In July hubby and I were treated to a lovely evening at the home of Mark and Alice Zane. After a tasty dinner, Mark grabbed his guitar and said he was going to play me the song he would be taking to the next Songwriters Woodshed so I could tell him if I liked the lyrics. How delighted I was to get a sneak preview of the next Mark Zane masterpiece!
And then he started playing a graceful melody and singing lyrics that startled me: it was a poem I had written. I was numb. Why was he doing this? Was he making fun of me? I’m a poet, not a songwriter. I think there is a huge difference between the two arts. I waited for him to stop playing and go into the song he had really written. He continued to play, the melody entranced me and I was speechless. If you read this blog regularly, you know I am a huge fan of Mark’s music. And there he was, singing one of my poems. I was honored, humbled.
About ten years ago, the Marketing Director at the oncology practice I worked for asked me to write a poem for a dinner being given by the Research Department for folks participating in a clinical trial. She asked me on a Monday morning and I read the poem at the dinner that Thursday night. It was well received by most. My boss at the time and I had our usual falling out about it. She felt I should have written about “heroes”; I had a different definition of a hero in my heart. The poem remained on the desks of several staff…..which may have merely been a means to suck up to the HR woman….but it was also picked up by other research programs in other states. The emotion of the poem touched some.
“The Urge” has a cadence, because I knew I had to read it out loud and it’s easier for me to do that with a rhythm and a rhyme if a poem has no personal meaning to me. And that’s probably why Mark chose to set it to music. Still, we knew that the songwriters group would NOT know what to do with it. It had no “arc”. It didn’t “say” anything. There is no chorus, no bridge, only three short verses. And the music, written mostly in minor chords, might be said to not match the lyrics, though I personally loved the contrast, finding it almost hymn-like.
It wasn’t a hit with the group, almost exactly as we expected it not to be. It may not have been fair to them to even present it, but it did generate a discussion about the melody. Sometimes the group gets hung up on critiquing lyrics only, so that was nice. The critique of my lyrics actually thrilled me…..as Wendy said, “You’ve been initiated!”….even though some of the lines rejected were the same others quoted as being the most meaningful to them. That’s perfectly fine with me: I want my words to mean different things to different people.
My delight came when Mark commented that he thought the group would know it wasn’t one of his songs and another songwriter said he thought it sounded like a Mark Zane lyric. THAT was music to my ears! Mark, my sincerest thanks. And, again, thanks to the group for allowing me to listen in every month. You always inspire….