Shelly Peiken Spreads Mother’s Day Love With “Notebook” Video

You may not have heard of Shelly Peiken, but you’ve undoubtedly heard music she’s written. The songwriter has penned such hits as Christina Aguilera’s “What a Girl Wants” and “Come on Over,” Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch,” Mandy Moore’s “I Want to be With You,” Brandy’s “Almost Doesn’t Count,” and The Pretenders’ “Human.” In August, she’ll be fulfilling a lifelong dream by releasing her own album, 2.0 etc. and The third single off the album is “Notebook,” an ode to her daughter that’s arrived just in time for Mother’s Day.

The song is about a notebook that Peiken has kept since her daughter, Layla, was born, documenting all the special moments in her life. “I think that writing things down is important,” she says. “She loves the idea that that book is waiting for her and it’s hers for whenever she wants it.” In the video, Peiken shares photos of herself and her daughter, who is a supporter of her music.

Peiken started out her musical career as an artist herself, then began having more success writing songs for other people. The success didn’t come easy, though — she remembers being desperate for a big break while she was pregnant with Layla, unsure how she would support her and thinking she may have to go back to waiting tables. Thankfully, that was just when she began writing with Brooks for the singer’s 1997 breakout LP Blurring the Edges.

“It felt like we broke ground at that time,” she remembers. “There were male artists that sang songs with ‘bitch’ in them, but God forbid a woman does it. We had a lot of pushback from radio. We weren’t necessarily calling anyone a bitch; we called ourselves a word that represented a complicated woman. Now, I look back and think, it doesn’t have to be a woman. It could be a man, it could be a child. It’s just about how we are complicated beings.”

Even though she was one of few female songwriters in the business, Peiken didn’t second-guess herself. “I never thought of myself as a woman songwriter; I thought of myself as a songwriter,” she says. “If I had a remarkable song in my pocket, I was going out with it, and I was a gentle bull in a china shop, playing it for everyone who would listen until they heard it. I just walked right through with blinders on and said what I wanted to say.”

After a while, Peiken felt less and less like the songs she wanted to write lined up with what artists were looking for, so she took a break from songwriting and wrote a book, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, whose audio version was nominated for a Grammy.

Since following her own creative pursuits had worked out for her, she decided to continue by creating an album. “This baby has been gestating inside me since the minute I wanted to make an album when I was a young girl, and now I’m giving birth to it,” she says.

“I’m not some new it girl on Spotify; that’s never going to happen,” she adds. “I don’t even check my following; I’m trying not to pay attention. But enough people email me or text me or DM me and say, ‘Gosh, I heard that song and it made me cry’ or ‘it brought me back to these wonderful memories,’ and I got these messages that make me feel like I am adding value to the lives of others. I don’t know what’s next, but that feels really right right now.”

RSVP HERE: Bad Waitress play Mercury Lounge + MORE

Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE – your source for the best NYC shows and interviews with some of our favorite local live bands.

photo credit: Michael Amaral

I first heard about Bad Waitress from a friend who described their live set as “a 100mph party train ride,” and they have been on my radar to see their next grand return to NYC ever since. Hailing from Toronto, ON, Bad Waitress are Canada’s premiere alt-punk party band consisting of Kali-Ann Butala (vox/guitar), Katelyn Molgard (guitar), Nicole Cain (bass) and Eva Moon (drums). Today they have released “That Sedative,” their first single and video since 2018 (watch below), and this week they will be rocking NYC at Mercury Lounge on January 22nd with Castle Rat and Old Lady. We chatted with them about their experiences touring in the US vs. Canada and their upcoming trip to Las Vegas.

AF: What is the difference between touring in Canada vs touring the US?

BW: US has shorter drives… and a lot of signs for selling fireworks and Jesus.

AF: What are your favorite cities to play in the US and Canada? What’s the craziest drive you’ve ever done on tour? Craziest tour story in general?

BW: It’s hard to choose really! Every city has its own place in our hearts but so far Detroit, Brooklyn, and Montreal have been major highlights. Our craziest drive hands down was straight from Toronto to Saskatoon which lasted 32 hours. Still have nightmares of that… woof!

We have so many crazy stories. One that sticks out is the mysterious black eye Kali got after our weekend playing Fest in Gainesville. Still don’t know to this day! Playing Crystal Lake fest two years ago was insane too. Katelyn met a woman who was former world champion body builder and ended up crashing at a Christian retreat owned by said body builder’s father while Kali disappeared into the woods while on acid to softly fall asleep in a nest of pine needles.

AF: You’re playing Punk Rock Bowling festival in Las Vegas next May. What bands are you most excited to see? 

BW: We’re definitely stoked for Lunachicks. They are clearly a huge inspiration for our drummer Eva’s fashion sense. Haha. Also Cock Sparrer and Propaghandi.

AF: What other plans do you have for 2020 post-record release?

BW: We are playing at the Mercury Lounge in Manhattan January 22 and also playing New Colossus in Brooklyn in March as well as SXSW and Pouzza in Montreal! So much to do!

RSVP HERE for Bad Waitress, Castle Rat, and Old Lady @ Mercury Lounge on 1/22. 21+ / $10 / Early Show (6:30pm)

More great shows this week:

1/17 Big Bliss, Parlor Walls, Painted Zeros, Free $$$ @ Alphaville. 21+ / $10-12 RSVP HERE

1/18 Nation of Language, Lou Tides, and Cutouts @ Baby’s All Right. 21+ / $10-12 RSVP HERE

1/18 NY Night Train Soul Clap & Dance-Off with Jonathan Toubin and Lenny Kaye @ Market Hotel. All Ages / $10 RSVP HERE

1/18 The Hum Presents: Greta Kline (of Frankie Cosmos), Jillian Medford (of Ian Sweet), Emily Yacina @ National Sawdust. 21+ / $18 RSVP HERE

1/18 YACHT, Juiceboxxx @ Rough Trade. 21+ / $17-20 RSVP HERE.

1/19 Caroline Polachek (solo keyboard set + signing) @ Rough Trade. All Ages / Free / 2pm / RSVP HERE

1/21 Frankie Rose, Brandy @ Union Pool. 21+ / Free RSVP HERE

1/23 Water From Your Eyes, Sean Henry, Shadow Year, Sourdoe @ Trans-Pecos. All Ages / $10 RSVP HERE