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Saturday, May 11, 2019

Keep the Channel Open

Last night, I wrote a song. Ok, this week, I wrote a song. One night I did words, and then last night, I found the melody. Hidden right there in the words. The best place to find a melody, you know.

That was a new process for me. I generally write in a weird way, with the music and the words, a little bit there, a little bit here, sort of all at once. And it often FEELS like I am giving birth... a slow painful birth.

But this was different. I woke up with a phrase that I thought may be a good title, going around my head. I put it into a note on my phone, and that stared at me for a couple weeks. Finally, the other night, sitting here in Screendale, I decided to see what happens. What did that little phrase want to say?

You know, when you don't write for a while, starting to write is a very scary business. Maybe it won't happen again. Maybe, and most likely, it won't be any good. But the advice from those before me has been, don't listen to the fears. That is resistance and that is your enemy. It is your enemy because it prevents you from starting. Or finishing. Resistance prevents starting and finishing. After all, I have far more half-written songs in my computer than finished ones.

So I wrote. I worked in that title phrase. I rhymed every line in the verse.... and you are not 'supposed' to do that, but the song 'called for it'. I wrote half a chorus.... which ended up being THE chorus. It pretty much was an easy exercise. I didn't struggle too much with the ideas, they were just right THERE, and most of the work was just finding rhymes. I put it away because it had to be shit, right? It didn't hurt too much to do it. It didn't feel like I was baring my soul or anything. I was just writing words. Words that rhyme.

This week, I found something on the internet. An advertisement for Spotify for Artists. Cyndi Lauper talking about the best advice she was ever given. She was told, as an artist, you will never ever be satisfied with your work. But that is not your job. Your job is to KEEP THE CHANNEL OPEN.


Now, that was a wow moment for me. My job as an artist is not to create the best I can... my JOB is only to answer the call, just do the work, create, and keep the channel open. Wow, that makes songwriting sound like, well, what it is. An expression of something that comes through. Yeah. A capture of the moment, the thought, an idea, a feeling that is going to float on by you if you don't just STOP and put it down on paper, and sing it to the trees.

So last night, I wrote the notes. Sometimes (most times, actually) I find melodies by just reciting the words until the patterns reveal themselves, and something sticks. This time, being 'rusty', I had the recorder on, to capture that certain phrase that would make it. It seemed like every time I sang the verse and chorus, it was different. It did not seem like there was a real melody there.  Nothing that jumped out at me and was memorable. I recorded 4 or 5 'versions' and then went to listen to them.

You know.... Every one of those versions, I was singing the same melody, a little different note here and there, but basically, I guess, the song was saying, hey dummy, you already got this!!!

And so I sang it though. I got those chills that you (I?) get when a song strikes true to something inside you. And then, following that sort of elation was, of course, the nearly overwhelming fear that this is just shit. Waste of my time writing, and yours for listening.

So, sing it again. Yeah, there is something here that is scary to say, some truth for me that maybe I don't want to say out loud. Something that maybe needs saying.

Tweak the words a little bit, hopefully, to bring that thing I don't want to say, a little more to the front. (Advice given in the past.... find the thing that is the deep truth and let it ring out....)

But... it fits. I think the song is truly saying what it wants to say. It is what it is, it is ringing true to what it wants to be. I think I did my job.

The channel was open.