for sisterhood and challenging the entrenched monoliths of a male-controlled music industry.” –Merry Gangemi, producer & host of Woman-Stirred Radio, Radio Goddard WGDR/WGDH
“… lovely selections about life, love, sexuality, being female, and the LGBTQ experience from Stonewall through the bullying crisis. … It is a keeper.” —Pam Parker, union activist & cultural worker
“It is heartening to hear the passion and clarity of commitment in these songs, evoking the activism of the seventies with some 21st century riffs added to good ballads and rants.” –Sorrel Hays, Composer
“Strong, melodic and political, like early mid 70’s politics. Talking Truth on many topics: relationships, hope for the coming years, a reminder of the joys and energy of the early years. Talking Truth: listen, remember and look forward.” —Marilyn Ries, Riessound
Woman-Stirred Radio: An interview with Jeri Hilderley and excerpts from the album: (From the Women-Stirred website)
Comments on the Songs by the Composers
1. Potpourri Musicale – 4:34. Lyrics/music by Jeri Hilderley. Performed by The SeaWaves and Lauren Draper, trumpet and flugelhorn.
When The SeaWaves were performing with other musicians at a concert called Musicale Potpourri (a mix of personal, political and poetical songs) Jeri accidentally toppled from the four feet high stage, banging her head. To make sure no harm was done, she wrote a new song, “Potpourri Musicale;” it incorporates all the wonderful aspects of performing with The SeaWaves, with humor, irony, and the longings gay gray blades have to be spirited and relevant.
2. Army of Support – 3:14. Lyrics/music by Jeri Hilderley. Performed by The SeaWaves.
When many LGBTQ youth across the country were committing suicide from bullying and non-acceptance, The SeaWaves felt alarmed, as did many political artists across the country. They had to do something to speak out to our troubled young! To give this community their public support, Sue Harris of People’s Video Network created a video of “Army of Support.” Janet wove together a series of poignant images into the sound track, showing solidarity, demonstrations, and marches of LGBTQ communities across the world. Find it on their Seawave YouTube channel. They also re-recorded it in the SeawaveRecordings Studio with The SeaWaves, with Susan Ahlborn adding a driving guitar and poignant vocal harmonies to the mix.
3. Talking Truth – 3:40. Lyrics/music by Jeri Hilderley. Performed by The SeaWaves. Lauren Draper, trumpet and flugelhorn. For the 99 %.
Aren’t we all fed up with the greed and hypocrisy so pervasive in our capitalist profiteering system? Each one who feels this rage needs to talk her truth and remember that we, the people, can rise up; we can shape our lives in a system that cares for us, because we are that system. We are the builders of structures that feed, clothe, educate and respect us.
4. You Were There When – 6:18. Lyrics/music by Jeri Hilderley. Performed by The SeaWaves. For Janet Mayes.
“I was sitting in my partner Janet’s communal kitchen, strumming on the guitar as delicious aromas wafted into my nostrils. Suddenly a time warp occurred. It wasn’t 2008, but 1968, 40 years earlier and I was at the Burning City Street Theatre’s summer camp, in Keene, New Hampshire. The crew for that night was cooking dinner as the rest of us was prepared the barn, set the table and sang our latest song. One of my most comforting memories is enjoying meals with comrades who have worked hard together all day. As Janet stirred mushrooms, garlic and onions, she morphed into one of those remembered comrades (as well as staying with me in the present) and through her closeness I remembered all of the passions and beliefs that continue to inspire me and millions of young and older people across the globe to create a more fair and just world that we can all thrive in.”
5. Fifty Fits You – 3:53 Music by soloist Susan Ahlborn; Lyrics by Diana Woolis. Lyrics/music by Jeri Hilderley. Performed by The SeaWaves. For Gail Mellow.
“When my friend Gail Mellow was turning fifty, her partner Diana Woolis wrote a beautiful poem commemorating the occasion. I was very moved by the poem and asked Diana if I could have a go at putting music to it. My melody for “Fifty Fits You” is inspired by and based on that beautiful poem.
6. Undying Whispers of Love – 4:31. Lyrics/music by Jeri Hilderley. Performed by The SeaWaves.
“During the 70’s, musician, composer, singer, Kay Gardner and I toured New England and the East Coast, performing our original songs in cafes, clubs and apartments to our eager audiences of young feminists and lesbians. Kay on her flute, I on my marimba, also performed with other musicians in churches and idyllic fields with our chant-like songs, gathering the forces of nature, goddess figures, and our political determinations. Our musical force was short-lived by a series of unfortunate events that caused our separation. Thirty-five years later, not long after Kay’s untimely death, I had a powerful dream that recalled that once strong connection as well as other profound disappointments in love. Yet, the dream itself, in remembering, bespoke of the “undying whispers of love.”
7. For the Good of All – 4:50. Lyrics/music by Jeri Hilderley inspired by the poem of Otto Rene Castillo, Guatemalan revolutionary and of Cesar Valléjo, leftist and intensely innovative writer. Performed by The SeaWaves, with Bruce MacPherson on keyboards.
“This song composed in the late 60’s for an anti-war drama by the Burning City Street Theatre, was sung all across the country. In performance after performance, its strong words embedded within melodic phrases evoked the passion, fierceness and tenderness we felt was necessary to reach our public. It’s thrilling to be singing this song again with The SeaWaves, along with Bruce MacPherson’s lyrical keyboard melody. Its message never dies: great love drives true revolutionaries.
8. Talk to Me – 4:17. Lyrics/music by Jeri Hilderley. Performed by The SeaWaves.
“I have great awe and gratitude for the talk-therapy profession. How many of us have suffered not having someone to talk to when we needed it so urgently? This open invitation to a friend, a relative, a lover, a stranger, to talk from his/her heart with the promise of listening and caring, is a reminder of a simple, profound truth: we all need someone to talk to; and we all need to learn how to listen.”
9. Changes? – 4:01. Lyrics and Music by soloist Susan Ahlborn. Performed by The SeaWaves.
The changes (in weather and events) expressed in this enigmatic song don’t bring wonder and joy but despair with their predictability of broken love. Even images of children and laughter, when a new circus show comes to town, only adds to the pervasive, melancholic mood of the verses, set within a palimpsest of haunting melodies by the singer, guitar, bass and pan flute. Yet all is not lost: at the end, the pan flute sings out to new possibilities.
10. Gay Beach in P-Town – 4:27 Lyrics/music by Jeri Hilderley. Performed by The SeaWaves with Lauren Draper, trumpet and flugelhorn. Dedicated to Rain Bengis.
“When visiting the gay beach in P-Town, I was delighted and eased by the quiet respect everyone had for each other. The water and waves became luscious, the stones on the beach magical. A group of friends, including Rain Bengis, who created The SeaWaves portrait for this album, began riffing on our experience to express our joy and sadness. Gay people rarely experience unencumbered joy; it is too often shadowed by prejudice, if not brutal hostility, a terrible loneliness. But not on this beach in P-Town! I wrote this song to express both our joy and the cost of our joy.”
11. Turn Around Sister – 5:06. Lyrics/music by Jeri Hilderley. Performed by The SeaWaves.
“I wrote this song, a kind of ritual honoring, in the late 70s during the passionate uprisings of women across the country. Words and melody, evoking images of women revolving/evolving, taking turns, inspecting, protecting, and appreciating each other, were inspired by an anti-war demonstration around the Pentagon. With “sisterhood is powerful” energy, thousands of women circled and danced around that formidable military institution. As we actually wove yarn around it’s entirety, myself and others (now emblazoned with primal energy and rage!) peed on it as well. Our rituals helped us gather our courage to keep building a strong movement. The playful, almost mirror like reflections that run through the song, come from my being a twin, with whom I am in constant evolving dialogue. It’s a mystery how two people so close, so similar can become so different. Yet my straight twin-sister and I (both of us are left of center to varying degrees) continue to work on our connection, accepting our differences and appreciating our similarities.
12. Reach Out – 3:18. Lyrics/music by Jeri Hilderley. Performed by The SeaWaves with solo vocalist Naomi Cohen Goldstein.
“After attending an annual Workers World conference, where I was struck by the intensity of speakers and attendees, this quote by Ché Guevera reverberated in me: “Solidarity is the tenderness of the people.” With one phrase, Ché like Otto, like Violeta, reinforced the need to rid the world of tyranny through empathy and struggle. “Reach Out” is my humble contribution to the necessity of change; we all need to reach out and work with others who understand this. Naomi Cohen Goldstein joins us to sing out this tribute to Che’s message. Janet Mayes worked with me to arrange this version of the song.”
13. I’m No Fool – 4:24. Lyrics/music by Jeri Hilderley. Performed by The SeaWaves and Lauren Draper, trumpet and flugelhorn.
This song is a wry and earnest attempt to undercut the pervasive homophobic cloud that can smother the light-filled joy of finding sensual, sexual love. Even as the singer appears to be defensive, or almost apologetic, she sings again and again how much in love she is with, well whoever she is singing to. “I wrote this song to break down my repressive walls, which had prevented me from accepting my love for women.” Maybe this is a coming out song.
14. Trembling with the Stars – 3:52. Lyrics/music by Jeri Hilderley. Performed by The SeaWaves. Dedicated to Jerome Badanes
“This song evolved slowly through many forms, and is a kind of evocation-prayer to my once movement/comrade/husband, Jerome Badanes. Together we created the political arts journal CAW Magazine and The Burning City Street Theatre, performing and collaborating with several collective groups through the 60’s to mid 70’s. We transformed our private dreams as artists, he a poet, I a sculptor, to join the Anti-War and Civil Rights movements with our sisters and brothers. Our love for each other helped us grow and work in solidarity with many organizations. We remained close friends, even after we needed to continue on separate journeys. When he died suddenly at 58 “Trembling with the Stars” was/is my way to heal and go on. It is also one attempt to express my profound gratitude and continuing appreciation for how he and I consciously grew together.”
15. Gracias a la Vida – 3:31. Lyrics/Music by Violeta Parra. Performed by Jeri and Susan.
“I first saw this song by Violeta Parra in an issue of Sing Out magazine, co-founded by Pete Seeger. The simple uplifting melody haunted me. When I heard Violeta’s original recording, I was transfixed. At the time I was teaching music to special education students, many of who were Latino/a. I knew they would love this song and I included it in many of our performances. Although I am not proficient in Spanish, I felt it was extremely important for this song to be included on Talking Truth. By revisiting the original recording by Violeta, I have humbly tried to incorporate her soulful vocalization of this beautiful homage to the essence of love, language, and sound. Mercedes Sosa, Argentinean singer, Joan Baez and Holly Near have also recorded this song, our only ‘cover.’ ”
16. For Jack – 3:35 By soloist Susan Ahlborn and Nancy Boyd. For Jack Boyd. Performed by The SeaWaves.
“On a road trip to Arkansas with my friends, Nancy Boyd and Susan Fedele, we stopped in Nashville to visit Nancy’s nephew Brandon. Brandon and his wife Misty had just had their first child and Nancy was eager to see him. After the visit Nancy was so smitten with the baby that she said to me that she would love to be able to write a lullaby for him. I came up with a tune, played it for Nancy and she wrote the incredible words for that sweet little boy.”
17. Caring Place – 7:10. Lyrics/music by Jeri Hilderley. Performed by The SeaWaves.
“Taking part in the marches, meetings, demonstrations organized by the International Action Center, has educated me in the enormous global membership of this organization; visionary activists, artists, workers, survivors, of all ages, races, genders, and sexualities, work every day to build an alternate world to imperialism. This song is my homage and deep appreciation to all the people in the world who give their lives, their voices, their souls, their minds, their bodies, their money, their sweat, their blood, their hopes to build now at this moment a world we can all participate in, can believe in, can live in, can thrive in. It’s a caring place and we all deserve to live in it, not ‘someday,’ but NOW! ”