Emily Hurd

Emily Hurd

 Chicago, Illinois, USA
BandAlternativeSinger/Songwriter

Emily Hurd is a Chicago-based songwriter and pianist with vocal chops that both Rick Kogan of WGN and Richard Milne of WXRT have likened to musical icon Janis Joplin. The wordsmith is well-respected for her cutting, intelligent lyrics and inimitable live showmanship.

Biography

Chicago-based songwriter Emily Hurd does not craft tunes for the faint of heart. The wordsmith's live performance showcases her breathtaking vocals, fearless lyrics, and unique piano and ukulele musicianship. Attend one of her shows, and prepare to be swept up in her pianistic punch, vintage grooves, stunning arrangements, and memorable melodies. She is currently in the studio working on her 8th album, "Long Lost Ghosts."

Originally from Rockford, Illinois, Hurd has been touring her native midwest and both coasts of the U.S. for years. Often compared to Regina Spektor and Feist, Hurd has developed a no-excuses performance savvy; what you hear is what she is. Well-traveled and well-versed, she is the quintessential indie national act, performing for growing pockets of loyal followers who revel in her clever rhymes and honest showmanship.

Backed by a band, Hurd blasts through her tunes with Joplinesque soul. She has shared the stage with Bettye Lavette, Ozomatli, and Irma Thomas, to name a few. On her own, she candidly roots her audience into her storytelling and storyselling, and has opened as a solo act for the likes of Roger McGuinn and Geoff Muldaur. Hurd plays live with piano, ukulele, and also harmonica.

As a child, Emily spent most of her upbringing immersed in music. She still counts Hoagie Carmichael, Kris Kristofferson, and Scott Joplin as her biggest musical influences. Through high school, culinary school, and later while getting her BA in Music Business from Columbia College in Chicago, Hurd developed a fondness for Solomon Burke, Mahalia Jackson, The Beatles, Tom Waits, Greg Brown, Mavis Staples, and Lyle Lovett.

"Like most things, songwriting is more a function of being open than it is about skill," Hurd says. Assuming this to be true, her open nature has won her the praise of critics and judges internationally. Her song "The Likes Of You" was a winner in the 2009 International Songwriting Competition and the 2008 Unisong International Songwriting Contest, and "Make a Bed" was a finalist in the 2008 John Lennon Songwriting Contest.

Over the holidays, she released her 7th record of original music, "Tins & Pins & Peppermints." Her past discography includes: "Daytime Fireflies," 2010, "A Cache In The Warehouse Floor," 2008, "Love In Flats," 2007, "Barefoot Session," 2006, "Potent One," 2006, and "Lines," 2005.

Lyrics

Just In Case

Written By: Emily Hurd

I left a light on over the porch, so that it might lead you up to my door. And as for your suitcase, well I made some space. Just in case. Just in case.

I left the door open. And I lifted the latch. And I cracked the window. And I let out the sash. And I combed through my hair, and I dressed up in lace. Just in case. Just in case.

You've been gone a long time, and I've got a long line of reasons that you may not return. But I'm just guessin that those are lessons that I haven't learned. Because

I tidied the kitchen, and I put up the wreath. And I took our old record from its old sleeve. And I fashioned a flower into a vase. Just in case. Just in case.

I moved your picture to the front of the shelf. And I perfumed my pillow for you to smell. And I left a little lipstick on my face. Just in case. Just in case.

You've been gone a long time, and I've got a long line of reasons that you may not return. But I'm just guessin that those are lessons that I haven't learned. Because

I left an ember behind the hearth so that you'd remember just where you are. And now I'm rolling over to leave you a place. Just in case. Just in case.

Cherry Blossom

Written By: Emily Hurd

Bring me back a blossom, Baby, from your cherry tree.
You will get back lots of love from me.
Give me something gentle, Baby, whisper in the dark.
I’m a sentimental girl at heart.
Maybe just a few words, Baby, just a tender few?
Oh, what lovely things I’ll do for you.
I could move you smoothly, Baby, and kiss you on your face.
What’s a girl to do for your embrace?

Could you try it once with feeling?
Be a little softer, Baby.
See the sea of stars this evening?
What a night to love your lady.

I’ve loved you for years, my Baby, don’t you understand?
You’re no souvenir; you are my man.
But sometimes, I need sweetness, Baby, to feel like lovers do.
And if you make me feel this, you will too.
Take me in your arms, my Baby, take me if you dare.
You’ll see how my charms can ease your cares.
Touch can change the world, my Baby, care to alter mine?
C’mon, let your girl just blow your mind.

Could you try it once with feeling?
Be a little softer, Baby.
See the sea of stars this evening?
What a night to love your lady.

Bring me back a blossom, Baby, from your cherry tree.
You will get back lots of love from me.

Taxes

Written By: Emily Hurd

Taxes are taxing me. The man just got the best of me
I have got a recipe, but I have got no dough to buy my bread
So I’m callin you instead
Like it or not, all that I got is what I’m givin to you
My covers do not cover me. The postman’s got no love for me
I have got some garden seed, but I have got no green to make it grow
And I can’t stand to be alone
Like it or not, all that I got is what I’m givin to you

Forgive me if I’m comin on too strong. Forgive me if I’m lovin you too long
It’s not that I would ever do you wrong, it’s just that baby you’re how I get by
You’re the only thing that can make me forget that lately I’m just so deep in debt
That even when the rain is soakin me wet, Lord, my pockets they are dry

My clothes are closing down on me. My shoes are being mean to me
I could stand new scenery, but I have got no change to make a change
Still I’m lovin you the same
Like it or not, all that I got is what I’m givin to you
My ride just rode away from me. The tide has turned and toppled me
I would play the lottery if there were any tickets to afford
Could I see you some more?
Like it or not, all that I got is what I’m givin to you

Forgive me if I’m comin on too strong. Forgive me if I’m lovin you too long
It’s not that I would ever do you wrong, it’s just that baby you’re how I get by
You’re the only thing that can make me forget that lately I’m just so deep in debt
That even when the rain is soakin me wet, Lord, my pockets they are dry

Taxes are taxing me. The man just got the best of me
I have got a recipe, but I have got no dough to buy my bread
So I’m callin you instead
Like it or not, all that I got is what I’m givin to you
Like it or not, all that I got is what I’m givin to you
Like it or not, all that I got is what I’m givin

Over Time

Written By: Emily Hurd

You won’t smell that flower twice, yellow Susan’s blackest eyes.
You won’t know which hills we climbed over time.
You won’t catch that bit of day bless those beaches by that bay.
You won’t recall feelin fine over time.
Over time seems far away, but over time will come one day.
And you won’t see that drop of rain dance those windows on that train,
Or all the details of that ride—over time.
You won’t see that sliver moon, or hear late night church bells from my room.
You won’t know just how they chimed over time.
Over time seems far away, but over time will come one day.
And you won’t move that way again, your first-time fingers on my skin.
You’ll forget how hard we tried over time.

Down The Street

Written By: Emily Hurd

Bags in tow under my eyes. I saw the highest lows and the lowest highs.
I went past shallow hills and a valley deep just to find you livin down the street.
Stopping lights and docking yards. Under the satellites and the dying stars.
I went over the fields and a rocky beach just to find you livin down the street.
Just to find you livin down the street.

Now when I holler, he comes runnin. Oh my baby keeps me comin.
He gives me what I don’t know that I need.
Every time I’d chase the wind I’d only find your face again.
So I’ll lose my shoes and rest my tired feet. And find that you been livin down the street.

Gravel voice and pavement roads. I heard some empty noise from the noisy shows.
I followed love on hollow leads just to find you livin down the street. I took some bitter drinks from fruitless vines. Oh, the jagged brinks and stony climbs.
The beatin drum had got me beat and I found you livin down the street.
I just found you livin down the street.

Now when I holler, he comes runnin. Oh my baby keeps me comin.
He gives me what I don’t know that I need.
Every time I’d chase the wind I’d only find your face again.
So I’ll lose my shoes and rest my tired feet. And find that you been livin down the street.

Through alley ways and Raleigh haze, I was searchin for some brighter days
And someone I could be someone to.
Through dead canals and live corrals and old-time men and good time gals,
I wondered til my wonderin was through. And I happened to happen onto you.

Bags in hand and ragged skies. Golden bands and broken ties.
I took careless rides at breakneck speeds just to find you livin down the street.
Faulty starts make happy endings. Hardened hearts take hearty mending.
Now to the wind I must concede. I found you livin down the street.
I just found you livin down the street.

Now when I holler, he comes runnin. Oh my baby keeps me comin.
He gives me what I don’t know that I need.
Every time I’d chase the wind I’d only find your face again.
So I’ll lose my shoes and rest my tired feet. And find that you been livin down the street.

Now when I holler, he comes runnin. Oh my baby keeps me comin.
He gives me what I don’t know that I need.
Every time I’d chase the wind I’d only find your face again.
So I’ll lose my shoes and rest my tired feet. And find that you been livin down the street.

Give It Time

Written By: Emily Hurd

I got your note, though it’s two years late. Sweet as it seems, dreams will have to wait.
These words I hold that you scrolled out in blue would have meant much more for me were they new.
You are used to how I used to just fall for your lines, but now it’s been so long, and I gotta give it time

CHORUS
Gonna give it time. If this is gonna begin.
Gonna give it time. To wonder where you have been.
Gonna give it time. Before I let you back in,
I got to miss what I’m missin til I love you again.

I got so worn, warmin my own heart. And when you’re tired, fires are harder to start.
My tires been spinnin gettin out of this rut. And my feet are just very barely free of this mud.
You’re accustomed to custom that things will be fine, but it’s been so long and I gotta give it time.

CHORUS

BRIDGE
I wanna build me a memory of things I can’t remember.
Wanna build you up every day that we’re together.
Wanna kiss you cuz I like it, not because it’s easy.
So if you wanna try it, if you wanna please me, please, give it time.

I got your smile, child. I see it plain. And though it feels real, it ain’t the same.
I know you know how to say what I need, but once you been cut, it’s just too easy to bleed.
You’re reactin' to the actions that I’ve since left behind. It’s been so long, and I gotta give it time.

CHORUS

Strings

Written By: Emily Hurd

Daddy's blue bandana wore me to Montana and back.
It was a tiny little token that he picked up while roamin the tracks.
All that I carry around I should be burying now, but I'm bound
By the strings on the things I keep movin, I'm movin around.

I got some shirts my mama told me were hers when she was only a kid,
Livin on the river like her brother and her sisters did.
And I should let them go because the best of clothes do not last.
But they got the strings to the things that are tying my heart to her
past.

I got a seashell from an island that I picked up while lying on sand.
It cut into my fingers trying to hide it from the beach diggers' hands.
And I could surely discard it were it not for the scar that it left.
Now there is a string on that thing that my body will not let me forget.

I got some pictures in a shoebox too old but too new not to pitch
From a restaurant in Baltimore and views upon the Sagamore Bridge.
They are just items, I'm sure, but they conjure up more than their weight.
They got the strings to the things and the people I ain't seeing these days.

All my lover gives me is gonna come to Mississippi one day.
These sentimental feelings are gonna put me in my grave.
Because the trinkets I own are sinking me and the boat that I row.
And all the little strings on the things that I own cannot keep me afloat.

Daddy's blue bandana wore me to Montana and back.
It was a tiny little token that he picked up while roamin the tracks.
All that I carry around I should be burying now, but I'm bound
By the strings on the things I keep movin, I'm movin around.

The Likes Of You

Written By: Emily Hurd

I’ve seen flowers in my hands for hours. Stood in very pretty towers all day.
I’ve seen backseats of limousines and taxis and pockets big enough to tuck me away.
I’ve been courted by the king of diamonds who liked to see his ladies shinin'
And for me, he would have gone on buyin' a hundred avenues.
But he ain’t nothin like. I ain’t seen nothin like the likes of you. The likes of you.

That’s why I keep holdin out for you.
That’s why I keep holdin out for you. That’s what I do.

I’ve heard shiny sonnets in a silver lining, sweet enough for him to stymie my stars.
I’ve heard fables of babies in the finest cradles: poetry to try to stable my heart.
I’ve been wooed by the lord of happy endings who invited me to my own wedding
Where he guaranteed the sun would then be setting in a hundred different hues.
But he ain’t nothin like. I ain’t seen nothin like the likes of you. The likes of you.

That’s why I keep holdin out for you.
That’s why I keep holdin out for you. That’s what I do.

And it’s easy. So very easy. So very easy.
As long as there’s time, I’m just gonna pine and pine while I keep on Oooooo

That’s why I keep holdin out for you.
That’s why I keep holdin out for you. That’s what I do.
And it’s easy. So very easy. So very easy. So very easy.

Make A Bed

Written By: Emily Hurd

Pretty roads and doorways make me question what I’ve done,
Fill my mind with worries about the things I made “the one.”
But I could waste my living days by thinking bout my life,
So I’m gonna choose to make a bed, and believe I made it right.
I’m gonna choose to make a bed and be happy there tonight.

I could commit to leaving when a good love comes my way,
Love everybody evenly to keep my old heart safe.
But I could hole away in my soul each day til the end of time.
So I’m gonna choose to make a bed, and believe I made it right.
I’m gonna choose to make a bed, and be glad he’s by my side.

I could drive through borders just to try to see it all.
But I could find the farthest corners just to wind up at a wall.
And I could chase them sunny rays and never see the light.
So I’m gonna choose to make a bed, and believe I made it right.
I’m gonna choose to make a bed, and give thanks for this ride.

I could always wonder; I could always second guess
If the stars I’m under are the ones that suit me best.
Well if my needs and my deeds never coincide,
I’m gonna choose to make a bed, and believe I made it right.

I’m gonna choose to make a bed, so I got somewhere to lie.

I See You Clearly

Written By: Emily Hurd

I see you clearly, whether you hide.
I love you dearly, whether you lied.
And when you're weary, and you can't confide,
I see you clearly. I see you shine.
All the time. All the time.

I feel you wholly within my arms.
I love you solely, just as you are.
What you don't show me, I still know it by heart,
Because I feel you wholly. You're shining hard. Yes you are. Yes you are.

I ain't callin' you out. I ain't callin' you in.
See there ain't any doubt; I know where you've been.
But I'm giving you ground to start walking again.
Because I'm seeing you now; your light's comin' in. Yes it is.

I hear you deeply. I know every sound.
I love you sweetly, when your words are so proud,
And you say you don't need me, but you're feeling low down.
Well, I hear you deeply. Your light shines out. Anyhow. Anyhow.

I ain't fixin' to blame. I ain't fixin' to use.
See, we're shining the same. Hey baby, I'm shining too.
And I know that I may not shine like I move,
But there's light in me, babe, and it's tellin' the truth. It's sayin:

"I see you clearly, whether you hide.
I love you dearly, whether you lied.
And when you're weary, and you can't confide,
I see you clearly. I see you shine.
All the time. All the time."

Now I Do

Written By: Emily Hurd

There was a space in my arms shaped like you.
A little place in my heart shaped like you.
And all this time, you know I never knew.
Now I do.

There was a spot in my hands shaped like yours.
A little plot in my plans shaped like yours.
That’s not to say I was wasted before.
But now I’m more. Oh, now I’m more.

I could have gone on, I would have gone on living for a thrill, believing I had all that I required.
But whoever sees they ever need a love like this until they meet the one they’ve waited to desire.

There was a gap in my day shaped like you.
A little map of my way shaped like you.
I didn’t see who’d be seeing me through.
Now I do. Oh, now I do.

There was a hole in my home shaped like yours.
A little soul in my own shaped like yours.
I never would have guessed that I could have confessed this before.
But now I’m sure. Oh, now I’m sure

I could have gone on, I would have gone on living for a thrill, believing I had all that I required.
But whoever sees they ever need a love like this until they meet the one they’ve waited to desire.

There was a song in my dreams shaped like you.
There all along, just like me, but shaped like you.
I didn’t know who I wrote my song to,
But now I do. Now I do. Now I do.

Cold Blood

Written By: Emily Hurd

Hey baby, I see you, so why do you need to hide with your name?
On the days that you’re lonely, you are not the only one with your pain.
What moves you inside pours out of your eyes and into my own,
From my view to my thoughts where my feelings get lost in the darkness you’ve known.

Who did this to you? Is that how you knew to do it to me? Who lit you on fire, let you expire, and left you to freeze with cold, cold blood?

Hey baby, I get you, so why can’t you let new mornings arise?
Are you pushing me back before I get a chance to prove otherwise?
What flows through your veins is making its way right into our kiss,
From your mouth to my soul where your hurt takes control and comes out my lips.

Who did this to you? Is that how you knew to do it to me? Who lit you on fire, let you expire, and left you to freeze with cold, cold...?

Hey, why do you run away from the sun and into the storm?
Hey, where did you learn that you will be burned by anything warm?
Who made you believe eventually all kindness will fade,
And why can’t it be me who gives you a reason some things will stay? Hey Hey Hey.

Hey baby, I want you, but with all that you’ve gone through, I fear your reply.
If I were to say, I’ll love you today, and until I die,”
From my mouth to your ear, are you just going to hear whatever you choose?
Will the words just be sounds, all rolling around in a heart you don’t use?

Who did this to you? Is that how you knew to do it to me?
Who lit you on fire, let you expire, and left you to freeze with cold...
Who did this to you? Is that how you knew to do it to me?
Who lit you on fire, let you expire, and left you to freeze with cold cold blood?

Heaven This Way

Written By: Emily Hurd

If it is God each time that you got a sense of peace, then..
I think I might know him, judgin by goin home this evenin:
The crackle of leaves, the hummin of streets, the dancing of flies--
And the thought of your face up ahead just aways, pacifies.

If it is heaven when you start headin for the light,
Then I think I just saw it. I think I just caught a glimpse tonight
While taking the back roads on my way back home in the rain.
Your house is a star. I'm driving my car to heaven this way.

If it is holy not to be lonely in your heart, then..
Something divine must be down the line amidst the darkenin sky.
I'm breathing the air of angels; their sense are on fire.
And I'm hearin the gravel. It's starting to rattle, and it sounds like a choir.

If it is heaven when you start headin for the light,
Then I think I just saw it. I think I just caught a glimpse tonight
While taking the back roads on my way back home in the rain.
Your house is a star. I'm driving my car to heaven this way.

If it is grace each time that you taste a bit of some glory,
Then I think I just kissed a bit of God's lips when I kissed yours.
We lay here for hours; the smell of the flowers cuts the cold.
And it's got me believin that even the seasons have a soul.

If it is heaven when you start headin for the light,
Then I think I just saw it. I think I just caught a glimpse tonight
While taking the back roads on my way back home in the rain.
Your house is a star. I'm driving my car to heaven this way.

Kids In Red Wagons

Written By: Emily Hurd

Children on corners, and the buskers take orders.
And you wrap your arm around my waist.
Dogs in the crosswalk, and the owners make small talk.
And you press your lips against my face.

When the sidewalks are flowin and the windows are open,
Then nobody feels like they are lonely.
When the time starts a-draggin' like the kids in the red wagons,
Then we'll always have Chicago, won't we?

Tear out the pages with our friends on the stages.
And shake out your pockets at the door.
I stake my claim to our spot, and I save you
The best seat this park bench could afford.

When the sidewalks are flowin and the windows are open,
Then nobody feels like they are lonely.
When the time starts a-draggin' like the kids in the red wagons,
Then we'll always have Chicago, won't we?

Roll out the blanket like a red carpet, lay it down
For the summer you starred in my life.
Rewinding to the versions of me as a younger person
Reminds me how we're so alike.

When the sidewalks are flowin and the windows are open,
Then nobody feels like they are lonely.
When the time starts a-draggin' like the kids in the red wagons,
Then we'll always have Chicago, won't we?
When the sidewalks are flowin and the windows are open,
Then nobody feels like they are lonely.
When the time starts a-draggin' like the kids in the red wagons,
Then we'll always have Chicago, won't we?
We will always have Chicago.
We will always have Chicago.

Discography

Lines 2005
Potent One 2006
The Barefoot Session 2006
Love In Flats 2007
A Cache In The Warehouse Floor 2008
Daytime Fireflies 2010
Tins & Pins & Peppermints 2010

Set List

Emily performs either as a solo act for small venues or with a 4 piece rock band, augmented by a string section, for larger gigs. She is available to play 1 or 2 sets of music, approximately 45-50 minutes each. Emily Hurd plays original, upbeat yet intimate, indie-soul songs but adds some covers to the set when appropriate (i.e., longer sets, playing to a new crowd, new venue, city). Emily Hurd shows tend to involve a lot of banter between the performer and the audience, so the venue can expect a crowd ready to dance, sing, and listen intently.

While she is a strong recording artist, Emily is at her best as a performance artist. Her stage presence and audience engagement capture whatever venue she is in. She delivers a highly charged set to fill the streets at an outdoor festival, and she captivates a smaller audience with soulful songs.