Dana Fuchs — The optimistic realist

Dana Fuchs (Photo by Merry Cyr)

Sometimes life gets in the way of art. Dana Fuchs knows this better than most, but ultimately, everything that took her away from the recording world for a spell was also what brought her back with her new release of Love Lives On.

“It was an album that I wasn’t sure I was gonna make,” she admits. “Then I went to Memphis and it became a very special album. I had taken some time off. I’ve lost a lot of family. In the last few years I’ve lost two more siblings and both of my parents, so I had to write about it. And then I had the unexpected birth of a son just after my mom was dying so it became a very personal album.”

Add to this the reality that her contract with longtime label Ruf Records was up, and Fuchs decided to add more to her already overflowing plate by starting her own label, Get Along Records. Throw in a successful PledgeMusic campaign, and we’ve got ourselves an album, not just one of Fuchs’ most personal, but one of her best. Yet if you think it’s time to exhale, not yet, as now it’s time to tour behind Love Lives On.

“If you want something done, do it yourself,” she laughs, excited and nervous about this new journey, cool about being the boss, while embracing the team she’s put together to take her through these coming months. Now it’s all about getting on stage and giving the shows that have made her a must see.

It will still feel different, though, given the losses she’s suffered and life changes she’s gone through. And she’s going to re-live those moments every time she steps to the microphone, which isn’t easy.

“I’ve always said, up until this album, ‘It’s my catharsis, it’s how I heal,’” Fuchs said of delving into her personal life in song. “And writing these songs and recording them on many levels was cathartic, but I did really grieve a lot. Especially coming back and rehearsing the songs to play them live and having them ring in my head over and over, night after night, was really reliving a lot of painful stuff. It was part of the grieving process, but this time it was a little bit harder because I went a little deeper and it was a little more personal. It was a fresh loss — my third sibling and both my parents. It’s been hard.”

The title track on Love Lives On is about Fuchs’ mother, and not surprisingly, making the video for the song brought her to places she didn’t want to have to visit.

“‘Love Lives On,’ the title track about my mom, we made a video for it and that day was really tough,” she said. “Leading up to it, when I had to learn the words exactly as they are because you’re lip syncing in a video, really was painful. Preparing for the video, I was reading through my mom’s old diary and letters and it reopened all of that up for me. She died two years ago, and on this last tour, of all the shows over a month long, I only performed the song twice. The first time, I actually had to stop. So it’s still very raw and it’s harder than I thought it would be.”

But it is part of the healing process, not just for Fuchs, but for her audience, and that’s something she is well aware of, and has been ever since she started her career.

“It is the saving asset, and the real part of it for me is that it all started with my first album and a song about my sister’s suicide when I realized telling that story invited so many people to share their experience,” she said. “After the show, I’d go out and sign CDs and someone would say I lost a sister or a brother to suicide, or a parent or a child. And that was when I knew it wasn’t just about my story. It’s about really connecting. Every show I do, my audience is not teenagers, so most people in that crowd are either losing someone they love or they’ve lost someone they love. So it’s really a time for us to heal together. It’s like this great group therapy, in a sense, under the umbrella of music. That’s why we call it my Rock and Roll Church of Love and Life.”

This Sunday’s service is in Brooklyn, New York, and while it won’t be easy to sing about everything and everyone she’s lost over the years, she’s got plenty of backup waiting for her.

“It makes it so much easier for me to get on stage when I know that it’s not just about me performing for you,” Fuchs said. “This is about us connecting, bringing all our s**t here tonight, and letting it all hang out. And I love that aspect of it.”

And yeah, Fuchs says she’s an optimist. But “in a realistic way.”

“I know the worst is never over,” she said. “It can only get worse, and at some point it will. But I’m gonna enjoy the hell out of it until it does and then I’m hopefully gonna have an ability to accept it when it’s happening and then start all over again.”

Dana Fuchs plays Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, New York on Sunday, May 20. For tickets, click here

For more information on Dana Fuchs, click here

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