Album Notes: If I Only Could


In taking a break from writing about all the tragedy and trauma in one life, I began thinking about the creative process which has helped to heal me over time through writing. For many years, I worked with artists writing songs in a collaborative way. Having been in almost 1/2 dozen bands from high school to present, I sharpened my skills writing poetry, creative short stories, and songs. It wasn’t until I met my husband, Jason, in 1997 that I began writing songs that I actually liked!

Our first album, Intramission, released in 2004 was my first attempt to really put something out there for the world to see the real me. I wasn’t writing to sell records or win popularity contests. I was writing and producing as part of my process, much like writing this blog now. Though the first song I wrote for the album was I Ever Never, I thought I’d go through the albums in detail, song by song, explaining the inspiration for each, printing the lyrics here, and unearthing the significance of writing the songs when I did.

If I Only Could became track #1 on Intramission because it had a strong opening and a hook that seemed memorable to those who listened to it. It was a dark song filled with electric guitars, bass and drums and is one of the more rock genre of songs that we have ever produced.

I wrote it about all the mistakes we make in friendships, familial relationships, and love affairs. There is a twisty way in which I take responsibility and point the finger in the same breath in this song. So, it is both an apology and an accusation of wrong doing. I sing “If you only knew, just what I’d been through, you’d know I did the best I could, and if you only could tell me what it is that you would do if it were you?” It was definitely a cry for compassion and understanding, wrapped up in an “I’m sorry” letter. It was a message to those I had hurt and others who had hurt me. The passionate vocal reveals the emotion behind the message.

Jason and I recorded most if it in a trailer, believe it or not. Some was done in mobile locations at friends houses in Southern California, and then was mixed in Montana. but some it was recorded in a 27-ft travel trailer on location off a generator in Pinion Flats near Palm Desert while we took time out to rest, relax, and record! My uncle, Robb recorded the solo for the song and he had the trailer rockin’ back and forth while he laid down the lead. Good times.

I hope you’ll stop by CD Baby at the link above and listen to a sample of the song and perhaps even spend a few bucks grabbing the digital download of the record and go back in time to lis-zen to our humble beginnings as Joan Zen. Tomorrow, I’ll be writing about the name Joan Zen and how it became my pseudonym.