This Can't Be My Life

Album: This Can't Be My Life (2010)


  • Gerson is a Princeton-educated singer/songwriter who had her This Can't Be My Life pressed and ready to go in 2007, but she held back the release because of her divorce, which left her to care for her two young daughters and no time to support the album. This difficult time is reflected on this track. Gerson told us: "I wrote all the songs for This Can't Be My Life in a vacant therapist's office in Chelsea. I had the use of it early in the mornings from 6 am to 10-11am, depending on when the therapist had her first client. It was very quiet in there. And it was peaceful riding my bike from the East Village to Chelsea every morning so early. The beginnings of songs would come into my head as I rode over and then I'd begin. The title song, 'This Can't be My Life,' is pretty easy to see where it came from. It was very personal, even though the denial of how personal it was was right in the song. 'Fresh Air' is the same way. They were the songs I wrote that brought me through the process of getting out of an abusive relationship."
  • Gerson does vocal coaching and created something called the Singingbelt, which is "the first bio-feedback device that teaches singers diaphragmatic breath support." She has spent lots of time teaching others how to write and perform, but how does she come up with her songs? Gerson told us: "My songwriting process has changed over the years. It used to be words pouring out, and then I'd find a melody and build a song around the words. The words might come out with some melody, but it was a pouring out of words. I'd write pages and pages of lyrics and then sculpt a song from there. Now, generally, music and melody come first, some words may be involved, but, I have to uncover the words, often as if I have a giant stone and the sculpture is there inside it, but I have to carve it out. I will write letters, write poems, read Franz Rosenzweig or Emmanuel Levinas, or parts of the Bible, I will create - what I tell my students to create - word sculptures on giant pieces of paper. I draw with words till other words come. The melody and the words begin to shape each other. When I have a basic shape to a song, most of the lyrics and melody, I will then sing the lyrics of my song to about ten other songs in order to investigate where the melody could have gone, but didn't. This may inspire me to examine how else I might sing the words. This is an important part of my process these days. The reason is this - I believe we all have a few melodies that are natural to us. They get us into the meditative state where we write songs. However, the melodies on different songs may start to sound similar. This process of singing the words to other melodies can inspire you to find new melodic paths. Melodies that may not come naturally to you at first, but that's the point." (Ruth's website is


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