Friday, 17 November 2017

Of Non-Days & Songs That Are Out Of Control

Have you ever had one of those days that were full of good intentions and by the end of it you realise you had achieved very little? This could turn out to be one of those days if I don't do something productive soon. Hence this non-post.

I suppose I could credit among today's achievements the couple of hours I spent writing to someone I have never met who is really struggling to cope with her tinnitus; the glockenspiel practice I spent time on, so I'd be ready for percussion lessons I'm teaching tomorrow for a friend who is in America for three weeks; the processing I've been doing about a song I've been working on that will probably have to undergo a massive dose of therapy itself if I am to avoid trouble down the line ...

Songs can be uncontrollable children and this one certainly has been. I've mentioned in other posts that I find writing lyrics difficult, but I have read and heard many times the smug adage that many of the best-known songs have arrived fully-formed and that one should stop tinkering with them and get them finished, learned and shared and that, anyway, the best songs are always the ones you don't mess around with too much. That don't impress me much! I don't know if I shall ever experience such a pleasure or even that I actually agree with it. I do a lot of editing - sometimes over days, weeks, months or, in the case of a couple of songs, years - to make my words say exactly what I mean them to say. Perhaps it is a case of writing, writing, writing and occasionally the subconscious yields a gift as some sort of reward. I don't think I've written in sufficient quantity recently to merit that, although I have spent at least a couple hours most days practising and rehearsing. I don't know how people find the resources both to write and to practise. They require completely different frames of mind. Perhaps this non-post is an address to that very problem.

The most difficult bit for me is finding a subject sufficiently engaging that a song demands to be written - I put it down to my unprofessionalism and lack of imagination. I think this is one of the reasons I love Richard Thompson's songs so much. He seems so prolific and has covered a lot of subjects in his songs. He never seems short of places ito start. If he doesn't have an angry relationship situation to set down in a tear-stained song he'll imagine one, or he'll write about a motorbike, a lost love, a race horse, a Victorian beggar girl, an abused child, a night on the town, a fantasy wedding ... hell, he even managed to write a song about Sting! 

The lyrics of my new song appeared in a first draft quite quickly a couple of days ago at about three o'clock in the morning. By six a.m. I'd written three verses and a substantial chorus with a bridge. I'd even had ideas for the melodies for the bridge and the chorus that I noted down in my manuscript book. I'm trusting that whatever melody I compose for the verses will arrive at some point when I sit down with the intention of doing some work on it. However, the lyrics ... they are fierce and angry and, while that's not normally a problem, this time it is. I don't know whether that anger is justified or where it should be directed - which is just another way of avoiding admitting that I really need to look in the mirror. I have directed my anger at someone who didn't deserve it while I was being a prima donna. I let a personality glitch spill into the professional attitude of which I am so proud.

Have you ever met someone who was probably full of good intentions and they simply rubbed your ego up the wrong way? This was a case of that. I perceived a request being made, I offered a solution, the solution was rejected, I took it personally and the ointment I applied to my thin and bruised ego was to stop talking and retreat into my metaphorical ivory tower. Without giving too much away I talked it over briefly with the wise bass player last evening and I'm glad we found time for that brief exchange as he was preparing for a gig with his own band. Now I have to discipline my delinquent song. I've been thinking of ways to do that. Pity really, I did come up with some first-rate bitching!  

Notebooks and pencil on the bed and at the ready.

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