As a songwriter and singer, I never really got into doing covers. I wanted to write my own tunes, and if I'm honest, I've never really gotten that good on my instrument, so learning other tunes was beyond my skill set. But when I met Abhai Raj, he insisted I begin to learn covers. One--because he loved them; Two--because it really does increase your skill set to learn great songs; and Three--because he thought I needed to be more humble in my relationship to my music, and playing other people's tunes was a step in that direction!
Cut to The Pearl: Maiden, Mother, Crone--Abhai Raj insisted that if I were dedicating the album to Janis Joplin then I had to include one of her tunes. Well, finding a song of hers that was elevating enough for a kirtan album was a bit of a challenge, as you can imagine. Genius, yes; Cherdi Kala, not so much! But we found an old Spiritual that she covered, Down on Me, that I liked and knew I could sing and then we paired it with the shabad that Yogi Bhajan referred to as the Victory Song for Women, I-yaanrhee-ai Man Rakha-ay Karay (sp?). When you read the translation as a Westerner you think, what? How is this a victory song? But the gurbani works on the subconscious patterns in our brains to rewrite them. So that the essential message of the shabad is what remains: Why are you looking outside of yourself for approval, woman? You already have all the wisdom within you. When paired with Down on Me, which tells the story of the disposessed, it makes a quixotic combination.
In a world where women's rights are still in question, even here in the United States, much less around the world, I hope this song will speak to the arcane rhetorical positions that keep women down even while it subliminally rewrites our subconscious to experience our own value and victory!