I’ve released two rock albums since transitioning. Moreover, these are the only albums I’ve ever released. I wrote all the songs for these albums post-transition… except one. Here I talk about that one and why I kept it.
The song is called “Voice in the Distance” and it appears on my debut album “City of God”.
First, it makes more sense to look at the songs I left behind, rather than the one I kept. I wanted a musical reset since the emotional upheaval that accompanied my transition drove the construction of “City of God”. I developed a new sound at that time and wanted to leave my old sound behind, just like I was developing a new (public) identity and leaving my old one behind.
ASIDE: The intersection of my transgender experience and several songs on both my albums “City of God” and “Light Me Up and Love the Bomb” is explored in the post “this is transgender music” if you are interested.
So that explains why I did not keep most of my old songs. But what about “Voice in the Distance”? Why did I retain and promote it?
First and foremost, I thought it was the best song I had written pre-transition and worth preserving in an artistic sense. Moreover, it anticipated the sound I was to develop post-transition. So musically it belonged with my newer material.
Second, I did not have any subconscious association between that song and masculinity. My other pre-transition songs were written for all guy bands.
Finally, “Voice in the Distance” is a spiritual song—but not “in your face” about it—that really transcends gender. I relied on every ounce of spirituality I held to survive my transition, and so spirituality belonged on the debut album. Even the debut album’s name “City of God” is spiritual. So in that way “Voice in the Distance” looked forward in time, even though I wrote it about nine years prior to writing “Talk”, my first post-transition song.
Transition requires a life trajectory of constant evolution. This provides a wellspring of artistic material and artistic synthesis.
BTW: “Voice in the Distance” is one of my favorite pieces to perform live. First and foremost, I’m good at performing it, as I’ve played it often and had it for so many years. Also, people like it! More importantly, I enjoy playing it. The tune is complicated enough to satisfy my intellect and simple enough (for my guitar/voice skill) to perform effortlessly.