The Kama Dutra (Phil's Favorite Positions)

My Life, My Anxiety And My Music! 

If there are 2 things that have been a constant in my life, they are my love of music and my struggle to overcome anxiety. I was born into a very loving Portuguese immigrant home, the youngest of four children. And, my parents were very excited to have a son after 3 daughters. It’s not that they didn’t want girls, but my father was thrilled to have someone to carry on the family name. 

I excelled in elementary school, reading at a 4th grade level in the 1st grade and I was a friendly and popular kid. But, I was always “on edge”. I don’t know how else to explain it. It felt as if I was going to be “found out”. About what, I didn’t know. There was no trauma. No abuse. Only happy memories with a huge extended family. Yet I felt stalked by an undefinable fear of something. Maybe fear isn’t the right word. Perhaps unease is better. Yeah, unease. But, for what? 

This general sense of unease continued in Jr. High, High School and College. And also as an adult, when I started singing in various groups and bands. It was only when I realized and accepted that I was gay that it dawned on me what I was afraid of. What I was going to be “found out” about. But even after coming out to my family and friends and luckily being accepted and loved, there was still a sense of dread. Even after the weight of being closeted was lifted, I still felt this way. I thought it was just a normal part of living to feel like this. It finally came to a head in my mid-thirties when I decided that this was not normal, and got help via counseling. Only then did I realize that I had Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I lived with it for over thirty years not realizing that there was something I could do about it. Now, I am much more aware of what triggers the anxiety, I am taking medication to treat it and I feel so much better than I ever have! It is still there but much more controlled and much less severe 

Music was and is also a huge part of my life! My Mother had a beautiful voice! She was always singing as she worked around the house. My Dad played guitar and violin and sang as well. I loved listening to him play and sing Portuguese songs. We would listen to Fado (Portuguese folk) records, which oozed melancholy and had beautiful, sad melodies. I didn’t understand the lyrics but I knew each singer was heartbroken or, in some way, in despair. I was also constantly listening to AM pop music on 77 WABC radio in New York City. It was an eclectic playlist of pop, rock, soul and even some country. I soaked in those sounds and words and they became a part of my being.

When I began singing and then writing my own songs, all these influences seeped into my creativity. So did my anxiety and the struggle to overcome it. I couldn’t help but write about it because it was, and still is, my truth. And, if I truly want to be an artist, that truth must be expressed. 

There are 3 songs, in particular, that are perfect examples of these life influences becoming part of the song.

Let’s start with the oldest song “Losing Yesterday”. It’s probably the most direct lyric of dealing with undefined anxieties and thinking that ignoring or denying them is the best (and by best, I mean worst) way to deal with them. The singer is desperate to let go of all these triggers that shake him to his core. The problem is they MUST be dealt with to overcome them. I also contrasted the troubled lyrics with a bright cheery sounding melody. Some of my favorite songs do this.

 

“The smell of roses makes me wild 

The sound of bees alone can make me cry just like a child

I can’t explain it. But, all my fears are more than mild 

Goodbye yesterday. I’ve got to throw my past away

The ghosts lead me astray. So, I’m losing yesterday”

The next song is “She Walks Away”. A song about being trapped in a desperate situation without seeing any way out. In this case it is a poor guy who has been dumped by his girlfriend. All he has left is a video of their time together. In the video, she gets up and walks away. He is forever replaying this “movie” and trying to imagine her returning but it never happens. This one makes me quite happy because it won a National songwriting contest.

“I am alone. Sitting on the couch. I keep on playing this worn out video

And she’s the star! With eyes that melt your soul. 

They keep on saying “I know who you are” 

Her face is sunshine for the day 

But in the final scene, the blue sky fades to gray 

She walks away and breaks my heart 

Every time I press rewind and play this movie from the start

I’m pretending there’s an ending where she decides to stay

But, she walks away!”

The final song is about being inspired by young people to overcome crippling doubts in your life and renewing your commitment to climbing that metaphorical “Mountain” we all face. It’s called “Fine Young People (Living Life)”. This is the song that got me out of a difficult time and got me back in the studio to complete and release my first CD “See The World”!

Now I look at the fine young people. They blow my mind!

Here I go. My mountain will be climbed 

I’m on my way. I’m doing fine.

I’m living life again. I’m living life!

No more delay. No killing time.

I’m living life again. I’m living life!”

You can listen to all three songs by clicking here!

I hope you enjoyed this deeper dive behind the lyrics and music and what inspired them! I hope it inspires you, in some small way to overcome anxiety and doubts and to live your best life!

Sleep Effect on Anxiety and Depression 

I woke up feeling great today! I had a really good night sleep and I even woke up before my alarm went off! This is a very rare occasion! 

That is because I have General Anxiety Disorder and I usually wake up several times each night. I know what it's like to feel down, with little energy because of a bad night of sleep. The "catch-22 is my anxiety causes me to not sleep well and not sleeping well aggravates my anxiety! 

I came across this Harvard Medical School article about this very subject and I found it quite interesting. 

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The story behind the song “For The Last Time” 

 

This song is my best attempt at writing a Burt Bacharach/Hal David song. “Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head” has always been one of my favorite songs and that is what inspired “For The last Time”. It is about addictions. Specifically, being addicted to another person. Sure, the song mentions drinking but the true addiction comes in the opening lyrics of the bridge. “Standing alone by the window, waiting for you to get me high” shows how much the singer is hooked on the object of their affection. They become an affliction that needs to be abandoned in order to truly recover. I love the optimism of both the lyrics and the bouncy rhythm of the recording. It is a song of triumph over struggle. It can be about overcoming any addiction or adversity. 

When I originally wrote the song, it had a mellow “Raindrops” groove to it. Then, in the studio, my producer Scott Patton (Sugarland) had me punched up the rhythm guitar strumming and gave the song a much needed bounce. One of my favorite parts of the recording is Scott’s guitar solo, which comes across as both cheerful and melancholy. It’s my go to song to start a show because of the upbeat feel and singable melody.

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Another “Artist” stole my music! And, what I did to get it back! 

If you don’t know who I am, you’re not alone.  My name is Phil Dutra. I am an Austin, TX based Singer/Songwriter with 2 CDs and a digital single on all the music streaming services including Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music. I used a great DIY distributor named CD Baby to get them online. To be perfectly honest, my stats, both streaming and downloads, have been lame at best. Granted, 3 of my songs have been “watched” on youtube, where they have received over 20,000 views each. That’s due to them being played in Supermarkets and drugstores all over the country and people searching online to find them. But, that’s the most exposure my songs have received. People hearing my tunes, interrupted by “clean up on aisle 12”. Let’s just say my marketing degree from NYU has not been utilized to its full potential. In other words, I suck at self-promotion.

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The Day Donald Trump Fired Me! 

O.K. That may be a slight stretch but hear me out. 

Back in my days as an undergraduate at NYU, I started an A-Capella group with my buddies Brian, Greg, Chris and Wayne. We sang mostly in Washington Square Park under the arch. The acoustics there are amazing. We would sing doo-wop and modern songs, pass around the bucket on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and make a few hundred bucks. Not a bad take for five poor students. 

This was the late eighties in Manhattan. It was the decade of greed in the financial capital of the world. We were doing our best to get our piece of the pie with the vocal talents we possessed. 

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The Story Behind The Song: “Feel This Way” 

This song started with the chord walk down of the bridge. I was fiddling around with my guitar and came up with a melody for that part of the song as well as the line about time not being on my side. That’s a pretty pessimistic view for the young guy I was when I wrote this. But, I know it fit how I was feeling at the time. 

I have always lived with a very high level of anxiety. The endless “what ifs” and over-thinking of every perceived threat was taking its emotional toll and I was trying anything to relieve the anxiety, including meditation. It was also a time when I was letting go of organized religion and the judgement that I felt growing up gay. This song is about the frustration of the very slow progress I was making. 

Even after all these years, I still deal with anxiety but I recognize the “triggers” better and I have better tools to deal with it and minimize its impact. It will always be with me but I no longer feel the despair that inspired this song.

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Happy New Year!! Plans? 

 

Are you generative or reactive to opportunities? I have, for the most part been reactive. I believe that I have been fairly successful in how I have reacted to those opportunities by saying yes or no. I trust my gut in those situations but I am acknowledging that I need to be much more proactive in creating opportunities, rather than just waiting for them to present themselves. My commitment to my success is to set achievable goals and develop plans to achieve those goals. By creating those intentions, I can hold myself accountable and celebrate my achievements. On the flip side, I can acknowledge my shortcomings and recalibrate to ultimately succeed!

 

Are you feeling generous? You can donate to help me continue creating music for you!! Click the Donate button below! Thanks!!