up.rooted: the story behind the new album title
In the age of iTunes, Spotify and playlists, it seems silly to fret over things like album titles and song order. But we musicians do. We fret because we care. A lot. After all, who goes to the movie with no title or reads the unnamed book? You probably wouldn’t be too inclined to buy “gina’s new album” or tell your friends about that rando collection of music Gina just made, so… a title!
Since titling my first record was a two-month process of list-making and opinion polls, I was determined not to repeat the madness this go-round. I eased into it, starting with the song titles — good, but none of them weighty enough to carry the album. Diving into the lyrics, I saw some interesting themes bubble to the surface: distance, travel, heartache, connection to the earth (and the loss of it), disparity, crossing borders, longing, discovery.
Everything regarding imaging, packaging and promotion is heavily tied to the album title (i.e. deadlines! stress!), so I lit each theme like incense and took a deep breath, hoping the right fragrance would find me.
On an impulse errand (that I had zero time for) I stopped by the library and found the words “Mexican Enough” staring back at me from the shelf. The author, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, had me laughing to tears with her first book, so I snatched it up and found our stories oddly similar: Latina by nature, gringa by nurture, seeks to uncover and connect with her lost Latin roots. Picking up where I’d left off one morning, I opened the book and couldn’t read past the word uprooted.
1. to pull out by the roots.
2. to displace, as from a home or country; tear away, as from customs or a way of life.
So why the period?
The songs on this album tell about a time of discovery for me, a moving forward: up. They also tell the story of one finding peace in the present, where she’s standing, who she is: rooted. And yet there’s an ever-present restlessness, a need to uncover a past that’s been lost, to find her place among a people whose blood she shares but whose injustices she’s been spared: uprooted. How can something be both up and rooted? The word itself seems torn between two worlds, longing to find its place. And so am I: up.rooted.
And now a visual representation of the title by friend and fan, Lobo Corona…
(not the album artwork)
PS: After finishing the book, I flipped back to the beginning and found this poignant inscription on the dedication page…
Se llevaron nuestros frutos, cortaron nuestras ramas, quemaron nuestro tronco, pero no pudieron arrancar nuestras raices. -Popol Vuh
They stole our fruit, cut our branches, burned our trunk, but they could not unearth our roots. -from the Mayan “Book of the People”