On July 28th, 2020 I recorded and posted a video on my YouTube channel. I’m going to post it below, but fair warning, this video has been flagged by people close to me as unsettling, so you might feel the same.
There’s nothing graphic, but I do say “the F word” and cry a little (a lot).
If that’s not up your alley, don’t view it.
Warning: This video may be uncomfortable for some viewers. So might the text that follows.
About a month or so before I decided to record this cover song, Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World had posted a key on his Instagram page. I’ve gone ahead and pulled a screenshot of the image (normally, I’d embed, but if he ever takes this down, you won’t be able to view the photo I’m referring to).
When I saw this post I immediately went back to listen to “Pol Roger” and I heard it in a new way for the first time, and by that I mean lyrically. It’s 6 minutes and 47 seconds long; Mine is shorter.
In the caption of the Instagram post, Jim explains this is literal. Obviously, it’s supported by the picture. From what I’ve since read about this Pol Roger key, it’s from a Scottish hotel that he or the band as a whole was staying at while on a tour. The hotel is famous for its rooms all being named after different types of champagne and liquor. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t know the name of the hotel to verify this myself.
At the time, I was still reasonably newly sober and fast approaching my “Champagne Birthday”.
I had to cover this song, and I HAD to do it on my Champagne Birthday. (This was my internal gut instinct speaking).
I stopped drinking on March 13th, 2020, so by the time this cover song was posted, I had been without the crutch of alcohol for exactly 137 days, or 19 weeks and 4 days (thanks timeanddate.com for the quick calculation).
For those of you who haven’t heard of a “Champagne Birthday”, here’s what I’ve been told about it my whole life and have never really looked up any other explanation: your champagne birthday is the day you turn the same age as the number on the calendar you were born. For me, this meant when I turned 30 on July 30th 2020, it was cause for celebration.
By this logic many people don’t get to celebrate a Champagne birthday. A shame, depending on who you are. For example, if you were born on the 2nd of any month, well you certainly wouldn’t remember your Champagne Birthday now would you? And it’d be weird if your parents made you drink it.
I was also told that this is something celebrated mainly in Italian culture, and as a Polish-Canadian it was meaningless to me for many reasons, including of course the fact that I had quit drinking (that’s a big one!).
I grew up in a highly concentrated Italian community in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, but of course, I don’t identify in any way as Italian. I also mention this because I find it quite funny; Champagne is named after the region in France in which it is made and as such only 1 of it truly exists, much like Kentucky Bourbon is famous for being made, well, in Kentucky.
I felt compelled to cover this song for several reasons. For starters, as I mentioned a little bit above, when I re-listened to this track on this day in July, it spoke to me in a new way. As if I understood the lyrics of this album on a much more intimate level than ever before (and trust me, I’ve given this band a few spins).
It was around this time I made the decision to divorce my husband. For reasons I won’t get into here, it simply wasn’t working. I was nervous about bringing this up but eventually just said something to the effect of, “it’s not working and I’m done.”
I had only gotten married on June 23rd, 2018 and this in itself was a hard pill to swallow. “What a waste of time and money,” I continue to think to myself to this day.
But the bigger one that circulated around me was, “wow, I am so lucky to be alive today.”
I had started experimenting with alcohol at a young age. I was 12 years old when I had my first of several shots of Tequila.
I was 13 when I started experimenting with vodka and beer. And whatever else my friends and I came across and felt like messing around with. The same summer, and the weekends and summers that would follow. Sometimes weekdays, honestly who can keep track when you’re drunk?
My parents have a big bar in our basement, but that stuff I’ve never touched. My dad has collected many bottles from his travels around the world and they’re show pieces. As young kids, my friends and I would open the ones (that my brothers had otherwise already opened) and smell them.
“This is disgusting! Here, you smell this one now!”
Ironic, now, when I think about those early days.
I’ve said before Jimmy Eat World is my favourite band and it’s because of the moments of clarity like this one I receive from them. There’s a story for every lyric, and I have one for every one of their songs. My own story. My interpretation.
This is why I started the Jaimee Eat World project, but it’ll take some time. These stories are not easy for me to tell and retell, I’ve kept many of them safe inside my own heart for years. But that’s something I’ll get into later.
The other thing that was happening in my life at this time was that I was fast approaching the official release of my first “single” and first EP as Crooked Forest. It’s called A Quiet Place To Scream, and the single is called “Champagne Birthday“. You can listen to it on all of my social media channels basically, but I’ll post it here from YouTube for easy listening.
Of course my “Champagne Birthday” is not about “Pol Roger” nor is it about a hotel or any champagne in particular necessarily, but I’ll save that for another blog post (which I’ll later come back here, edit this post, and then link to). And of course, it’s not actually about my Champagne Birthday, although I did decide to release it on that date for that reason.
In a lot of ways the 3 songs I chose to feature on A Quiet Place To Scream were because of this experience I had while re-listening to Pol Roger.
The simple truth is, I was trying to show Jim Adkins the 3 styles of music I felt were my “sound” and what I wanted to create going forward. They were a pitch, but they were also of course the 3 that I felt represented me as a human being the best, lyrically and melodically. It’s always been important to me that I stay true to myself and my message in this “band” project, and while that message alters shape depending on what social medium I’m using, it’s always the same core message.
Tell your story because your voice is important. Nobody can tell it like you. Be honest and let it out, scream it if you need to.
“Believe your voice can mean something.”– Jimmy Eat World (name that tune!)
Since the beginning of this project I’ve learned a lot about myself and the people around me. I’ve cut out more people from my life than I can keep track of since removing alcohol from my system. But one of the biggest things I still struggle with is being honest to myself and the message of my art without hurting the people I love when I do it.
July 29th, 2020
The day after I posted this video I got a phone call. People in my family wanted to make sure I was okay.
“Your dad saw your video and he turned white as a ghost.”
My heart sank.
“I’m fine, really.”
It’s just some tears.
“We’re going to come over for your birthday tomorrow,” (where “we” meant, my mother and sister).
“I’d really rather you not, I’d like to spend the day to myself.”
Eventually after some back and fourth, they seemed to understand I really didn’t need to see anybody and frankly I really didn’t want to. My best friend had also told me he’d come over for my birthday, I explained the same thing and he replied, “a little weird but no problem Jaimee, you know I’m here.” He respected my wish. The fact is I had spend virtually every day since March 13th, 2020 on my own and I was entirely comfortable in my own home and skin at that time; I realized I really enjoy my space because it allows me the energy to create.
July 30th, 2020
A Quiet Place to Scream went live at midnight. Right on time, a true “Champagne” celebration, Crooked Forest style. I was so proud of myself. I did everything myself except the album artwork which was done by an artist I found online and fit the theme of the record perfectly. I of course paid them for their work but need to go back to source the credit for them.
I had a great morning. I drank my coffee on the deck while Dakota played in the yard. I played my favourite songs on Spotify and listened to Michelle Obama’s podcast (it’s very interesting).
The sun was shining and I felt great.
And then there was a knock on my gate; My sister and mom had come over to surprise me.
And the day got worse from there.
I’m going to stop this post here because I think the subsequent events that followed deserve its own post, but I will say that if someone you care about requests you give them space – give them space.
The video made people in my family think I was suicidal.
Me, suicidal? Absolutely not.
I have lost a friend to suicide and seeing first hand the pain and trauma it unleashed on mutual friends of ours is something I can never let go of. I would never to the same to anyone that knows me, certainly not in my right mind. I released a quick cut of my song “Driveway” which is about this friend; his name is Robert Nason.
The Crooked Forest project is about a lot of things, but in simple terms it’s about awareness. Awareness for mental health initiatives, awareness for warning signs of someone who needs help.
In retrospect, I guess I did a better job of that than I thought, and a terrible job at it all at once. I thought it didn’t matter to explain the video at the time, so I never did and promptly pulled it from my channel.
I am not a mental health professional, I’m just a girl who creates music about life and people. I might still make mistakes along the way but the whole point of this band is to help people who might not know they need help. I was a heavy out of control drinker for 18 years, and nobody batted an eye about it until I quit.
Thanks for reading this today and I hope this helps clear up a little bit about this cover song performance.
If you have any questions, as always, feel free to reach out.
Mental Health Resources (Canada):
CAMH: The Center for Addiction and Mental Health
ACAMH: The Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Kids Help Phone (Text a Crisis Responder at 686868)
& many more including USA & Global Outreach on my Resources Page (updating as I go).
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