Thursday, September 10, 2009

September Songs

After a month’s hiatus, the songwriters gathered again at Sparkytown last Tuesday. More about the songs later. First I want to share an exchange made by two of the musicians that I was so glad to hear. I’m paraphrasing here, but you’ll get the drift (and I’m not using names as I didn’t get permission):

Musician: Can you tell us what you meant by the verse that began……..?
Songwriter: I’d rather not get into the logic behind the song. I’d rather it be about the emotion of the song.

Yes! The song did not require explanation….it was about embracing possibility, and having possibility embrace you in return. Or at least that’s how I interpreted it. Someone else may have found a different meaning. And isn’t that the purpose of some songs? Not every song is supposed to have a clear cut beginning, middle and end; not every song should tell a complete story or mean the same thing to everyone. How nice it was to have a songwriter actually say this.

Many of the songs presented at the Words and Music Songwriters Woodshed are of the folk genre, which indeed do tell a story. And that’s fine. I love folk songs. I’m also drawn to those mystical lyrics that make you wonder what in the world was happening in someone’s life to make them put those words down on paper at that time (think of Leonard Cohen) ….and what could be learned from such words. It’s what makes music interesting to me, listening to lyrics that reflect an experience someone else may have had that I might identify with on some level. This song about possibilities spoke in volumes, possibly because I could fill in the blanks with my own experience. I didn’t need the details of the songwriter’s experience to make it real. I didn’t need the logic.

Other songs performed touched me also, particularly “Tuesday’s Song”, which included a line about Memorial Day. There was some discussion about the use of this holiday in the song. I felt it quite appropriate to use this for the day a relationship is over, for would that not be a memorial day? I loved the song….and boy, that gal can sing!

“One Drop of Rain” had delightful lyrics with surprises tossed in to keep you listening for what came next and a melody that pleased. It was a very catchy tune. Another melodic wonder with lyrics to match was “Make the World Go Slow”. Although there was some discussion about whether references to actual locations, in this case Lake Champlain, were good or bad for the song, I love this songwriter’s use of local venues and towns. His lyrics are always interesting, make you think and never bore me with worn out clichés.

One of the talented singer-songwriters in this group never fails to amaze me with his rhyme schemes and complicated songs. “Hang Onto Me Baby” was a delight…..and it always seems to me as if he sings each and every note he plays on his guitar.

“In Your Head” was painful to hear….not because it was not a wonderful song, but because it was so real, you understood exactly what the singer was going through. It reminded me of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” I just wanted to hug the songwriter afterwards. The song gave me chills.

The two youngest members of the group delivered two very strong songs. “Before It’s Too Late” was about not making the same old mistakes….and the words rang true. And my hat is off to anyone who can write Abraham Lincoln into song lyrics and make it interesting; “Hold Me to the River” did just that!

My disappointment of the evening was that one of the songwriters came empty handed. He’s been working on a lovely piece, “The Olive Tree”, and I’d hoped we would get a chance to hear it again. I hope his lack of a song to share was only due to his not having enough time to work on anything and not discouragement of any sort.

Oh…..yeah…..I almost forgot. One of the songwriters wrote a melody to a poem I’d written. We presented it to the group. I’ll have more to say about that in another post, so stay tuned.

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