Thursday, November 5, 2009

Torch Songs and Porch Songs: November Songwriters Woodshed

Even though it was a smaller group than usual gathering for the November Songwriters Woodshed at Sparkytown on Tuesday night, the songs presented didn’t disappoint. If I didn’t know better, however, I’d have said there had been a theme for the evening, as four of the seven songs presented were about lost loves. And two of the songs took place on porches.

The first of what I’m calling “torch songs” was titled “A Thousand Times a Day” and the first lines about wanting to be just friends drew me in. After the relationship ends, the singer only thinks about the lost love “a thousand times a day”. It was nice to have Dana contribute a song. In my opinion, he needs to do this more often; it adds polish to his critique of others when he presents his own work to them in return.

“I’m On the Rebound” was a very nice change from mostly folk melodies and I long to see Wendy perform this one on stage; her energy can make this one special. Chris’s song (not my hubby, another Chris) about autumn and a photo on the wall reminding the singer of a lost love generated a bit of conversation regarding the meaning of “water under the bridge” and what that represented, although I felt several of us got it the first time. I don’t remember the title of this piece and do not have the lyrics to look back at today; however, the song has stayed with me.

Sometimes there is a division of the sexes in the room after a song is done that is vividly apparent; you can almost see it in the air. The men do not understand the lyrics written by a woman sometimes. It’s not a matter of intelligence, it’s more genetics, I believe. One such lyric last night that I found magical that had some of the guys shaking their head was from a song called “From Here Ever After” written by Joanne: Did I know my own skin? (I always love it when I turn to hubby and ask if he understood it and he paraphrases back my understanding of it; that’s why he’s my husband and I love him bunches.) Sometimes it’s not about the story; it’s about the emotion of the song.

A quirky song from Tom, a newcomer to the group, about lawn decorations, “Exterior Decorator”, made me chuckle but needed a little more work. It was easy to picture the yard he was describing.

Songs that seem transparent on the surface but may not be so simple appeal greatly to me, and I think we may have heard one in “Don’t Be No Fool”, written by Gavan, a musician that intimidates me by his memorable rhymes and guitar picking. I often ask myself “what’s he really saying?” It’s always a delight to hear his latest work, even if I can’t figure it out. Maybe we’re not supposed to.

And that leads me to my favorite of the night, one of the “porch” songs. This song, currently titled “Vacherie, Louisiana”, paints a portrait of a moment in time. For me, the song was a lonely man that life was passing by until someone stopped to take his picture and made him feel important for a minute. No one else saw it that way, and that’s ok. There were lots of other interpretations. And isn’t that the way a really good song should reach us? Shouldn’t it keep us thinking, keep us wondering, keep us rolling the words around in our heads, humming the tune? I loved it.

Thanks again, gang, for the tunes, for the way you inspire without even being aware of it. Sparky, I hope the music never truly dies at Sparkytown because it belongs there. See you all next month!


Wendy said...

Ohh I like your take on Mike's song. I wish you had shared that with everyone. If he re-writes it at all that would be a cool angle.

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