Today I’m welcoming a writer of a different kind. Katie Garibaldi is a singer/songwriter, and I was delighted when she offered to write a guest article. I’ve always been fascinated by the process of putting a song together, and I have great admiration for song-writers. I think a well-crafted song has more emotional power than many other art forms.
Here’s Katie to tell us about how her writing has been a cathartic process for her, and how her love songs have brought people together in a magical way.
Growing up on Disney movies, the Beatles, and the ultimate queen of love ballads, Mariah Carey, it’s no wonder that love songs were a huge and organic influence on me as a budding young songwriter. I used to rewind and repeat all the love ballads on my favorite albums, and something would resonate deep within my spirit—a calling that I had not quite put my finger on just yet. I was always a melody-maker as a kid and at 11-years-old when I first picked up a guitar, I had finally found the right tool that I needed to extract those melodies out of my head and release into the wild world. I wrote like a maniac in those early years. Song after song poured out of me as if they had been locked away inside myself for thousands of years and were at long last escaping for breath. When I wasn’t at school, I was in my room writing. When I wasn’t writing, I was counting the minutes until I was home with my guitar.
Here’s the thing: in those pre-teen and teen years, the majority of the songs I wrote were love songs. Of course at 16-years-old I didn’t know a thing about love (although I’m sure I thought I did, just like any teenage girl). But for me, writing love songs was a natural and instinctive way for me to express myself and deal with the pressures of adolescent life. If I had a bad day or was feeling depressed, I might sit down and write a sad breakup song. If I was feeling inspired and uplifted, I would write a happy love song. Even though these may not have been based fully on true stories, the songwriting still reflected the emotions I was feeling and allowed me to release my inner moods as a way of profound healing at an age when having a creative outlet was paramount to endure. I didn’t plan what I was going to write about, I just closed my eyes and let the song come as it may.
I remember when I first started performing at a local café; I took the beginning steps into my fate as a music artist, and played my
little love songs for a small group of people. After the show, an older man came up to me in what seemed like a fit of desperation and said he needed to talk to me. I sat down with my coffee and listened to him carry on about his troubles with his wife and how they’re at a fork in the road in their marriage and he still loves her but can’t fix what’s damaged and, good Lord, what should he do! Well, of course I had no idea. I was maybe only 15-years-old, I had never been in love before, and I didn’t even know this man! However, I had felt his heartache while I watched him listen to me sing my songs and I saw the turmoil and tears in his eyes when he vented to me about his problems. Here I was, just a quiet and shy kid, at one of my first live gigs, and this stranger was quoting the lyrics to my songs and wanting my opinion on love and advice on his relationship. I don’t remember what I told him except that I believed everything would work out as it should. In hindsight, this was one of the most meaningful moments of my life as a songwriter because I was witnessing the wondrous power of a song, a love song, to be exact.
I know now that a seed was planted in me that day, and this seed grew into a bountiful tree of awareness that is the root of my purpose in life as a songwriter. When a song is born from the heart, it will connect people like magnets, as if our inner eyes catch the flicker of a light burning on the windowsill of another’s soul. Something that begins as a very personal and solo experience in my bedroom alone with my guitar can become, via performing original words and music to a group of strangers with reckless abandon, a beautiful shared human experience—a moment of interconnectivity that no one else in the universe but the people in that room will make a memory of, which lends to the truth that those sharing that moment are no longer strangers at all, in fact, they are the farthest from it. What a beautiful and special phenomenon!
Currently, a full-time touring singer/songwriter and guitar player, I still write a lot of love songs, and my songwriting process remains similar to when I first started. However, inspiration from a very real love with my dear husband has replaced good and bad days at school to form the stories in my love songs that are born nowadays. But I often look back on those early years and realize how songwriting genuinely saved my life. The phase between childhood and adulthood presents significantly challenging life lessons and I don’t think I could have gotten through it as well as I did without music as a portal to escape and mend. Writing love songs didn’t solve life’s situations, but they comforted me when I needed it most, and when I let them loose on the outside world, and as I got older, I learned that the same songs could make a connection with other people going through trials and tribulations of their own, and therefore maybe they would feel the same comfort that I do. Music is not only cathartic, but it brings people together in a way that is truly magical. Unfortunately, no manual is given to us to get through life and navigate our relationships with people (and with ourselves), but perhaps the closest thing to it is a simple and timeless serenade of a love song.
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Katie Garibaldi’s new album Follow Your Heart, is now available digitally and physically worldwide. Visit Katie’s website or social media pages for more information about the album and tour dates.
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Katie, thank you so much for coming today. I’ve loved hearing how you became a songwriter, and I especially loved hearing how an older gentleman stopped to ask your advice after a concert. It just shows how much we revere our songwriters. And I totally agree that music binds people together in a powerful way. It’s been wonderful getting to know you.
If you’ve enjoyed Katie’s post, or have any questions or comments at all, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you!