SONGWRITING 101 – PART 2

A picture of my mom and I when I was fifteen-years-old.

It began with a melody. The chords were sad and haunting; I liked the subtle mood of this song, but the existing lyrics didn’t fit. They were Cheryl’s words to me; I had added the music thirty years ago. The title of the song was, “A Place I’ve Never Been.”

I decided this song needed some new, special lyrics. I felt ready to write something completely new.

I scrawled out at least ten pages of feelings. I wasn’t trying to make rhymes – I only wanted feelings and words that were simple. Nothing hit me.

A few days later, I tried to sing a line or two with my chords. It didn’t fit. I tried again the next day. Two lines worked, and I was able to create a perfect rhyme that didn’t cause the meaning to stray.

I was elated, because suddenly I had a verse!

Later that same day, I created another verse – and then the bridge came together. It was definitely hard to change the former lyrics, which I was so used to singing. This would be the first time I created completely new lyrics, even if it did go with an existing melody. I felt uplifted and excited!

I played the haunting chords and tried singing those new lyrics, so I could become comfortable with them. Not every word flowed well; a certain amount of crafting was necessary. I couldn’t make up my mind on each line – was this word or that word better? I decided to ask a good friend who is a writer for her feedback.

In the meantime, as I practiced the first verse, I knew the lyrics were powerful for me. Tears began to fall as I sang. They cascaded down my cheeks and my throat quickly closed up.

Message to my friend, Janet:

I have been slowly “crafting” my lyrics for a new song. Sometimes I find the impact is actually lessened with crafting. I had a lot of options, and I created two versions showing some “alternative” words and sentences. Would you be interested in giving me feedback?

I tried to make my song “relatable,” so that it could be someone is leaving not due to age!

Love, Judy

Ps. I started a possible “album cover,” which I wanted to share.

Hi Judy,

Just printed the lyrics to make it easier to compare.  No immediate thoughts, but I’ll look at it again later in the day.

I like the concept of the album cover, but I think you can find a better contemporary picture of yourself, one that conveys your newfound happiness. I think you look grim, serious; pained in the picture you have chosen. Where’s that infectious smile?

More later. xoxox

Hi Janet,

When you read my lyrics – you’ll know why I’m so serious.

Actually, that picture will NOT be the album cover. I made it while having one of my introspective moments. I want my song to be more “universal,” and my cover implies too much that it is a “parental” thing. In fact, when I used the word transparent – it sounded like parent! But I liked the imagery that conveyed – as well as “fading.”

In the meantime, thank you, thank you, for your willingness to look at this.

Love, Judy

Response to my recent message shared with an on-line grief forum:

Judy, your words are put so elegantly. I am impressed with how you put into words what you are/were feeling. It’s clean, crisp and clear yet it does real justice to how grief feels.

Thank you, Shasta

Thank you so much for your message, Shasta.

You have been the only response to what I wrote; I was worried that I sounded “preachy!”

There can be nothing good that comes out of losing your child. However, if I were to search for something – I would say that my son’s death gave me a special gift. I have a way to find words from my heart. Your compliment honors me. That is because I am a songwriter, and I need to find words that are “clean, crisp, and clear” in order to sing smoothly.

I am in the process of writing some new lyrics – after 30 years of not writing songs; this is very exciting for me. All of my transformation came about from writing about my child’s death. I cry with my new lyrics about how it feels watching my elderly mother “fade away.”

Glad I could share with this group.

I know I am farther along in my grief, but my heart still breaks with every message I read.

Judy
Soon to get dirty

Today, I went from there to see a physical therapist to address my painful issues with carpal tunnel syndrome.

His name was Lyn Paul and he has worked with a lot of musicians. Within a minute, he told me I most definitely had carpal tunnel syndrome.

Although he saw mostly musicians, the irony was that he told me there was no chance my problem was caused by my guitar playing! He said, “You can’t imagine the problems computers have caused! Playing an instrument is not pressing on the nerve. With keyboards, the problem comes from resting your wrists on the table as you type. I guarantee you that if you stop doing that, your problem go away!”

After a gentle “treatment” on my wrists, I was told that I could go home and play my guitar. It was important that I stay flexible. My fingers were still tingling, but the ache was gone!

Life was good again. Somewhat.

My mother’s phone call in the later afternoon was again challenging. She didn’t make sense as she explained that, “I was imprisoned during my lunch outing and I’m angry at your brother!”

My mother’s support in dealing with my cardiac child was crucial for me. I am sharing (in progress) what I have been writing. I’m sure it will evolve more – good lyrics involve a lot of rewriting.

My mother’s support in dealing with my cardiac child was crucial for me.

I am sharing what I have been writing. I’m sure it will evolve some more – good lyrics involve a lot of rewriting. The title isn’t set for me at all. Following those lyrics, I am attaching the rest of my songwriting workshop notes.

I wasn’t sure if I should share something so “in progress.” However, I have written this blog as a window into my soul as an artist, writer, and musician.

It is also a window that shares my heartache, and documents the challenges I face as a wife, mother, and a daughter.

AS YOU DISAPPEAR

(Lyrics in progress)

I long to tell you

I’m sad you’re leaving me

I miss the way

you used to be

It’s like I lost you somewhere

my loneliness I can’t share

I long to tell you

but instead I just pretend

it’s easier

not to face the end

I’ve tried to prepare

but your pain is so unfair

I feel, I sense, there’s so much fear

I try to be brave

as you disappear

I long to tell you

that I wonder where you went

It’s as if you’re transparent

you vanished in thin air

I search for you everywhere

I long to tell you

your departure I accept

though as you fade

I’ve slowly wept

of one thing we’re both aware

the memory of love is always there

© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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