“Lately” was written in winter of 2016 while I was living in Escalante, Utah. A small town of about 700 people nestled within the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. You might be asking, “How does one wind up living in such a remote area?” . Well, in September of the previous year, while living in Portland, Oregon, I was invited by Raymond Shurtz of Bohemian Cowboy to play a few shows in Tropic, Utah (pop. ~400), a small town just below Bryce Canyon flooded from spring to late fall with tourists from all around the world. As a budding singer./songwriter, it was a dream opportunity so I packed up the car and drove the 18 hours to southern Utah. It was an amazing experience to play with seasoned musicians, and I did well enough that I was offered residency for the remainder of the tourist season.
It was refreshing to be there, to say the least. Not only was I fulfilling my goal of being a full time musician but being from big cities, I was enjoying the fresh air, open spaces and solitude. However, as the cold weather set in, the hustle and bustle of town and tourists came to a screeching halt for the winter season. At first it was peaceful but it didn’t take long until I got restless so I moved on to Escalante, about 40 miles east of Tropic along HWY 12, and got a part-time job at a mercantile to keep me occupied until the busy season came back around.
Although I had some work and a few friends to hangout with from time to time, the winter of 2015-2016 was the toughest season of my life. This was the first time I had been still since I left my hometown. Starting in July of 2014 I had gone from Oahu to the Big Island back to Phoenix when my dad passed away then to Southern California then to Portland, OR, to Colorado then to Utah, all inspired by musical opportunities.
The adventure of new people and places was an adrenalin rush but I finally caught up with myself during the darkness and solitude of that winter, especially at night. It was often just me and my guitar. Feeling isolated and utterly alone, I so badly wanted to go back home but I knew in my heart there was no home to go back to, too much had changed, I had changed; the only way through was forward.
This seclusion forced me to face myself without the distractions of the familiar and unfamiliar. It wasn’t pretty but it allowed me to dig deep and heal wounds I had been carrying around for most of my life and the passing of my father. Those lonely remote moments were the incubator for “Lately”.
Written by Sarah Banker
Lately I’ve been alone, no warmth in my bed, no calls on my phone
Well I’m left here in the dark
I’ve lost my light, I miss my spark
and I wonder…
Where’ve you been? Where you go? Why you’ve gone so long?
When will you get back home?
In flew those piñon blues, oh she caused a stir then slept in my room
While I’m floored on the couch, paralyzed by the fear that won’t let us out
and I wonder…
Where’ve we been? Where we go? Why we’ve gone so long?
When will we get back home?
Oh I’ve made my mistakes, the past I can’t help but replay
Over and over, where did I go wrong?
How I lost my light, my words, my song
and I wonder…
Where I’ve been? Where I’ll go? Why I’ve gone so long?
And when will I get back home?
Maybe I’ll take a walk outside, let the sun cleanse my skin
Let the air dry all these tears from my face
And if I lose it all remember I still have faith
And then I realize…
where I’ve been, where I’ll go, why the roads so long
Well, maybe I’m already home
Oh I’m home
Baby, I’m home.