I had cancer in this photo, but didn’t know it yet. And MAN, things were finally happening for me. Such bad timing, thanks cancer. After living in Nashville for a little while, I was finally sharing and recording the new album and then BOOM, we were hit with this incredibly life rocking news. In the years following I have come to realize how precious and important that chapter was. It was a time to turn inward and really reflect on what was most important.

2020 has many of the same qualities. 

There’s a lot of loss, heartache, and confusion, and it has definitely forced us to look at the uncomfortable/painful things in an honest open light. There are things about the world, my country, and myself that I am really broken up about. No more glossing over the crud. We need to flush out what’s suffocating us, so we have the room to firmly plant some good hardy worthwhile roots. 

So yeah, I’m super done with this year, just like you. But to share a perspective, being on the other side of all those blasted surgeries, chemo, radiation, and about a billion scans, and radioactive drinks, I’m grateful I had the opportunity to live through that because now every drop of love, health, and life I have today feels like a big juicy miracle. 

I think we should all write down the things we’ve felt and learned during this experience. This way we won’t forget what it felt like to not be able to hug someone, or go see someone, or go to a family member’s wedding, or be able to see the world smile at each other. That way, when we have it all back, we’ll be able to cherish those things forever and ever.

All my love,

Rachel Adell

It started out with a happily ending    

The mom, the dad, the kids pretending

That all was well within the ranks

Till they whipped out the rifles and set up the tanks

I’m a nothing, I’m a flea

Drowning in a hot milk sea

Fallen down the grassy hill

Lay broken at the bottom with Jack and Jill

What to live for, they tell me What I’ll grow up to be Who to see, and how to see What to be, they tell me Who they see But who they see will never be me

The world around was moving slower

Crouched in my seat and sinking lower

Grades were dropping, clothes were slopping

Bursting bubbles all were popping

Take what’s left, keep it protected

Act cool and unaffected Grassy knees and broken crown

Pick up your bones after you fall down

They went out for just one last bite, of their tasty candy tequila night While happily stoned stumbling home, They found their children sittimg alone King and Queen of Hearts and no one else, you can tie their ribbons, while they ring their bells But it’s awfully hard to fill a gaping gap on another nice Mommy or dear Daddy’s lap They gave it their all, they gave it their best, but they weren’t the ones to undo their own mess

Follow me, my rain black cloud

The giant voices are too loud

Sometimes her, it’s sometimes him

Through these boozed up veins I swim

It’s not my favorite game to tell

Who pushed and yelled until I fell

Under here, a screaming shout

Please someone get me out right now

by Rachel Adell

Back story to some of the symbolism in this song…

Rifles and Tanks: Home felt like a war zone. (Wait until I tell you about a dream I had about three years ago about plastic toy artillery trucks from the 80’s being stored under my rib cage. Talk about symbolism)!

Flea: When my parents divorced, my emotional needs were at the very bottom of everyone’s list. No one asked me what I wanted, how I was feeling. I felt small and insignificant.

Hot milk sea: Left alone with a mother who shared her unhappiness with me, and I felt like I was drowning a lot of the time.

Jack and Jill: A throw back to traumatic childhood poetry with a horrible ending and no explanation, seemed to match the feelings I had about my parents divorce. I was only seven years old and it ruined me.

The Chorus: This section is from an old poem I wrote in high school. “What to live for, they tell me…” This confusing chorus is all about how the adults in my life felt they had a right to tell me how to live and what I’d become. When in reality, it was their negligance that would determine how I would need to be. As a child, when your needs are not met at home, you find a way to get your needs met and go into survival mode. I went internal, I made music, I wrote, I made art. And though I may have outwardly obeyed to avoid something as intimate as a conflict, I did not absorb the foolish musings bestowed upon me. Most any adult in my life, I made dang sure they didn’t know the real me. Even as a child I knew they didn’t care about me, they only wanted to control me for their own peace of mind and convenience.

Clothes were slopping: This was middle school when I deliberately let my grades drop to see if anyone would care. Surprise! Most did not.

Bursting Bubbles: I would get my hopes up about a lot of potential scenarios where my mom would remarry the current guy she was dating, and settle down and we’d have a normal life again. But after she continued the cycle of dating and breaking up a few times, I learned to turn off those hopes and focus on things within my control.

Boozed up Veins: I wouldn’t say my mother or father were moderate drinkers. For my Dad it felt leisurely and just habitual, whereas for my mother it felt like she was numbing pain. I always felt my mother’s sadness simultaneously pouring into her glass and my heart.

Under Here: I would often scream into my pillow or under my blanket, and I felt like I was trapped under water or under hundreds of bricks and no one could hear me, let alone help me.

Wow, sad song right? But the happy instrumentation. That’s always been me. When I’m sad, I try to find a way to put a bounce in my step. This used to be a survival instinct to mask my broken heart as a child. Very few took the time to look past the mask, those were the people I still keep close to my heart. As an adult I turn to light things simply to change my mood. Music, natural light, dancing, running, art, or laughing seem to do the trick. I find that once I’m out of my doom and gloom and in a more balanced logical head space, I can better evaluate my situation anyway. Don’t underestimate the fake happy people, sometimes they’re just being plain smart. Ha!

Mostly she always sits alone

With her head full of things

No one wants to know

Mostly she always sits alone

Blonde skin, wide teeth, she sits alone

Saturday morning cartoons

My mom and that man I kinda know

It’s cold here, mold growing on the bedroom wall

I share it with my sister in the linoleum hall

Who will tuck me in? Suck in the tear

It’s cold here

He offered me a sip of beer from the front seat

We’re headed to Idaho for church today

Blowing bubbles could make me happy

If I was a normal kid, it may

But this is my life

This is the way it goes

Does anybody really know

The mold and pain that grows

And never seems to go away

By Rachel Adell

A lot of my music does confuse, but the dichotomy is one hundred percent intentional. Super sad lyrics paired with a completely upbeat bombastic parade? Not sure there’s a better way to describe me. I know it’s what has made my music a little less commercial. But truly, to stay authentic, I could have it no other way. You’ll find that behind many shiny performers, you’ll find a deeply quiet and often sad person. Someone who’s survived a lot of pain. Does this mean they’re fake? Does this mean they’ve gotten over everything? Does this mean they’re strong? Maybe. All I know is that each person is a complex story to unfold.

Since you’re taking the time to come and read about my song, I’ll give you a little insight to some of the experiences included in this particular song…The girl that sits alone is me. But it’s also my sisters. We all had different dads and because of this, were estranged from our family in one way or another. On the Saturday morning I was born (at home), my sister was sitting in the other room trying to drown out the screams with Sesame Street and Bugs Bunny. My biological father was the second or third in a line of men that she would stop investing in.

We’re all very imaginative girls who have always found a great audience with our mother and with one another. Those on the outside rarely understand our particular recipe of pain + honesty + quirkines. We will continue to try to explain, and continue to expect most to be thoroughly confused.

As a child, I always wanted someone to come in and tuck me in, but I also didn’t. Either I was in trouble or I was lonely, there were rarely moments in between. Moments I felt embraced and loved. There was a moment when I tried to share a homemade corner room with my baby sister to help her stop crying. It worked for a couple hours. I brought this image into the song because that night reoccurs in my thoughts and dreams over and over again.

The bridge refers to a memory that my older sister recalled about my biological dad taking us to a church over the state border from Wallowa to somewhere in Idaho. My sister detested him and church. He offered her a sip of beer while he was driving. She was in the back seat and I was laying on the front seat. She remembers chewing grape bubble gum and distincly feeling like not even that could make her happy.

The last verse is a description of pain that’s always there. You can come to terms with things, you can even try to learn from them, and then get over them. But sometimes there’s just a stubborn scar left over from the experience. Without proper attention, it could continue to grow into something larger and more distorted. *enter any number of addictions*

Since writing this song my heart has healed tremendously. There is value in talking, expressing, and sharing your experiences with others. Not only does it connect you more authentically to everyone else who’s experiencing their own kind of pain, it just validates it and makes it smaller somehow.

Here’s a line in Crocodile Dundee that explains this concept beautifully, “…if you got a problem, you tell Wally. And he tells everyone in town… brings it out in the open… no more problem.” There is something to be said about airing out the painful things of life in the warm open arms of the sun. We go through stuff, and then we get to decide if we’re going to let it be heavy or let it go.

Standing on dynamite

About to explode

Wanna make peace

Blind from the smoke

Hot, wild, passionate

The fires are stoked

Personal power

Given over, revoked

Lead in a loop

You’ve been tricked

Politcally dooped

Outwitted and kicked

The extremes lost the race

Cause they lost who they are

A mirror with your face

Up close, but so far

Got pulled into drama

Pulled into the fight

Trumps and Obamas

Who’s wrong and who’s right?

Imagine together

What we could do

Unraveling old into the new

‘Cause we’re so much more

Than red and blue

By Rachel Adell

This month is Child Cancer Awareness month! I am a cancer survivor, but I cannot imagine going through something like that as a child, or having one of my children suffer through the trenches of treatments and uncertainty. Imagine Dragons created one of my favorite Cancer Foundations. If you know me, you know that I have survived cancer, and that I am also not convinced that the research foundations are completely legit. Maybe it’s the fact that foundation CEO’s are extremely wealthy and the cancer industry itself is a multi billion dollar industry. I wonder why we haven’t found a cure yet? 

But I LOVE Imagine Dragons Tyler Robinson Foundation. They had a fan who came to all their shows, Tyler, and he so positive and sweet. When he passed away, they decided to make this foundation in his name. You can read the whole story on their website.

They raise money and give it directly to families. As you know, the medical bills get so out of hand, and sometimes both parents have to work to make ends meet. A time when a child most needs their parents presence and peace of mind, TRF provides them with the funds needed to support these families during one of the most heart breaking chapters of their life. Here’s where you can learn more, if you feel so inclined.

A song from my album Unpainting Roses

It’s a long pull away from home, how we pull away and pull along

Use her for our own gain, push each other and go insane

Streets filled with moving body parts, fancy hairpins, popcan grocery carts

Doors are flinging, coat tails swinging, diamonds flashing, knuckles bashing

Where are we going? How are we going?

Which way did you say we were going?

What are we running from, what do we do?

I don’t know, we were following you

But all together we are one, one mislead confusing one

Try to reach out, or try not, voices dormant and left to rot

There is a love, there is a hate, was it supposed to be this way?

Where a man starves to death, outside your white house picket fence?

It’s a long pull away from home, how we pull away and pull along

Use him for our own gain, push each other and go insane

I wrote this song in 2004 and seems to apply just about every day in every way. There is a political tone here yes, but the idea for this song came when a friend and I were streaking in the highschool football field at night. We were running as fast as we could and yelled, “What are we running from?!” Man, I remember laughing my head off at the idea of both of us running because the other person was running, but having no idea what we were running from.

Isn’t that just how life is though? We hear a blip here and a tweet there and think we have enough to run on. Then we accideantally start a news wildfire. My hope is that I’ll stay resolute on finding the truth and supporting whatever is good for the greater good. Not to follow anyone else, but to follow my heart and the truth.

Today is the kind of day

When all that’s left to say, is oh well

Oh well, anyway

Come sit down, breath and sigh

It might be hard, you don’t want to cry

But if you let go and breath again

You’ll know this is not the end

The wind, the wind blows me around

I can’t seem to stand up or sit down

My hair is all over in my face

I’m running, I’m running, I’m running

I’m running, I’m running, I’m running

And I can’t win the race

Oh well, anyway

I wrote this song back in 2003, but it’s relevance keeps surprising me over and over again. Just when you think life is gonna be okay, another challenge, another storm, another slap to the face. All in the name of keeping you humble, right? And also, how come it always feels like it’s the last time?

This thing about getting caught up in the race, letting ourselves get entangled in comparison and competition and being the best and current and all caught up with WHATEVER is a total sham. We really badly need to sit down and breath and find our own center. I can’t help but wonder if that’s why God gave us a little covid kick in the butt.

Find out what’s really important to you, and be there. Don’t be where people tell you to be, be where your absolute heart of hearts tells you to do. It’s okay to disappoint people and retract from their expectations. In fact, it’s completely necessary for you do this. Your self worth and dignity are only useful if they’re intact.

Also, this song may seem like I don’t support a good cry every now and then. On the contrary, this song is validating that sometimes we become so caught up running around that crying feels impossibly inconvenient. That sucks, and it’s not healthy. You have to cry sometimes. To release the fumes, let that stuff outta there. Otherwise it stays and grows and becomes loud and fussy and toxic. We may try to make quiet with numbing addictions, but it will just continue to grow.

Why not just let it go?

Let go of feeling like you can’t feel. Let go feeling like you have to be perfect. Let go of trying to measure up to measurments that aren’t yours. Let go and find yourself.

Sit down, breath and sigh

This album encompasses the pain from my childhood, never intending to paint a rosy picture. The sentiment behind Unpainting Roses is about the meticulous effort required to remove red paint (secrets, lies, and unrealistic expectations) from delicate rose petals. The roses representing my heart.

The queen sees a plain white roses as weak, so she tries to cover it up. However, it was the heavy, synthetic red paint that made them weak. Reducing their ability to grow, breath, and pollinate, not to mention their deadened fragrance and glow. We all battle with these suffocating expectations. Whether from a parent, our culture, or our own imagination we all battle our inner Queen of Hearts. Our goal is to be like the Alice I imagine, who willfully disobeys the orders and even gets friends to help her carefully remove all the paint from these once pure roses.

Many of the songs are abstract letters to myself. I’m the girl who “Sits Alone”, “Your Jail” is actually my jail, and those dark blue “Studio Eyes” are mine (even though my eyes are sorta yellow). Unveiled in the fresh air, the power of the dark vanishes. What a relief, and also magic.

Writing and releasing this album felt like a true release. The resolve I felt afterward created a whole new flood of songs. This time they were humming tunes of light and love. My hope is that the new songs will heal hearts in the same way they have healed mine.

As you listen to Unpainting Roses, consider it a dusty letter from the past, and look forward to the fresh morning rays of a Saturday Sunrise.