“One Day,” the song that lent its name to The Brooklyn Players Reading Society’s new EP, was the very first song I ever wrote. I was 23, working in coffee shops, unsure about what I wanted in life and anxious as hell about it. The words to this song had been floating around my brain for weeks, but I hadn’t yet recognized them as lyrics. I was confident in my identity as a writer, but my anxiety disorder had buried the musician in me long ago. The idea of singing my words had never occurred to me.
And then one evening, after a profound conversation with Dave in which he’d convinced me to try making music again, I found myself on the G train, lugging an enormous 88-key Yamaha home from Guitar Center, listening to those words bounce around my head.
At first I only played through scales and a few songs I remembered from talent shows, but over time, I started improvising a little – something I’d never done before. My past life as a musician had been focused on playing sheet music perfectly, and this focus only fed my anxiety. The act of sitting down and playing whatever I wanted felt freeing, empowering even.
I kept returning to a simple bass groove with a syncopated melody over it, but I was never quite satisfied. The words in my head continually protruded themselves into my mouth, daring me to let them out. One day, when I was certain that Dave and our across-the-hall neighbor were both at work and therefore unable to hear me, I finally decided to give it a try. Heart pounding, I opened my lips and sang. It was scary, but it was also amazing, and the more I sang, the better it felt.
It took a couple of weeks to work up enough courage to play my song for Dave – so long as he sat in a separate room of the apartment in silence with the lights out – but that was enough to urge me on. “One Day” grew from there until a few years later, I got up on a stage, sat behind my keyboard and started singing into a mic, Dave on the drums beside me. My fingers shook, my breath came in spurts, and I wanted to puke, but I didn’t. Somehow, I made it through the song, and when the crowd clapped and “woo”-ed for us at the end, a rush of pure glee came over me. I understood for the very first time that performing could actually be fun.
“One Day” has morphed and grown over the years, but still, whenever I play it, I feel a special kind of contentment settle in me, like all the different versions of myself are coming home together, warm and safe inside this song.