Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Cracking a Song

I'm in the midst of trying to crack a song. That's what I call it when I've got the basics of the music figured out (that is, I know the verse part and chorus part), but I haven't yet figured out what the song is about. Sometimes I can spend days or even weeks on this stage, while other times it comes to me almost immediately, as if materializing from out of nowhere

The two songs that I would like to share with you today come from that magical and elusive second category. Basically, once I had the music parts to these songs figured out, the lyrics to both of them came together extraordinarily quickly. In fact, between the two (even though these songs were written several years apart), I would be surprised if I even invested a half an hour total in writing them. That's just how it is sometimes.

The first of today's selections comes from my newest album, Embers (2021). It's called Welcome Back, Jack Kerouac, and in the spirit of the song's subject matter, I wrote the lyrics in a stream-of-consciousness. As a teacher, ordinarily, I would say that first drafts are for the writer and not the audience, but this one came out fully formed in one go. For what it is, that kind of makes sense. This song is fundamentally about the role of improvisation and experimentation in art. 
    Beatific, nonspecific, prolific on a road trip
    In search of the great American verse
    The curse of ninety thousand words, all unrehearsed

The other song that I would like to share with you today is one that I wrote in about fifteen minutes in the sunroom of our old house. I was looking out the windows at the bright blue sky, where the razor blade scars of contrails had cut through the air in various directions. 

Thoughout my adult life, I've moved around a lot, including two stints of graduate school. Most all of the friends that I met during this time were just passing through, which is how I always saw myself as well. This song is about how important those friendships are, even though they tend to be finite in nature before one or both parties inevitably moves on to other things. That's more or less what Contrails is about. It comes from my 2017 album Weather Patterns.

    Cutting through the summer sky
    I am always by your side
    Don't know where we started or where this ends
    I will always be your friend

Thanks for listening. Check back often, as I post things to this page almost daily. With any luck, I might have another song in the works. It just depends how long it takes me to crack it, but I think I'm getting there, as a few words and phrases have already begun to emerge.

Enjoy. Share. Add my music to your playlists. Thank you for supporting independent art. 

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