The “OK Highway” Special

“OK Highway” Release

My newest single “OK Highway” is out as of this morning at 12:00am! Click on the image below to find it on your preferred streaming service.

Listen to “OK Highway”

Listen to your heart’s content and remember that sharing is caring!

Story Time: The Long and Short of It

The short first:

I fell apart in San Francisco and then put myself back together on the way home to Virginia.

Now for the long:

I feel like the grown-ups were always day-dreaming about retiring and driving across the country when I was growing up. I’d see older couples with camper trailers and RVs sitting still in their driveways like mausoleums. I only ever knew of one family actually taking the drive, and they were known as a bit off their rockers.

My mom told me stories about when she and her mother and her mother’s mother drove across the country when she was sixteen. Gambling and then getting kicked out of casinos was the highlight for her. She went with her mother again a few years ago but wouldn’t let me join them because she had adulterous half-plans bopping about in her head. It was probably for the best. She was hateful, toxic, and abusive my whole childhood; I wouldn’t want her shadowing the sunshine of my own cross-continental pilgrimage.

All of this sparked my own little fire for dreaming of driving across the country though – and doing so long before retirement. I’d fantasize about it almost every day – ditching everything and everyone and just taking off in my car to explore the United States. I thought I’d drive until I found somewhere nobody knew me, somewhere I could hide in peace and quiet.

When I met Tan, we lay around in bed one night trading dreams as lovers do. I told him about this one. He told me he wanted to come too. And he meant it, so we ditched everything and everyone and just took off in my car to explore the United States.

We found plenty of peaceful, quiet hiding spots. We visited each other’s people in Kentucky, Colorado, and California. We basked in the overwhelming beauty of waterfalls and fields and mountains and deserts and everything between; the United States are rich in natural splendor.

I accepted that I’d finally found a good partner.

There was a little Maddi – before the abuse got really bad in my childhood – that I thought I had lost forever. I had mourned her because I thought she was the truest version of me that had existed and that her light was extinguished in all of the darkness I walked through between then and now. But driving across the country with Tan as my partner, I felt like her again – vivacious, silly, sweet.

Even with my truest self resurfacing, I knew there would be hiccups because I have complex post-traumatic stress disorder. I warned Tan that I wouldn’t be able to isolate myself from him if it got bad during our getaway. I had a rough go of it the day we drove into Moab, but we got through it with relative ease.

“OK Highway” picks up in San Francisco when I seriously lost my damned mind. I had a major CPTSD event, and we ended up having to bunker down in a hotel for the night. It was a rough ride, but after an hours-long attack plagued with full-fledged flashbacks, I was exhausted enough to stay in the room alone while Tan went to visit his cousin.

I started writing this song. I was too empty to write anything more than the first eight lines. I cried to myself, singing them and rocking back and forth with my guitar.

The next morning we rested until checkout and then resumed the drive. I showed Tan the start of the song and we talked about how perfection involves a lot of imperfection. I mused about how much I truly loved the quiet corner I’d built for myself in Virginia.

Down the coast, I felt in my bones how surreal it is to be myself, living this story in this body on this Earth. I breathed into it; I dove deep into the delicious sensation of otherness.

We were driving around the streets of Los Angeles looking for the Hollywood sign late one night and we couldn’t find the damned thing anywhere. That may seem like an indication that we are missing screws, but I think the inner wind was setting us up for something else.

We were rolling slowly around a closed Griffith Park when we spotted two shiny black cars. Blood on the street. A red stoplight. And then I locked eyes with a coyote. Still life suspended. A dart in her shoulder. Her companion by her side. I felt her, and she felt her otherness just like me – how surreal it was to be her, living that story in that body on this Earth.

Being with her in that moment felt like my sign.

I’m like a coyote; I’m meant to be off doing my own thing. When I wander into the company of people who don’t understand me, I end up hurting. She helped me give myself permission to be exactly who I am exactly where I want to be, to stand my ground in the quiet spaces I treasure so dearly. I reject infringement upon my sanctuary. I willfully share my solitude with my companion.

Our drive across the country was sacred to me. I accepted the guidance of my inner wind and got a little closer to alignment with my highest, truest self.

For me, “OK Highway” is just a song about driving across the country, escaping home and missing it at the same time. But it carries some of my story on its back.

I hope it carries some of your story too.

Special People

Thank you to Tanner Carlton for helping me write this song. Thank you to Kyle Miller for engineering and mixing this song in his studio, Lore Audio Provisions (Flagstaff, AZ). Thank you to Dave Wilton for mastering it in his studio, Coalesce Audio (Lafayette, CO). Thank you to Ben Lippard for playing the drums. Thank you to Gretta Miller for hosting me during my time in the studio. Thank you to Gina Nilce for doing the cover art photography.

And now for the usual newsletter bits…

Upcoming Shows (Online!)

Sunday, April 5th, 7:00-8:00pm
Maddi Mae on the Internet – Women of Classic Country

For this Sunday’s show, I’ll be sharing my own songs (I’ve gotta brand spankin’ new one!) and songs from a few of the women who informed my voice growing up (Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, and others).
Event Details

Photo by Jennifer Gray

Saturday, April 11th, 6:30-8:30pm
Wine Thief Livestream Concert

Sunday, April 19th, 7:00-8:00pm
Maddi Mae on the Internet – Indie Songwriters

For this Sunday’s show, I’ll be sharing my own songs and songs from a few of the indie songwriters I can’t stop listening to (Andy Shauf, Tennis, and others).
Event Details

Saturday, April 25th, 6:30-8:30pm
Wine Thief Livestream Concert

How “Here Right Now” is Doing So Far

Spotify dominates the streaming market right now, so the following stats are from that platform. Click the image below to find “Here Right Now” on your preferred streaming service and to watch the music video.

Listen to and watch “OK Highway”

As of Tuesday morning on March 31st, “Here Right Now” has been streamed 19.7k times by 4.5k people in 42 countries.

Probably the most surprising and encouraging statistic to me so far is that 82% of my listeners are women. I resonate with a woman’s perspective on this earth (albiet with a healthy dose of masculinity), and I guess my song resonated with other women. That’s an honor to me.

Top 10 Countries
1. United States
2. Canada
3. United Kingdom
4. Australia
5. Brazil
6. Mexico
7. Spain
8. Germany
9. Japan
10. France
Top 10 Cities
1. Chicago
2. Dallas
3. Atlanta
4. Washington, DC
5. Houston
6. Los Angeles
7. New York City
8. Arlington
9. Seattle
10. Brooklyn

Upheaval and Paradox

It’s been one hell of a month. How surreal to sit at my desk each morning with a cup of tea, checking my Spotify stats alongside the latest COVID-19 updates. It’s paradoxical to feel so thankful for all of the people listening to my song and then to feel so concerned for all of the people hurting because of this pandemic.

I think humans are often shamed into commiseration – into a sympathetic sorrow of parallel misery. At least, that’s how I was raised. I was guilted for being happy when others in the household were sad; I was guilted for being sad when others in the household were happy. But I think the current crisis requires a different mindset completely.

While there are plenty of reasons to feel fear and dread right now, it’s vital that we’re centering our focus upon all of the reasons to feel love and hope instead.

If you’re healthy, it’s good to feel happy and thankful for that. If you’re adapting well to the current restrictions in our communities, it’s good to feel happy and thankful for that. If you’re getting much needed rest and catching up on things you’ve always wished you had time to do, it’s okay to feel happy and thankful for that. Joy and gratitude are signs that you’re not taking your good fortune for granted.

I think the caveat to this joy and gratitude is to uplift others with it.

If you don’t have to worry about your finances during this time, that’s a good reason to be happy and thankful; just remember to use a bit of your wealth to uplift others who don’t have that comfort right now. If you’re healthy and vibrant and feeling invincible, that’s a good reason to feel happy and thankful; just remember to be healthy, vibrant, and invincible at home where you can protect others from this disease by reducing the number of carriers out in public. If you’re working from home or benefiting from paid time off, that’s a good reason to feel happy and thankful; just remember that other folks are still risking themselves to do jobs that keep our society running. Pay them fairly, encourage them, give them space to do what they need to do.

I’m preaching to myself here. I’m fortunate, and I’m trying to lean into happiness and thankfulness rather than pushing myself into anxiety and depression out of a sense of obligation to suffer alongside my brothers and sisters in this world.

Truth is, I’m thriving in a socially distant society.

I love privacy, alone time, physical space, routine, domestic tasks, and working at home. I’ve built a little fortress for myself out in this sprawling countryside and I share it with my beloved man and my beloved dog. People are communicating with me in ways that make me more comfortable without the pressure to hug or go out or chit-chat when I need quiet. Most of my students have adapted to online lessons, and I’m actually signing up new students who have extra time on their hands to learn; it’s still been a bit of a financial hit, but I’ve worked hard for a cushion in case something like this ever happened.

Now that I’ve acclimated to the new triggers of this lifestyle change, I feel such clarity in my headspace and heartspace; my CPTSD dissolves when I have the time and space to process fully and then shift to mindfulness. I grew up in an extreme environment in which my parents were constantly stressing themselves (and me) about health, money, and “doing the right thing” to protect ourselves from a contaminated world – so while some folks are shocked by this shift in our culture, I learned to move through this kind of stress a long time ago.

“Here Right Now” has also just blossomed during this month.

There are plenty of good reasons for me to feel happy and thankful. It’s okay for me celebrate a full cup, as long as I let it spill over. I’ve made some personal choices to share my good fortune that I’d rather keep to myself. But my songs are gifts I share publicly – to uplift others with the music that uplifts me.

Photo by Gina Nilce


Special thanks to my grandmas, Gammer and Nana. To my aunts, Rebecca and Michelle. To my Uncle Chris. To my cousins, Gabrielle, Greg, Hayden, Katie, Tyler, Colleen, David, and all of the little ones. To my friends, especially Val and her daughters. To my partner, Tanner. To his momma and dad, Cathy and Dave. To all of my friends on Facebook and Instagram. Thank you all for embracing “Here Right Now.” It has done so well because y’all uplifted it.

1 Comment

  1. i really enjoy your news letters. I am so very proud of you and the young lady that you have become. I love your songs and I am beginning to understand the meaning and the reflection of the words to relate to your feelings.


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