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Gun-Shy

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

I used to dream of being a professional songwriter. I didn’t want to be famous (still don’t) because I didn’t love to perform (still don’t) — but to be the mind and heart behind the music? That appealed to me so much.

Life has taken me in a different direction than music, at least in any sort of “professional” sense. I don’t dream of making songwriting my bread and butter anymore, mostly because (full disclosure) I don’t think I’m all that good. But every now and then, I follow an idea on a chase and wind up with a little something.

Here’s what I’ve discovered about writing songs: it’s my favorite thing, regardless of whether anything happens with those songs. I like the challenge of it — figuring out how to tell a story, turning words this way and that, and hopefully making someone feel something. That’s all. That’s my only aim in writing songs these days — to make someone feel something — even if the someone is just me. Which is easy because, as you know, I am all feelings, all the time. Cheap date.

All that to say, here’s a new song, recorded with my friend Jeff Harper in Nashville, TN. It’s called “Gun-Shy” because LOOK WHAT LOVE HAS DONE TO ME.

Thanks for listening!

Secret Santa [NEW SONG]

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

When I was a kid, my parents never told me that Santa was real. Quite the opposite, in fact: I was always explicitly told that Santa Claus is NOT real. That guy at the mall? Just a man in a costume — and no, you can’t go sit on his lap.

After all, Jesus is the reason for the season — and don’t you know what you get when you rearrange the letters in Santa? SATAN. Just kidding, my parents weren’t that conservative. But when it came to ol’ Kris Kringle, they were always straightforward and no nonsense.

Which is maybe why I’ve always found the idea of Santa to be so… creepy. You mean to tell me that a bearded stranger man is going to climb on my roof — click click click — slide down the chimney, and tiptoe around? He sees me when I’m sleeping? HE SEES ME WHEN I’M SLEEPING??

Nuh uh. No ma’am. I want no part of this.

Here’s a new song, “Secret Santa,” recorded in Nashville a few weeks back with my buddy Jeff Harper (all talent), and dedicated to my fellow holiday cynics. But I do hope it makes you a tiny bit happy, if for no other reason than I made it up in my head while walking through the Minnesota woods, laughing out loud like a madman.

If you’re craving a 2015 throwback, we recorded “Holly Jolly Melancholy Christmas,” too.

And finally, in lieu of a picture of me with Santa, of which there are obviously none, I give you this gem from my friend Duane. It’s just so perfect.

Happy holidays! Always stay awake!

santa

And a really great song about how love is the best

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

I mean, it’s only fair. (Watch until the end!)

Really great songs about how love is the worst

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

My friend Carin Towne introduced me to “The Blade,” and I can’t get over it. Ashley Monroe gets better and better.

And while we’re listening to sad stuff, I recently found this miserably beautiful cover by Rose Cousins. Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?

That’s all for today. [scurries back to cave]

Holly Jolly Melancholy Christmas

Friday, December 18th, 2015

I know, I know. You have been observing my grace and aplomb at every twist and turn of the journey, wondering how on earth I’m such a charmingly positive and rosy person. You are amazed at my buoyant spirit and sweet disposition. I am a delight.

Alas, this is not the truth – and fine, you knew it all along. I am often cranky, frequently discouraged, and usually hungry (unrelated). And the happy, happy holidays tend to poke at me, making me want to overcompensate for what often feels like forced joy with an extra number of eye rolls.

But recently, I decided to snap out of it. I squashed down my drama, laughed at my ridiculousness, and then wrote a little song that made me giggle — a reminder that being me, crankiness and all, is actually pretty dang fun.

Holly Jolly Melancholy Christmas from Annie Parsons on Vimeo.

In the palm of her hand

Friday, December 4th, 2015

… even via a YouTube video. Jennifer Nettles has always been the real thing. All she has to do is stand there – she still sings the fire out of anything.

“I wasn’t lost until you found me.”

My top 5 favorite songs

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Even if better songs are written in the future, I will always love these best.*

*Not a guarantee. Except for the first one, which will never, ever be unseated.

Lori McKenna, “The Luxury of Knowing”

Jonatha Brooke, “Because I Told You So”

Court Yard Hounds (w/ Jakob Dylan), “See You in the Spring”

Lee Ann Womack, “I May Hate Myself in the Morning”

Gretchen Peters, “Circus Girl”

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Runners up:

Gretchen Peters, “Five Minutes”

Patty Griffin, “Trapeze”

Sugarland, “Want To”

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Just ignore some of the YouTube videos, mmmkay? Just listen to the songs.

Also, I recently updated my About Me page. It’s nothing you don’t already know. But there it is.

Thoughts on some country songs

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Hi! Long time no write-to. I know that you’ll understand when I say that life has been bonkers. Moving? While exciting and fun, it’s not for the faint of heart – and this move from Denver to Minneapolis has been the most complicated I’ve ever experienced. So many changes all at once. So many snafus and logistical curveballs. So many emotions (yes, including the crying kind). Thankfully, I am FINALLY in my new house, and dying of love about the whole thing. Expect a post soon with pictures – but until then, let’s talk about the thing that we all have in common.

Country music.

Country music is the most popular genre in America – and given that 95% of this site’s readership is from the US of A, I can only deduce that a large portion of you are down with the twang. It’s a good club to be a part of, and we’re all in this together. Here are some of my (very valuable) thoughts on the songs that bind us together.

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CAM
I’ve said it before: I cannot get enough of her. Her voice is hickory and honey, straight as an arrow but jagged on the edges. It has been a long time since I’ve loved a gal straight out of the gate.

Listen and love:
Burning House
My Mistake
Heart Broke Heart

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CANAAN SMITH
If I hear “Love You Like That” one more time, I will throw myself in that same Mississippi River. (After all, I’ve got easy access now.)

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OLD DOMINION
One would think that a song that starts out, “Hey girl – wassup?” would be an immediate no-go. But oh man. I am really loving “Break Up With Him.” It’s everything I wish a hunky bearded man would sing to me – you know, if I was actually already dating someone, and he happened to be a loser (don’t put it past me).

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LUKE BRYAN
Back in June, Carin and I went to his show at Mile High in Denver. He opened the show with “Kick the Dust Up“– and given its total bro-status, I am almost ashamed at how much I love this song. I know every word. EVERY SINGLE WORD DO NOT CHALLENGE ME YOU WILL LOSE. I sing along full voice every time it comes on the radio – including the grunted “huh”s and “kick it”s.

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KEITH URBAN
I thought that the song of my summer would be “Somewhere In My Car” (again: I know every rapidly-sung word; I could win a karaoke contest with this one) – but then he had to throw out “John Cougar John Deere John 3:16.” This is in fact the song of my summer – but only because I WAS the prom queen.

(The only thing you get from being the prom queen is the ability 15 years later to say “I was the prom queen” – so one must take full advantage at every opportunity.)

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SAM HUNT
Without a doubt, he is the best looking man to ever walk the face of this planet – despite his questionable taste in jeans. “Leave the Night On” and “Take Your Time” were slam dunks – but “House Party”? I can’t. Something about the melody of the chorus is utterly grating. That doesn’t stop it from getting embedded in my brain, looping over and over and over until I, like the neighbors, want to call the cops.

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JASON ALDEAN
Every morning when my alarm clock goes off at 5:58am, “Tonight Looks Good On You” is playing. In addition the anachronistic placement, I don’t like the song. Why, you ask? I just don’t like it. I need not say any more – it’s my own personal non-preference. This is my blog, so feelings = verdict.

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Is Cam seriously the only girl I mentioned? I mean, I always adore Hillary from Lady A, and have found a guilty pleasure in Kelsea Ballerini’s “Love Me Like You Mean It.”

But… ladies? Where are you? WE NEED YOU SO BAD.

Because you’ve all seen this, right?

I’m missing Trisha, and Martina, and Patty Loveless, and most of all, the Dixie Chicks.

Ribbons and bows, X’s and O’s,
Annie

Cam

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

I hope you’ve heard about Cam. I can’t get enough of this voice.

North

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

If you know my sister Becca, you know she’s all about dogs. She always has been; her first word was “woof-woof.” In addition to running a dog rescue (whence came Foxy!), she has three dogs of her own – and they’re like her kids. So when she and my brother-in-law decided to go to Seattle, they called in only the best.

Annie the Dog Nanny.

Foxy and I moved into Becca and Michael’s house on Saturday night, and it’s been the Wild West ever since. I’m playing defense against a collective 200 pounds of canine. Things I will need to replace before they get home: Bulleit and a lot of chocolate chips.

In the midst of it all, I am wrapping up my job, selling my house, and looking for a new place to live – because I forgot to tell you:

I’m moving to Minnesota.

Two weeks ago, I gave my notice at work. I am leaving what has been a gift of a job for what is sure to be a challenging, soulful adventure of a next chapter: I’m moving to Minneapolis to work for my favorite public radio show, On Being with Krista Tippett.

For over eight years, this has been a blog mostly about my feelings – so don’t think I’m going to stop now.

What can I say about my 5 ½ years in Denver? They have been the toughest years of my life, minus 6th grade when all of the girls turned mean. Cancer brought me here, divorce made me stay. I watched my family disintegrate, and a few relationships of my own. I’ve said such horrible things to God, it’s a wonder he still loves me. I’ve lost hope, battled depression, and numbed the pain with all sorts of soul novocain.

Denver made me write this song. (And as always, forgive the guitar.)

[UPDATE: Song has been taken down. Maybe you’ll hear it again someday.]

But it’s not lost on me that the hardest years were spent in the most beautiful place. It’s like someone knew I would need the beauty.

I’ve walked thousands and thousands of miles. I’ve climbed mountains – I’m up to 35 14ers, with 19 to go. I spent 11 days on a solo backpacking trip, digging deeper than I knew I could dig. I’ve learned to own my finances, my career, a dog, and a house. If Seattle is where I became Annie and Nashville is where I became a woman (gross, sorry for saying that), Denver is where I became an adult – a reluctant transition, but true nonetheless. I’ve made a handful of incredible girlfriends, the kind that make it hard to leave. I’ve been to counseling – gracious, have I been to counseling. I’ve stopped blaming my parents for everything that’s wrong in my life.

As it turns out, I am sad to leave Denver – but not as excited as I am for a new adventure.

I will miss my perfect tiny house and my friends and the weather and the mountains. But I know that there’s something for me in Minnesota – lakes and forests and people and meaningful work. And mosquitos. And snow. But I’m choosing to believe that richness awaits. I can’t wait to tell you about it. I can’t wait to learn it for myself. I might even start going to church again.

Until then, I am frantically wrapping up my time with LÄRABAR/General Mills. Yesterday I wrote a “manual” for how to do my job. So far it’s 17 pages long. I’m getting my ducks in a row to sell my house, and looking for another in Minneapolis (tell me, is 40% of my income too much to spend on a mortgage?).

And I’m dog-sitting for my sister. Maybe these dogs will come visit me in Minnesota.

My roots are up, and I’m headed north. There is so much to be nervous about, and so much to be grateful for. Thanks for sticking with me, no matter the gap between posts, no matter the city in which I live.

See you soon, Minneapolis!

Minneapolis