By Lauren Schwab Eyre
There was a time when I wandered through the field and into the woods. Growing up on a farm gave me room to explore and be one with nature. Lately, I long for that time again. I find myself rushing from one event to the next, always online and connected. Constantly feeling like I’ve fallen short of my never ending to do list at the end of the day. When I am feeling overwhelmed there are two things that center me – nature and music.
Listening to a song that allows me to escape the pressures and feel like I can fly away helps me to decompress. Oddly enough I have had many dreams over the years of being able to fly. I would feel a strange sensation of being high above the earth looking down upon it. I don’t know what this ultimately means, but listening to music that understands this feeling of life being crazy and longing to fly away is what I need to feel like all will be fine.
One song that truly encompasses this is “The Crow” by Bailey James. Her bluesy yet edgy feels with Stevie Nicks vocal vibes create a sound all her own. She leans into the music, submerging herself in how the song makes her feel. This creates an experience for the listener that can be rare to find these days. Bailey spoke to me about her path into country music and developing her sound that crosses genres, as she is inspired creatively.
Bailey’s father introduced her to classic country at a young age by singing Johnny Cash. Though it was when she heard Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” that she truly fell in love with music. “I knew I wanted to do music when I heard Patsy Cline sing ‘Crazy.’ You can feel every single word she is singing,” says Bailey. Years later Bailey made the trip from Pennsylvania to Nashville with a mix tape in hand of her singing LeAnn’s “Blue”, Patsy’s “Crazy” and Opera. After knocking on the doors of record labels, she quickly learned it doesn’t work that way anymore. Despite this, she made the move to Music City and never slowed creating music.
Her creative process is as she feels inspired, sometimes she will write five to fifteen songs in a week. Other times she won’t be inspired for months yet never forces songs to be written. When the inspiration comes, Bailey goes with it. In recent months, she has written many songs. Her process begins with a melody or beat she likes and writes from whatever she is experiencing at that moment.
In writing “The Crow” with Noland Neal, Bailey had the idea for a darker, mystical rock song. While it is dedicated to her late brother who favored this type of music, she wanted to make it for anyone that feels like they are struggling. “I made it for anyone struggling to find their way to fly because that’s what ‘The Crow’ is for me. It’s more than Zane (her brother), it’s for anyone struggling right now,” shares Bailey.
Crows are often seen as a symbol of change, regeneration, and contemplation, and were an animal that Zane felt drawn to. Now, when Bailey spots crows, she senses that he is close and that he comes to her when she needs help or to focus. The lyrics express how whenever she feels as if she’s “woken up from a nightmare” she finds comfort hearing him “in the distance.” The song is brought to life in the music video as Bailey wanders a field barefoot, singing passionately about the crow leading her.
In creating the melody she pulled inspiration from Nirvana’s grunge rock sound. Being influenced by many genres, Bailey writes whatever she feels to the sound it is meant to go with. Lately, she’s been creating a lot of rock-influenced music. Her advice to other artists as they work to create their own sound in a city so filled with others doing the same is to simply stop and listen. “Listen to music, listen to what you like and figure out what you like about it. Then start incorporating it into your own music. It’s ok to experiment and not know who you are at first,” says Bailey, “Find that thing you like and run with it.”
Bailey continues to speak out on behalf of mental health through her music and by creating a mental health movement named after a song, “Finally Free”. She wants to be transparent about her own struggles with OCD, anxiety and depression. “I know a lot of people look to me for inspiration and I wanted to be real with them so I started this mental health movement,” shares Bailey. As part of the movement, she records a podcast talking with others including her dad, doctors, female empowerment authors and artists – all geared towards mental wellbeing.
To stay connected with Bailey’s music and movement, follow her on socials and visit baileyjames.com. Stream and download “The Crow” now on Spotify and music platforms.