Lydia Smith is a singer-songwriter who hones her craft in Nashville, Tennessee, a town rife with music culture and history. She has performed at numerous world famous venues, including Douglas Corner Cafe, The Commodore Grille, and the legendary Bluebird Café. She is among several Nashville-based songwriters selected by Emmy-nominated director Stacey K. Black, to follow in the documentary “Send My Mail to Nashville.”
Lydia’s hobbies include photography, bird watching, reading, and refinishing thrift store furniture. Despite being gregarious, she claims to be a true introvert, and prefers spending time enjoying nature with her best friend and canine companion, Oreo. She plans to record and release an album of original material later this year.
IA: How long have you worked in the music industry?
LS: Music has been my passion since childhood, but it took me until just a few years ago to embrace the fact that I was a songwriter and decide to follow the path I knew was right for me.
IA: Describe your life in one word.
IA: What is on your bookshelf?
LS: So. Many. Books. Michael Ondaatje is my favorite author and I have more by him than any other single author. I have four bookshelves filled to capacity, and numerous boxes of books; despite giving them away by the dozens every time I move house.
IA: Do you consider yourself to be a spiritual person?
LS: Deeply, and more so every day.
IA: What kind of jobs have you had?
LS: Ha! I have held innumerable jobs over the years. Some were really fun, but not profitable, some relatively profitable and hugely UN-Fun, and LOTS of unsatisfying jobs that I was ill suited for. Some of the ones that come to mind include a blessedly brief stint as a telephone sales person for the Nashville Symphony, manager of a very posh Aveda concept salon for many years, and hostess/server/bartender at a Mexican restaurant.
IA: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
LS: I can see myself living happily in many different places, but Italy has resonated with me since first I saw it on a map as a child. I love everything I know about Italy; the culture, the art, the language, food, wine, countryside, the rich history. It feels both familiar and yet somehow exciting. I am looking forward to visiting several different areas to see which would be the best fit for me.
IA: What music are you listening to now?
LS: Jason Isbell’s new record “Southeastern”. In fact, I have listened to it endlessly since it’s release last year. It’s deep and it’s dark, and painfully honest. In my opinion, Jason Isbell is a modern day poet and storyteller in the same vein as Kris Kristofferson, Lucinda Williams and Townes Van Zandt. I feel confident that he will stand the test of time, and prove to be one of the finest songwriters of our generation.
IA: Describe your typical day.
LS: The first thing I do is a morning meditation, followed by a gigantic mug of coffee, and a long, unhurried stroll with my buddy Oreo. Where I live, the wildlife out numbers the human population, and we take our time admiring the flora and fauna. Many times I will get a cool idea for a song, or a line will come to me that is the perfect fit for a line that needed to be rewritten. Then it’s back home to do some songwriting, either working on a new song idea or tweaking one in progress, and a little guitar practice. Eventually, I get around to returning phone calls, email and dabbling on the social media sites. Afternoons are the time I run errands and take care of any household chores, and I finish out my day with an evening meditation.
IA: If you had to be any of these things, which would you like to be? a.) a member of the opposite sex, b.) a clock, c.) a pair of shoes, d.) a duck.
LS: A duck. I think it would be cool to experience what it’s like to inhabit a completely different type of body; in this case one covered with feathers and webbed feet to waddle around with. Being a duck seems like it would be fun. I mean, they get to live outside, swim all day, they have the ability to fly, and they get to quack really loudly when they have something to say.
IA: What are the last three items you bought?
LS: Painting supplies, brushes, rollers, drop cloths, etc. I do interior painting jobs to support my songwriting habit.
IA: Who are your heroes?
LS: Gandhi, Jane Goodall, Kris Kristofferson and Martin Luther King.
IA: How do you get in the “zone” to create your music?
LS: Ahhh, great question! I am lucky in that I am able to easily come up with ideas for songs, powerful lines, and song titles, but the best things seem to come to me in the shower, or driving, or even when I am painting and not trying so hard. The Muse loves to catch us off guard. The ideas come easily, but in order to craft that into a song, I need total focus, with no distractions. I seem to create easily when I am well-rested, not hungry or tired and feeling relaxed, and in a very quiet setting with no interruption. In addition to that, I am a creature of habit, so I like to be seated at my desk, with the sunlight streaming in, a fresh sheet of paper and my favorite pen in hand. It’s almost a form of self-hypnosis, and allows the words to flow easily.
IA: What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
LS: I truly believe that life itself, every bit of it, really is a gift. We get caught up in our own little melodramas and forget to pay attention to the trees swaying in the wind, the way the sunlight reflects off the water, the multitude of precious moments that occur every single day. Right now, I am most thankful for the sweet souls that come into my life seemingly exactly when I need them. We have so many lessons to teach and to learn from one another, and although I realize that may not be what you were asking, I can’t think of a single possession that is better than that.
IA: Who or what has been your greatest inspiration in life?
LS: Inspiration comes from many sources, but I am inspired to be a better songwriter every time I hear a great songwriter sing a song they have written. Music inspires music. I have several friends that inspire me to be a better version of myself every day. Among them are Stacey K. Black who is a phenomenal LA based filmmaker and songwriter in her own right, and who has just finished a documentary about Nashville songwriters titled, “Send My Mail to Nashville.” She is truly a force of nature! My dear friend Donnie Winters inspires me to be a better guitar player, as well as a better human being. He is an incredible picker, songwriter, and singer, and when he yodels his cowboy song, it brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. I wish I could give them both a humanitarian award for all they have done to inspire and uplift others, especially in the songwriting community.
IA: Is there anything that you haven’t done yet that you feel compelled to do in the future?
LS: Oh yes, I still have lots of things on my to do list. One of my goals for this year is to go into a studio and record some of my music. There are still lots of places I want to perform at as well, like Music City Roots at the “Loveless Café,” “The Broken Spoke” in Austin Texas, and of course, the mother church, Nashville’s very own Ryman Auditorium.
IA: If you only had 24 hours to live, how would you spend your day?
LS: I would spend it surrounded by all my loved ones, outdoors, in the sunlight, savoring every moment, every smile, every hug, every delectable bite of food, every sound, and every emotion, exactly like I try to do every day.
IA: What brings you the greatest satisfaction?
LS: Definitely songwriting; stringing together words and setting it to a melody to create something where once there was only a germ of an idea is deeply satisfying to me.
IA: What are your hobbies?
LS: Most of my hobbies are music related: listening to music, writing, singing, and playing guitar. Photography is also a passion; I enjoy taking photos of nature, particularly the ever-changing sky. Oh, and I adore snuggling up with a good book; in fact, I consider my favorite books to be among some of my dearest friends.
IA: What is creativity?
LS: To me, it’s a way to bring what we imagine to life, a fun way to experiment, a way of seeing something in a different way than anyone else. I also believe everyone has the potential to be creative, it is our natural state of being.
IA: What is your greatest indulgence?
LS: Luxurious, handcrafted bath products.
IA: What is on your nightstand?
LS: A lovely lamp that was a gift from my very thoughtful daughter, a scented candle, and a book titled “The Vortex” by Abraham-Hicks.
(Photo by Karan Simpson, Mimosa Arts)