Monday, February 28, 2011

Blocked No More

I finally did it. This weekend, with some free time on my hands and very little in my energy reserves, I broke through my songwriter's block. Block...it was more like a brick wall, but in any case, I chipped away at it until something finally got through. On a quality level I'm not sure where it ranks, but hey, after 20 years I'll take anything. It's a beginning, if nothing else.


Lately I've been listening to a few singer/songwriters, hoping to find some inspiration. To hear how their lyrics flow, to hear what kinds of words they use, and what kinds of melodies they chose to pair with those lyrics. I've never been one of those musicians who has songs mysteriously just "come" to me, as in a dream. For as long as I can remember I've always had to sit down and really work at crafting a song. Some were ok, some were crap. Such is life. I was hoping some of the creativity of these other singer/songwriters would seep into my subconscious by way of osmosis...but not to the point where I might end up unwittingly copying them in any way. I got some ideas that I filed away in my brain for a later date. (I instantly forgot those ideas because I didn't write any of them down.)

I had a complete set of lyrics and had no music for them...then one night I was noodling around on my guitar, and came up with a chord progression I kind of liked. And I decided I was in a 3/4 waltz shuffle kind of mood, so I played the chord progression that way. I liked it. Unfortunately, I did not like it with the lyrics I had. So...I started writing, in a stream of consciousness sort of way, just writing anything that popped into my head. I'm not sure what made me start thinking of a particular person and situation, but for some reason I started to think of my earlier "Rejection" post...and the writing became fast and furious-less fast and more furious I suppose.

Then I tried to mesh the words I had written with the chord progression, but it just didn't seem to want to fit together. Something wasn't quite right, but all of a sudden the dam burst, and ideas and melodies just came flooding into my brain. I grabbed my iPhone, which has a handy little voice recorder in it, and I quickly recorded little snippets before they vanished from my mind as quickly as they appeared. Within the next hour, I had a completed song on paper. I was elated, thinking to myself "I did it! I finally did it! After scraping off 20 years of rust, I finally managed to find that former me that was a singer/songwriter/musician and drag her back to the surface. I took a deep breath and enjoyed that triumphant moment, before playing the whole song again, just to make sure it was real.

The song is not ready for public ears just yet. My musician friends will agree that it takes multiple run-throughs and edits, polishing and perfecting, before a song is really a song. I'm sure I'll tweak and edit some more here and there, because every time I play the song, I find something else to change that makes it that much better. Eventually, when I'm satisfied, (although I'm never completely satisfied, and I never really feel that my songs are as good as other people's) I'll post the song online somewhere, either on YouTube or some mp3 file sharing site. I'm not sure how to go about recording it just yet...we had much less sophisticated recording equipment twenty years ago. I remember thinking I was so advanced in 1985, using my Tascam 4 Track recorder to lay multiple tracks. Now everything is done on laptops, which is great but I am not yet familiar with the software that is available or the process for using any of it.

I'll get there, I'm sure, just like I finally got back to once again being a musician, and oh how I missed it. Next project: those lyrics I didn't use that are still missing their melody. I'm really hoping I'm on a roll, and the wall will remain down.

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