Sitting in my bedroom around midday
Writing these here words on this here page
Thinking why on earth has this taken me so long
Buxton Pavilion Gardens bandstand
(Thanks, Dave Pape)
The first time I heard the song “Mountains” by Buxton native Lucy Spraggans, I became numb, stunned really by a simple, heartfelt phrase. I was busy in the kitchen trying to whip up a gourmet meal when the event occurred. There was a moment where my hands stopped chopping, my mind stopped turning, and I escaped into a dream that only lasted a minute, and then it passed. I let my iPod move onto the next song on her new album, Join the Club
, released by Columbia Records in March of 2013, letting the feeling “Mountains” had stirred go back to sleep. I didn’t know a single thing about this woman, but there was something in the tone of her voice and the way she sang her songs that touched something deep inside me.
There were a few more of her songs that really caught my attention, each sung with the eclectic mixture of acoustic, folk, and hip-hop Lucy refers to as “A-Flop” music. Some had me laughing out loud as this 23-year old made fun of a night of abandon and debauchery, while other songs brought me to tears as she told the beautiful story of a mother’s loss, and tea, and toast. Another told of a great love affair across the United States, and knowing this English gal had learned not to mess with Texas has me smiling from ear to ear. It was hard for me to imagine this girl, with so much wisdom, talent, and vision, was the same age as my son. It’s too bad that she’s openly gay or else I’d be trying to play match-maker, thinking that some of her heart-felt wisdom could be beneficial for him. Also, his love for her hometown of Buxton, in Derbyshire, England, “the gateway to the Peak District National Park,” Poole’s Cavern, and St. Anne’s Well, would give him plenty of excuses to visit, well …give me
plenty of excuses to visit. But, I digress. This story isn’t about trying to find my son a wife, or the possibility of me having an English adventure, but about the emotional effects of a particular song.
The story starts with the young girl with her guitar sitting at a station, contemplating the looks on people’s faces, wondering what they’re thinking. I think she puts it, wondering why they’re smiling or the troubles that they’re facing.
This leads her into wondering if the people around her have dreams and if so, what they’re doing to chase those dreams. I can see this girl clearly in my mind. I am this girl. I’ve done this on several occasions. I’d be at a park, a mall, sitting in traffic, across the office, and ask the same questions, because I wanted to know if their passions drove them the same way that mine drove me. But that’s not something one can really tell just by looking.
It makes me wonder if the Romans, who originally developed Buxton (not sure if the name later derived during the Victorian age from the Old English word for Buck Stone) long ago as a "spa of the goddess of the grove" and called it Aquae Arnemaetiae
, contemplated the same things as they relaxed in the geothermal springs and healing waters. Did they have dreams and aspirations too? I’m sure they did. It’s human nature to dream. But did they pursue them?
This is the heart of the song - the pursuit. In the story an 83-year-old lady sits down next to the young girl and proceeds to tell her of her adventures, and my imagination took flight. Since the age of 24 (I find it odd that Lucy will soon be 24 and it seems her adventures have just begun) this woman has lived in Mexico, Columbia, and Ecuador. She sat next to the Taj Mahal while the sun was rising and spent a year in Australia chasing the horizon. She tells the girl to take her guitar and do what she has to do… and then this is the part that touched the very depths of my soul. She said, “I know what you’re scared of. I used to feel it too. You’re not scared of climbing mountains. You’re scared that you can’t make them move. I would move them for you.”
Wow, wow, wow, wow. I cried. I’m crying now as I’m writing this story. No artist, none that I know, is afraid of the sacrifice or hard road that it will take to make their dreams come true - we’re not scared to climb up and down mountains. But we are terrified, almost petrified, that we won’t be able to move beyond them. Moving mountains takes faith. It’s something beyond our control. We can’t make our success happen. We can only make ourselves prepared and available, trained, and experienced. But to stand at the end of our journey isn’t to stand on a mountain top. It’s to reach beyond the ups and down and stand on level ground with no more mountains to climb and no more valleys to navigate. Chasing a dream isn’t a one-time event - it’s a life-long series of events, a journey.
(Thanks, Onofre Bouvila)
Lucy Spraggan has already experienced some mountains and valleys in her life. She didn’t start out a successful artist, nor will music be the only adventure she takes in her life. She’s really just begun. As young as she is, she’s already changed her career a couple of times, beginning with being a firefighter while she attended the University in Derby. Before that she was a plumbers assistant, a cave tour guide at Poole’s Cavern (an extensive limestone cavern open to the public), a magician, and worked in demolition. As an open lesbian, she had her first real love adventure at the age of 18 with an older woman of 27 who was the inspiration for songs such as “In a State.”
As indicated in the song as it progresses, Lucy wonders why it takes so long to see something move and is frustrated with its progress and opposition by those who don’t understand her ambition. This is typical of all artists, whether musician, writer, painter, dancer, etc. But, Lucy perseveres and tells herself in this song that no one has the right to tell her what she thinks is wrong. She first showed up on the music scene in 2011 where she was announced as the runner-up of the Urban, Pop & Acoustic category of Live and Unsigned at the tender age of 20. Within a year later she performed alongside Razorlight at Osfest at the Oswestry Showground in Shropshire. In the meantime, in her eagerness to get out there and chase that dream, she released an independent album, Top Room at the Zoo
, in November of 2011 and accompanied it with an associated music video on YouTube. In 2012, she auditioned for The X-Factor
, but pulled out in November of that year due to illness. Lucy signed her major label debut Join the Club
on October 7, 2013. She has made Buxton proud.“Because, I know what I’m scared of. I feel you can see it too. I’m not scared of climbing mountains. I’m scared that I can’t make them move. The most important piece of information that you ever heard is that soon you will be sitting on top of the world. I would move them for you.”
Good luck, Lucy Spraggan. I don’t think she will need to fear those mountains. She’s already climbed some great ones. Buxton, a municipal borough since 1974, may have the highest elevation of any market town in England, but this artist is well on her way to the stars. I’m a fan for sure.
~ T.L. Gray
T.L. Gray is a best-selling published author, literary agent, editor, blogger, and contributing writer to various print and online magazines. When this active outdoor enthusiast isn’t hiking down some wild, adventurous, backwoods trail, or cooking gourmet food, she is listening to an eclectic assortment of music or playing her acoustic guitar. For more information visit her Facebook Page at AuthorTLGray