The prolific singer-songwriter Emily Duff was supposed to be on tour now in the United Kingdom, singing songs from her latest album Born on the Ground. But instead she’s grounded by the coronavirus that has cancelled or postponed gigs all over the country.
“One part Patti Smith, one part Muscle Shoals,” Rolling Stone has said of Duff, but she will have to wait to share that eclectic style with her fans.
At home with her family and her dog named Banjo, she is doing her part to flatten the curve from her West Village apartment. Creative and productive as always, she recently transformed her unreleased song “Don’t Get Me Started” to fit present circumstances by changing the lyrical focus from opioid addiction to coronavirus. (see video below).
Performing this beautiful, solemn song, she sings sitting on a rocking chair with a spare guitar in the background:
Just when you thought there were no more sad refrains
Winds of change come around
Blow you down like a hurricane
Ain’t it funny how it’s always the darkest out on your own front lawn …
Baby brother’s sick and I’m guessin’ it’s pretty bad
Now mama’s feeling crook and so is dear old dad
Man I ain’t scared of ISIS, I’m truly shaken from this coronavirus
Don’t get me started, don’t get me started.
She ponders if this is all a “really bad dream” and reminds us that the “personal is political” and that “the president, he don’t care.” The song encompasses the dread that many of us feel and the certainty that the federal government was late to protect its citizens and is not coming up with a stimulus package to help working people.
During this period of “stay at home,” Duff has been cooking a lot. She was a professional cook for many years before becoming a musician. “Cooking calms me … it puts me into a world of mise en place or everything in its place, which is how I would set up my station every day,” she said.
“It’s comforting to have routine and, as an artist, it helps to have that practice from something else. When chaos strikes, I play guitar and I cook to set my head back on straight.”
Duff’s latest album, produced by Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (who has played with The Del-Lords, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, the Bottle Rockets and others) in Brooklyn, features nine songs about relationship breakups in her past. Duff had a challenging childhood and was on her own at a young age. This album, recorded with her band (Scott Aldrich, Skip Ward, Charlie Giordano and Kenny Soule) along with guests Ambel, Mary Lee Kortes, Syd Straw and Tricia Scotti, enabled her to look at her past through the lens of a mature, happy place she is in now, and evaluate “where true love and happiness lives for me today.”
To support Duff, visit emilyduff.bandcamp.com.
NJArts.net’s Songs to See Us Through series is designed to spotlight songs relevant to the coronavirus crisis and encourage readers to support the artists who made them (and won’t be able to generate income via concerts at this time). Click here for links to all songs in the series.
We encourage artists to email us submissions (newly recorded, if possible) at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include links to sites such as Patreon and Venmo. Readers can also make suggestions via that email address.
CONTRIBUTE TO NJARTS.NET
Since launching in September 2014, NJArts.net has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence, though, depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of $10, or any other amount, to NJArts.net via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to NJ Arts Daily to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.