Shanna Underwood

Shanna UnderwoodFieldnotes From a Caravan is a collection of songs that was written from Maine to Nashville, and from Thailand to Nepal. During a six month teaching assignment in Bode, Bhaktapur, Nepal, to which Betty, a cheap, stickered acoustic traveled, a few songs that have really stuck with me were penned.

I made the fatal flaw of many a traveler, and fell in love with my fixer, the person who is responsible for helping with translation, getting a person settled, and showing them around.  This wonderfully open hearted young man with enormous eyes would take me on motorbike rides through the mountains, and it became clear it wasn't purely to show me the sights. When it became suspicious to the locals that we were spending so much time together, I headed back to the city to visit my friend Mamata, who is one of the only self-made, divorced, successful business women in a country where divorce is still practically unheard of.

The song Appalachia to the Himalayas started in her kitchen as an idea to write about the mountains in Nepal, but feeling slightly lonely in Kathmandu, and thinking about my home state of Maine, where I'd hardly spent any time in years, one of the most striking features of Maine, the seasons, starting coming up as s theme.  The seasons are extremely distinct, and have a huge bearing on people's moods, and hence their relationships.  The song hints at a somewhat rocky relationship and follows it through the four seasons starting with a summer fling through to the next summer.  It's a song that I wrote purely for myself, that has, to my surprise, struck a chord with a lot of folks.

Production-wise, the drummer, Eric Elsner, really took to this song, and had great ideas for musically creating the seasons to go along with the lyrics.  He brought in all kinds of percussive toys, and improvised a Japanese drum out of a bass drum, some tape, and a couple of chairs.

From the tepid waters of Sebago Lake, to the metallic smell of cold air on the ocean, to a cool June rain, this song goes through the senses of the seasons and feeling of longing. Not everyone can travel, but I hope in my songs to bring my travels to you.


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