“I am a machine that turns experiences into songs.”
--Gye Greene, July 2015
It's fairly typical -- although episodic -- to be struck by an experience, situation, or turn of phrase -- and a song spontaneously develops inside my head. Sometimes I have to squeeze it a bit; other times it just comes pouring out -- and I have to write it down quickly, or else it evaporates and I lose it forever: I've lost some choice
phrasing because I didn't write it down.
Once I've written down the words, however, they sometimes continue to evolve. I find that when I'm singing them to myself -- especially if I'm doing it from memory -- I'll sing the words "wrong". And usually the "wrong" way is better: either the flow is smoother, or I get an unexpected twist.
Here are two examples.
One is an old one -- circa 1989(!!!) -- called "Casablanca Nights". The original line was "If you were a flag I'd put my hand on my heart, and tell you that
it's for thee I sing
" -- a reference to "The Star Spangled Banner".
However, I always sing it -- accidentally -- as "I'd put my hand on
". This revision no longer makes direct sense -- but it's more cryptic, and possibly more interesting.
Another is a song from the last year, about an older woman and her carer. The original line was:
“Susan – will you cut some cake for me?
Then, just to improve clarity, I changed it to:
“Susan", she said, "Will you cut some cake for me?”
But, as I was walking from the train station to my car, and singing it to myself (from memory), I was mis-singing it as:
“Susan", she said, "Could you cut a slice of cake for me?”
This version had a better flow, and also much stronger alliteration: lots of C's and S's.
So apparently my brain -- and my mouth -- naturally smooth over the rough spots and produce better lyrics and phrasing.
Speaking of songwriting: two of my three children (The Girl, and Mechanical Boy [B2]) occasionally write songs -- which (of course) pleases me. The girl has probably written five, and Mechanical Boy has written three, I think. Even though they both take piano lessons, they haven't actually set them to music -- but they do have the words and the main melody line.
Their writing songs is probably a combination of natural inclination, plus modelling: I've placed copies of recordings of a few of my old songs on their mp3 players -- and they already knew that "Daddy writes songs". So writing songs is something "normal", rather than exotic or "regular people don't do that".
No songs yet from B2 (Blondie Boy). Maybe later; maybe not at all.
Labels: family, quotes, songwriting