I am excitedly working just now on new songs for recording, well,not recording yet, but more for designing and developing. All day long I am humming little phrases, changing keys, changing words changing rythms. Once I meet up with the Talented Two in a week or so, we will take my scribbles and mood-inspired poems and fashion music around them. They, not I, will layer melodies and harmonies, suggest quirky add-ons that create depth and texture, colour and light. And dark. All I am required to do is to spend this preparation time doing what I do know how to do – put words together in a way that tells a story, that give a hint of pain or laughter, to show and not to tell it out too much, for we all like to fill in the spaces allowed us with our own feelings. This is why some songs last forever and, to be honest, a lot of them make very little sense once we try to explain them. A Whiter Shade of Pale was scribbled down in the back of a van in between gigs, so I am told, and, when asked what it meant, the writers just shrugged. It’s not like schoolwork this song-writing thing, not at all. I don’t have to show my workings, nor do I have to justify them, but what I do have to do is sing them with emotional connection as if what I am telling you is really how I feel. I don’t write songs about Percy the Pig, or Nellie the Elephant, although that song is great to sing to grandchildren if I include all the actions. I write about feelings.
It thinks me about doing what I do best, and not wishing I was best at something else. At school I longed to be an athlete but I was so very far from getting beyond ‘ath’ that it would have made a whole heap of sense to do my best, loathe all of it and spend my free time writing. The problem with writing is that the only time I found the limelight is in English Lit classes and that was providing I kept to the letter of the law concerning Good Composition. Nowadays, it is fine to write slang, a lot of which has found its way into the Oxford Dictionnary, which is fine if it works for the piece. It is not ok to swear, but, then, what is swearing now? I can read words that would have had my school mistress dialling the emergency services had she ever seen such an assemblage of letters in print, let alone heard them read out in class. The book would have magically disappeared from the Reading Shelf and parents would have been informed.
In songwriting, words can be hinted at, the front or the back of them lost in a rising instrumental. It’s infuriating for those of us who want to cover a song and we must needs leap to Google for the lyrics, but I am encouraged by the Talented Two that it sometimes really works best that way and that my Elocution Prize might consider staying in my past. Enunciating every word as if the whole world depended for its survival on my clear conscise rendering of a particular phrase, is, it seems, vanity of vanities. Who gives a rip?
As I wrote my book, I let go of the Eng Lit teacher, pushed her off my shoulder and reminded her she was most probably dead and should shut up. Although I love good prose and therefore find bad prose irritating enough to put me off the whole story, I find that I look more for a gentle sway, an easy rise of words that don’t trip me up with their brilliance, but, instead, show me an unfolding about which I am fascinated to know more. I want to be led outside of myself and into another world and, yet, I still want that pull on my heartstrings, that connection to my own experiences, my own feelings. When I read the tale of someone who is living through something I hope I will never live through, something that involves the loss of a child, perhaps, I will think about my own children, my love for them, my fears for them, and, in my heart, I will re-affirm my vow to them, the one I made as each one was born, a vow to protect and defend them to the death. If I read of a world catastrophe, as a back drop to a tale of people, I will re-jig my priorities in that light. In short, I will make changes because, through the words of another, I am changed.
I hope I can do the same with my songs. For now, I am playing word games, reducing sentences down, questioning the need for all the adverbs and adjectives to be there at all, for what I can do, through my voice, as long as it is emtionally connected, is to pull back to indicated thoughtfulness, pain, fear, gentleness, or bring the air more forcefully across my vocal chords to show power, anger or determination. I can leave out the paraphernalia and keep just the crystals……ones that should make it sparkle, if I get the light