Thursday, April 30, 2009

April Songwriters' Night at Sparkytown

Wow...the month is almost over and I never got around to blogging about the Songwriters Woodshed at Sparky's. And it was a fabulous night, definitely one worth writing about. Since the surgeon said no to surgery (lots of physical therapy in store for me, so I guess that means I'm OK to type even though it hurts like crazy) I guess I'd better get caught up on all I've wanted to write about. (Tomorrow I'll tell you about an awesome live show we caught at Sparky's put on by Dana "Short Order" Cooke and his Band Joe and then you're liable to hear some ranting about the health care system we have.)

Almost every song presented at the April session seemed fairly polished and near performance level. Each one was unique. What I found even more delightful was the level of critique offered. There is an elevated comfort level within the group....perhaps not with those having to listen to the remarks offered about their work....but definitely with those willing to offer suggestions, which is sometimes even more difficult than accepting critique. Without fail the word changes that were put out there for consideration made sense and I even understood some of the "you need to add a bridge or chord change here" conversations. There did not seem to be an awkward moment.

I loved one song about arm pain (as I sat there still in an arm sling) even though its message was much deeper. I've come to expect lovely poetry from this gal as well as haunting melodies; she didn't let me down.

Another woman's "Shaky Ground" ended the evening....and it's stayed with me. It reminds me of an old Emmylou Harris tune.

Usually I am totally lost when songs rely on Biblical references to get their messages across, but I was able to follow a delightful song called "Martha, not Mary", even after initially thinking the Martha referred to was Martha Stewart. I wasn't alone in thinking that, so that was good. It was a great song about questioning our quiet desperation, a song that I am certain would speak to many women.

A newcomer to the group left the line that played in my head for days: "I could catch a straight if the lady shows up to dance." I loved his song about all that happened to him when he left home. For a youngster, he's off to a great start and I hope he keeps wearing his heart of his sleeve.

"The Picture" was a haunting tale of race relations past and present that makes you think and I hope I hear it live some day; I'm amazed that this songwriter keeps pulling important issues out of his idea pot to mold into songs to sing to us....and glad he does.

And there's a songwriter I long to hear each month because I never understand his songs yet I yearn to hear what marvelous rhyme schemes he'll come up with, wonder what he'll make me think his song is about and what debate his piece will inspire; his "Renewed Somehow" fit the bill again. I really think there's genius in his words, we just aren't smart enough to know it.

And my favorites of the night? A lovely ballad "Too Young to Realize" that had several interpretations (and the other song played by this performer during the break was memorable, also.) "Too Young to Realize" was a pure blend of emotion and melody, the kind of song you'd always listen to and find yourself remembering exactly what you were doing the first time you heard it.

I really like it when the songwriters return with a song they've already presented to the group, and then worked on some more and try again. I've seen this songwriter struggle with "Town Pond" --he's said he's felt he's "wasted" too much time on it, although I strongly disagree. I think this song simply means too much to him, and that's certainly not a bad thing. He weaned it down from the first version we heard to a leaner, easier-to-listen to version. He lost some of his anger in telling his story, but I think he'll find where, with just the change of a word of two, he can find the right blend and get that back. It's a story worth telling. It's a very good song, on it's way to being a great song. I hope he stays with it. It's worthy of his time.

Can't wait till next week to see what the group brings. I am always humbled by their talents. Come on down to Sparkytown....1st Tuesday of the month....6:30 pm.

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