Sweetest days of all

March 5th, 2008

So Georgia and I are driving around one Saturday afternoon a few years back listening to A Prairie Home Companion on the radio and the little one erupts from her car seat: “Mommy, that’s Sally Doorsky!’ It turns out that Sally, frequent radio guest, is the mom of her pre-K mate Charlie, and his little sis Lila, and in that moment Sally Dworsky has become the most famous person we will ever know. Her transcendent voice, her songs of pure heart: we can’t sum it up except that we have become fans of the most slobbery kind. Here is Sally, another soulful sister, mother of mercy and angel of inspiration talking about singing in and out of her new CD, “Boxes.”

I can remember having coffee together one day and you were as doubtful as any of us mothers that your creativity would return, that you’d ever have the time or the impetus to write songs again. Tell me how that struggle eased for you, because look, here you are!

The truth is, I think I have always had that insecurity. Even before kids. That sense that I would never write another song, or at least not another good song. Each time I do, I am so excited and relieved and surprised, and then I return to that state of not knowing. But I did wonder how I would ever have time to be alone and still enough to receive the little bursts of inspiration and follow them. And it’s true, I have much less time to explore an idea, but there is a benefit to that. I can’t afford to labor and self-judge as much as I used to or I’d never get a thing done. I realize now that it has always been about capturing those little ideas that usually come in the midst of doing something else, not in the time I’ve set aside to write. So if anything has eased with motherhood, it’s my acceptance of that fact, and my willingness to record it as it happens and not worry about the many different ways I could have played it or sang it or said it. Kinda like the way I am answering these questions while the kids watch Arthur. No time to try too hard.

I can hear you singing about your mother, your father, your kids, and your partner in these songs. Am I right? Tell me how your family inspires you.

Some people are great at making up stories and characters. Not me. I can’t even make up a bedtime story for my kids. It all comes out of my real relationships. Both of my parents have passed away now. That, coupled with having children keeps me in a perpetual state of reflection and processing of the cycle that we’re all a part of; keeps me wondering if or when I’ll ever feel grown up as I try to guide these little people. My family, and my place in it, is relentlessly inspiring.

What song on your new CD is the most personally powerful for you?

There are a few, but maybe Sweetest Days. I want to be present as it all keeps flying by.

What do you want to do with your music? With your life?

Creatively, I feel more honest than ever before, and therefore more confident. Also less competitive, which is freeing. I am connecting with other wonderful singers and musicians and exploring new collaboration. I want to be playing and writing more routinely, so that it is just woven into my life with all of the rest of my responsibilities. Then I think professional opportunities would come more easily. The practical need to be making a living makes me want to break through in some significant way: songs in films, other people recording my songs. There is not a clear path for an artist like me. It may be about some fluky little opportunity that I can’t even imagine right now (like those two sweet songwriters from the movie Once). That’s why I just want to find a “practice” so that I keep doing it and doing it honestly. I would also love to facilitate other people singing together. Especially kids. Maybe a kids’ choir?

What is your greatest delight?
Singing, singing in harmony with others, listening to my son sing, watching my daughter do sign-language and monkey bars, making soup and eating it with a good hunk of bread and a glass of wine.


Be greedy for love! Leave any comment this week and a sudden burst of inspiration from Jen Lemen, songs from Sally and even more could come your way. Enter your name or enter the name of one of your own sisters who could use some soul support. (And hey: the sister could be a mister too.) Prize winners drawn after 6 p.m. PST this Friday and announced on Saturday. Keep entering to win, and make sure you leave a way for me to reach you with the good news. That means you don’t need to have a blog, but if you don’t, be sure you contact me via email on my Profile page so I can get in touch.


  1. I clicked through to Sally’s website the other day when you mentioned her on Jen Lemen’s blog. I’m so glad you did this interview. What a sweet voice and lovely melodies! I can’t wait to dive deeper into her music.

    Comment by Jennifer/The Word Cellar — March 5, 2008 @ 6:43 am

  2. This voice, this being….is HONEY…golden, rich…thank you for introducing her.

    Comment by Wendy — March 5, 2008 @ 10:38 am

  3. Gosh, I’m so moved by that song on her Web site … like I have to listen to it every day from here on out or something. I have really been into this kind of music, but lately started making CDs to share with my girls.

    Right now, the sisters in my life who need the support are my daughters, who aren’t sleeping thanks to a cold. But, my sisters Shannon and Deanna, who are keeping it real with 2 year old boys, are who I am thinking of right now.

    Comment by Shawn — March 5, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

  4. “No time to try to hard.”

    Thanks for introducing me to Sally’s poetry.

    Larissa & Joanna – each an artist in her own special way.

    Comment by Jena Strong — March 5, 2008 @ 1:26 pm

  5. Can’t wait to hear her– I’m always looking for sweet soulful music for Ben and me. Thanks for the intro:)

    Comment by Michelle — March 5, 2008 @ 1:48 pm

  6. Like Jena, I was immediately struck by the statement, “no time to try too hard.” That will definitely be my inspiration for the day!

    Comment by Mama Zen — March 5, 2008 @ 3:20 pm

  7. oh, thank you for this music. her voice just fills me up…thank you!!!!

    Comment by Phyllis Sommer — March 5, 2008 @ 5:49 pm

  8. Thank you for sharing Sally, Karen! Besides having the kind of voice that haunts and inspires at the same time…as a writer, I’m so impressed with her lyrics. Heavenly! You truly are creating a sisterhood here of incredible woman. (Besides the ones I already know 🙂

    Comment by Shannon — March 5, 2008 @ 6:24 pm

  9. I’ve been struck by the same thing since I’ve been a mom, that I don’t have time to edit and re-edit and obsess over every little thing I write and do, or “no time to try to hard.” Just write, cook, love, create, enjoy, do my little bit each day. Thanks for the lovely post.

    Comment by Missy k — March 5, 2008 @ 6:38 pm

  10. oooh, new peeps to check out- thanks!

    Comment by The Whole Self — March 5, 2008 @ 7:50 pm

  11. Another nice interview. I had bookmarked her site the other day but didn’t remember where I had found it. And when I read your post the name rang a bell and I looked up and voila. Lovely voice.

    As an artist I have found that to be true too. On one hand, I’m not the same person so my art is not the same and THAT is the challenge. But on the other hand, having time is a challenge. But not having the time to over think, or obsess, or be so self critical is almost a relief and allows the time I do have to be more enjoyable. Freeing, I guess. 🙂

    Comment by denise — March 5, 2008 @ 8:22 pm

  12. Thank you for introducing this beautiful voice…I’m always on the look out for new tunes!

    Comment by Haley — March 5, 2008 @ 10:26 pm

  13. this is all really inspiring and real. I learned from her words about not being able to labor or self-judge her ideas anymore…and about her family, her place in it and her relationships are her inspiration. So raw.
    Can’t wait to hear more from her.

    Comment by jessamyn — March 6, 2008 @ 12:03 am

  14. Prairie Home Companion has introduced me to so many amazingly creative people. Thanks for the interview.

    Comment by marta — March 6, 2008 @ 4:49 am

  15. Beautiful voice. And I needed the “can’t afford to labor and self-judge” thought. Thank you for doing this.

    Comment by Moanna — March 6, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

  16. Such an inspiring interview! My friend Jonatha introduced me to Sally’s music… Sally is amazing!

    I’d like to send some sisterly love to Denise…

    Comment by andrea scher — March 6, 2008 @ 5:53 pm

  17. I just love reading these interviews. Thanks so much for doing them. I have also found that being a mom makes me not worry so much about how good my writing is. As a result, I’m writing more.

    Comment by Shelli — March 7, 2008 @ 2:57 am

  18. I’m enjoying being introduced to so many creative women this week. Thank you.

    Comment by kathryn — March 7, 2008 @ 5:47 am

  19. Thank you for introducing such beautiful music to my life! My sister in need of some love is my dear friend Justyn.

    Comment by anna — March 7, 2008 @ 11:00 pm

  20. i love how inspiring blogs lead to inspiring blogs and the love links continue….

    Comment by Kirsten Michelle — March 8, 2008 @ 1:09 am

  21. I love Sally’s soulful songs. She has another great album of covers called Start it All Over Again with songs by Joni Mitchell, Loudon Wainwright and Neil Young. It’s fantastic!

    ps. My kids love Sally’s songs too.

    Comment by Pamela Dreyfuss — March 11, 2008 @ 5:09 pm

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