As I write this, the plane dad’s taking to get him home from a three month stint fighting for his life is likely landing on this frozen tundra of a place. He won this battle, and four years ago at the beginning of a frigid January, he miraculously won another one, when a valve in his heart tore open and, against all odds, he made it home.
I wrote Northern Lights, a tribute to his will to live, in the passenger seat of a long drive home that winter, watching the lights of the aurora bounce and dance across the back sky, offering a flicker of hope in the longest, coldest season.
Dad and I recorded the song in Nashville the following year and have played it at select shows since its release.
For some reason, it’s taken almost three full winters to finish and release this video. How fitting, on his homecoming, it is ready to be shared today.
Welcome home Dad. May you live to be that old cowboy they said you’d be.
Yesterday the wind blew snow across the plains at 60 miles per hour at times. I got out of bed at 6 am after a completely sleepless night with my one-year-old. I climbed in the warm shower and got my hair washed and legs shaved. I pulled on my robe and shuffled downstairs to wake my finally sleeping daughter, to kiss her cheeks, to change her diaper, to get her dressed, to send her out the door with her dad so she could spend a day at daycare and I could drive in the wind three hours across the state for work and then drive myself home again hopefully in time to miss the dangerous and snowy dark and to rock my baby to sleep.
I’m a mother living on a 100+ homestead at the end of a long winter.
Some days I feel lonesome and isolated.
Most days I feel fortunate.
Every day I think of the women in my family who raised kids before me out here on the edge of the badlands before electricity, before telephones, before washing machines and the conveniences of our modern world that make it easier for women like me to pursue my own dreams.
My grandmother Edith as a young woman helping on her family farm
I wish I could talk about dreams with my great grandmother Gudrun who came to the United States from Norway at sixteen years old and raised twelve children out here in the early 1900s, in all our brutal seasons.
Great Grandma Gudrun with her twelve children, my grandma Edith in the center in the plaid and bow
I wish I could talk dreams with my grandma Edith, one of Gudrun’s middle daughters, who grew up on that homestead with eleven siblings, married the neighbor boy, taught school children on the reservation next to the ranch, raised three kids and took many others into their small home and worked cattle alongside her husband, making sure breakfast was served in the morning and supper was on the table at night.
Grandma Edith holding me
I wish I could talk dreams with my great-grandma Eleanore, who raised two boys on her own as a working woman after the war in a time where single mothers weren’t a common thing.
And I am so grateful I can talk dreams with my mother’s mother, my grandma G. I’m grateful that I’ve taken the time to ask her what it meant to raise four girls in the fifties and sixties as a working career woman. I’m grateful she’s shared with me the struggles and accomplishments she’s found so important to her and to the lives of her daughters so that I can better understand how far we’ve come.
My grandma Ginny with three of her four daughters, two of her four granddaughters and one of her two great granddaughters.
And more than anything, I am thankful for my own mother who taught me to persevere, to pay attention, to laugh, to be kind, to recognize the struggles and have compassion for those different than you, to never be the victim and to work hard.
Always work hard.
I have become the woman I am today because of the women they were yesterday.
Let’s celebrate that strength in our past and look to the future with muscles flexed today.
For a little motivation, a little celebratory music, here’s “Work Girl.”
The first video off of my Nashville Album “Northern Lights” is one of my favorite songs on the album.
It’s an anthem to working women, written while I was shoveling scoria in the driveway, determined to get a job done while thinking, with the rhythm of the shovel, about the women who raised me and what life must have been like out here at a time without running water, Amazon.com or a deep freeze.
A woman’s work, across all parts of the country, is a complicated balance of finding the best way to provide time and resources to her family, flexing her muscles in all corners of her world, whether in the office, the kitchen, the boardroom, on the back of a horse or behind a book during her children’s bedtime.
There are plenty of songs written for the working man, the backbone of America, but I felt women needed an anthem. Because their backs are in the game too. So I made one.
During my live shows I invite the little girls to come up on stage to dance and show me their muscles. Their enthusiasm and eagerness to show their spirit inspires me.
I hope this song and video inspires you too.
A special thanks to all the real working Western North Dakota women featured in the video. And to the Pioneer Museum of McKenzie County for providing access to the old photos that represent our working women heritage.
The Official Music Video for “A Girl Needs a Dog” starring YOU and your dogs is ready for viewing.
This truly was one of my favorite projects, getting a glimpse into the bond you ladies share with your pets was inspiring and heartwarming.
Because we had so many submissions, I’m so sorry that we couldn’t fit them all in, but I think it was the perfect way to capture the essence of this song. I couldn’t help but smile all the way through.
And now for another chance to win something.
Please SHARE this video with your dogloving friends, either on Facebook, Twitter or here on this blog, and be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of my new album “Northern Lights” when it’s available this spring!
Thanks again for playing along. And thanks for taking such good care of each other.
So I made it home safe and sound from Nashville (and managed to steer clear of the Nude Karaoke).
I’m going to tell you all about it this week when I have a minute to gather up the clothing explosion that happened in my room upon my arrival, and then maybe think about the whole Christmas cards and gift thing, but if you’re curious, here’s a little write up the Fargo Forum did on my trip. They called me up on day two of my visit to see how things were going.
They were going swimmingly, I tell you. It has been such an awesome experience and I can’t wait to get back there and finish it up!
But there was more work to be done as soon as I got home. We had to get started on the video for “A Girl Needs a Dog” before Santa starts making his way across the sky.
I received so many wonderful photos of you ladies and your dogs, I can’t even tell you. This has been one of my favorite projects, getting to see you and your pooches, and hear your stories about what your furry friends mean to you.
So I got home on Saturday at noon, threw on a flannel and made sure I didn’t have any boogers in my nose and went out with my friend Nolan with Quantum Productions to get some footage of me singing and playing with my hounds out and about in the barnyard.
There was mud. There was ecstatic and obnoxious jumping. There was barking and stick chewing and running and howling.
Yes, there was howling.
It was a great time. I can’t wait for you all to see how it turns out. Funny thing about this place I’ve created here, seems from Australia to Alaska, we all have more in common than we think.
And our love of our pets seems to be one of them.
I’m expecting the video to be done before Christmas. Until then, enjoy the live version filmed from the back pasture at the Red Ants Pants Music Festival this summer.
Learn the words so you can sing along!
Thanks for all of your support and love.
I’m off now to tackle that pile of dirty socks strung out on my bedroom floor…
One of my favorite parts about making and performing music is meeting the people who have found they can relate to the songs I write. I’ve been performing out and about in support of my last album “Nothing’s Forever” since it’s release in 2012.
Since then I’ve hosted CD release parties, been hired as the opening act for big names, have been the main event myself, joined up with another band of great musicians, sat around campfires and house parties, performed at bars, major events, and festivals surrounded by so much intimidating talent it made my heart beat out of my chest and,
of course, met hundreds of wonderful people along the way who take the time to tell me that they can relate…
To the songs about rural living. To the cowboys in the music. To leaving the light on for the people they love. To the weather so cold it freezes your bones. To the loneliness for a familiar place. To being so happy you have to sing it louder.
What was a fun, catchy song that almost didn’t make it on the album surprisingly turned into an anthem for the women out there listening and singing along, thinking about all the times that dog of hers was the only one who got it.
The only one who understood when there were no words.
The most loyal. The most sincere. One of her favorite things about this life, even when he poops on her rug or chews her favorite pair of boots or tears through the kitchen screen door in a thunderstorm.
With each show, after talking to the crowd and watching you sing along, I understood more and more that this song needed to be written. It was a story that hadn’t really been told yet. A simple one, but apparently, an experience many of us share.
A girl needs a dog in times like these Some hope and a plan Clarity A girl needs a bike or her own car keys A girl needs a dog
A girl needs a dog
You showed me photos of your pets, sent me emails with stories about how the two of you found each other. There were labs and shitzus, mutts, poodles, an array of cow dogs, dozens of pugs and even one missing an eye like my lost but not forgotten Chug the Pug.
You told me about your daughter and how she begged for a puppy. You sent the song on to your nieces and granddaughters. Your sister who brings her Chihuahua everywhere.
What a thing to come together in the name of a song about a dog.
But as much as this song is about our furry companions, it was written as an anthem to a girl finding her independence and being comfortable and strong in it. And sometimes, when you’re unsure about it all, that dog helps hold us up a little.
That’s what I think anyway.
Turns out, that’s what you think too.
Anyway, in a few weeks I’m heading to Nashville to record another album. Since the release of “Nothing’s Forever”, I’ve been writing and re-writing and putting new songs together, songs that will mark a different time here in this place that I love, a place that’s changing every day, but still so much a piece of me.
There will be stories in these songs about loss and hope, love and home and work and the rain pouring down on a hot summer day.
But before I move on to the next project, I want to finish this one. I need to make “A Girl Needs a Dog” come to life.
So here’s the plan. I need your help. I want to see you with your pooch in action and I want to feature you in a video for the song. You know your dog is the best, so why not show her off?!
So here’s the task my loyal listeners with loyal canine companions. Send a video clip (video is preferred) or photo of you and your dog (or your sister and her dog, or your wife and her dog, or your daughter and her dog…you get the point) working, playing, getting into trouble or just hanging out to email@example.com and I will feature them in a music video for “A Girl Needs a Dog.”
To thank you for your help in this effort, the first fifteen women who shares her video/photo will receive a free “A Girl Needs a Dog” t-shirt featuring a sketch of the beautiful one-eyed pug. Simply include your address and size in the email (M, L, XL, 2XL)
The rest of you will receive a free track of the song as a thanks for sharing, and of course, world wide fame for you and your beloved pooch in the video.
Thank you for helping to make this song come to life and for celebrating and taking such good care of all of those awesome dogs out there.
I’m sure they’re so happy to be taking care of you too.
The premier of the music video for my song “Boomtown” happens today! I hope it give your a glimpse into the some of the stories hanging around Boomtown. I am so happy and excited to have this out in the world.
Thanks to Nolan with Quantum Productions and to those willing to share their stories with us that day.