I Want to Write You a Song
This year I started a bullet journal - nothing fancy - just a way of keeping track of all those little jobs that mount up and swamp me on a daily basis. It has mostly worked fine. I have kept on top of the tasks that move life in what is mostly the right direction. I have the occasional longish gap where I file nothing - sometimes there is literally nothing really pressing that I HAVE to do (bliss) or I sometimes sink back into that CBA feeling that I started a bullet journal to get out of.
At the top of my April tasklist was "Write a Song"! As if it was something that I could just get done and tick off with a feeling of accomplishment. On the first of May there is no 'done' tick against that bullet! For a start I cannot write lyrics - deep, meaningful, clever, funny - nothing comes. I have written out a number of chord progressions but they all sound too familiar.
I have 'written' songs before as a student up in my room with a battered ol' guitar. My favourite was called 'You Bastard' - it was about a former boyfriend who cheated on me with a petite, clever and non-gothy psychology student who definitely did not shop in Oxfam or Quiggins *. I believe they ended up getting married so I forgave. Another was about a guy who looked a bit like Judd Nelson, titled, very imaginatively, The Other Judd Nelson. I can't really remember how either of them went - not keepers then! So it's not looking promising is it!?
I am quite nifty at putting a medley or a mash up together - check out Wirral Ukulele Orchestra's banging Oil in My Lamp/Marylou/Blue Moon medley:-) But when it comes to anything original my head just won't let anything out - maybe it's too scared about what might happen if it did!
I thought I would ask for some top tips from people who can write songs. Here's what some of them said:
Stephen & Rekha Fowler (fabulous poets of Ooty and the Cloud fame and playing a set of their own songs at this years' Summer Strum as Wild Pear) say to write a song that you like; that has meaning to you, not what you think other people want to hear - "It is possible someone else may like it too".
For Mike Flaherty (The Boy with the Greyhound Tattoo) lyrics are of the utmost importance - "re-write and re-write until you're 100% happy". Same for the music - he advises to keep re-visiting your song and not to be afraid to experiment with the musical structure - "work on your song as much as you can to get it perfect before you release it into the wild". Mike will be showing us what he means during his main stage set this year.
Zahra Lowzley thinks that melody and harmony are what she finds most important in a commercial song; it has to be catchy; hummable. I tend to agree - I LOVE a lot of songs for their musicality alone and would not have a clue what the lyrics are half the time. There are also songs that are really really catchy musically but its often for the best not to think too hard about what they are singing about.
"Creating songs can be very therapeutic" says Zahra. Lyrics can be a great way of venting without confronting people face to face and upsetting them - well "You Bastard" works on that level! Zahra asks the pertinent question - "why are you doing it and what are you trying to express?"
To be completely honest with you I think I just want to write a one hit wonder that is played on the radio for all of eternity and leaves a legacy for my family with a bit left over to help others!! The JK Rowling of the musical world! A musical philanthropist :-) I don't want to do it as a means of self-expression - I have no desire to let people into my head! LOL! There's a catchy song out there and I am going to find it! As I write "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" has come on the radio - the second time this week - I am taking that as a sign from the God of Rock! "We are Wild Stallions"!
Not to be beaten then - I have migrated "Write a Song" to the top of May's tasklist to give it another go! Maybe I'll let you know if it happens!
Thanks to Steve, Mike and Zahra for the tips. They are all playing as part of the Summer Strum Songwriters Segment on Saturday and Sunday mid afternoons alongside Nicki Walton who is coming all the way from my home county of Kent with her cleverly penned and very funny songs, local lovely Alison Benson who has been raising her profile in the ukulele world these past few years and David Swann coming from Yorkshire with his gorgeous folk songs based on local tales. More about these good folk to follow on Facebook.
Hope you have had a great Bank Holiday weekend - I know I have. Maybe I'll write a song about it.
Peace and Ukes. See some of you at GNUF next weekend!!
Emma & Pat xx
(*cool alternative market in a 3 storey building demolished to make way for progress - Liverpool One).