Music soothes my weary soul. That’s something I’ve known since I was a little girl, when my dad made me my very first mix-tape with 3 songs on it. I played that tape over and over and over, and I remember my mother asking my father to please, for the love of God, add some more songs to the tape—she was sick of hearing those songs on repeat. More on my early years with music another week though.
Listening to music and making music, to me, are two very different beasts. Listening to music is a warm, fuzzy beast, more like a teddy bear, who wraps you up in their arms and says “Don’t worry, little one, everything is gonna be alright…” and then suddenly they start crooning like Bob Marley, “I said don’t worry, bout a thing….cuz every little thing, is gonna be alright, yea…” I love being held by the listening-to-music monster….and of course I inevitably end up singing along.
Making music—making my own music—is like a beast with 400 heads. I never know which head will turn to me, and what their mood will be. Perhaps they will be warm and fuzzy, and lyrics and chords will flow out of my pen like rain pours from the sky. Or maybe they will just bite my head off and remind me that I can’t possibly finish that or any other song, because I just can’t. Sometimes I think it’s the making-music beast but it’s really my fear monster in disguise—that guy is always up to no good. A tussle with the fear monster can keep me from making my own music for days, weeks, or months.
Imagine taking some nugget of truth you’ve dug up inside your brain, setting it to a beat and a melody, and then repeating some of the lines over and over again. At times, I feel like I need to write music that doesn’t have choruses—because by the 3rd go-round of a chorus, I feel like my meaning, intention, and depth has gone flat and all I’m left with are words that are empty shells of what they once were. (could be the fear monster giving me feedback on my tunes there!)
I think that’s what makes truly good music great—the fact that even if the words are cheesy or cliché, the singer is able to bust them out, even the 3rd chorus, with conviction—every time, too, when they’re playing live on tour! That’s my goal—to be vulnerable with my music, to set my heart on my sleeve and play it out loud, with conviction, every time.
Some of my favorite lines in music aren’t deep or meaningful at all—they’re just full of truth. “It’s still rock and roll to me.” “You can’t spend what you ain’t got, and you can’t lose what you never had.” (for the first part of that line, pretend credit cards don’t exist (which I personally think would make for a better world!)) “I’ve been waiting for a girl like you to come into my life.” I could go on for, literally, forever….I love lyrics. The people who sing these songs don’t cringe at the fluffiness of them, or apologize for their easy-listening-ness, or skip the 3rd chorus because it’s just so cheesy, they figure you’re done listening. They know the power of the word, and they trust that the music they are singing will fly into the ears of someone who needs to hear it.
Praise be the singers who’ve come before me and the ones who are doing it right now—putting their souls on display. I am forever in dept to you, for you shine a light in this world and show me what’s possible.
And a video bonus for you, dear reader: In the spirit of sharing my music, here’s an original I wrote a few years ago and recorded last fall as an audition video for a talent show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7WKvUjjSe8