FAWM blog 2011
So- this is a 'blog-like' experience about FAWM (February Album Writing Month at www.fawm.org)
In the month of February, people all over the world try to write 14
songs in 28 days and then post them to share. All feedback is warmly
welcomed, so feel free to write in my "Guestbook
" (tab on this site) or on the FAWM site
(if you are also a "fawm-er.")
Since these are 'in progress,' please note that they are not 'gig-ready'
and exist right now as 'songlets' that will turn into full songs after i
stop this writing frenzy and give them some more attention...
Dedicated to anyone trying to make art, as a lifestyle, a hobby, or in order to function in the world we live in...
Song 14- Collaboration with Brian Franke
"tripping on the cracks and uneven ground"
After meeting for coffee, or maybe while
meeting for coffee, we decided to co-write a song. Since I needed 2
songs that day to reach the 14 songs in 28 days we tried to finish it in
one hour (well, that turned into 2 or so, but we were close!). Of course all songs don't have to be written in an afternoon, but it's fun to see
what you can come up with if you push yourself a little (in the spirit
of FAWM). We started from scratch- sitting in the living room trying to
figure out how to start, Brian just put these chords together...and
then I just started singing melodies and then we just went from there.
Do you start with the music or the lyrics? I don't know, we only have
58 minutes left. Well, what's the song about? Acceptance? I really
like the kite string line...so it goes. The
first part we both really liked was the chorus, then 20 minutes later,
we decided we both thought the chorus was weaker than our favorite
verse. So, we put our favorite verse as the chorus. It
was wildly (and unexpectedly) fun to bounce ideas off of someone and
put his ideas in too. I've just never done that before while in the
process of writing. Possibly the ultimate in collaboration.
Song 13- The beginning is cool...then it gets weird...
"Pretty woman, little baby heavy laying on your dreams"
I like the beginning enough to finish this song so far. This was a day I
was stuck, so I just went back in my notebook and found a page of
lyrics that hadn't been used or turned into a song and just made a song
of it. It was an interesting experiment- but I have no idea what it's
about or if it's about anything. Definitely needs some editing. As
Regina Spektor says "you can write, but you can't edit"...so
editing-skills are a must! ;-)
Song 12- Thank you for the inspiration! You know who you are!
"you have inspired me to be more than I could be individually"
is my last song of the month. I was just feeling so great to be
finishing and thankful for all the people who have sincerely and
personally encouraged me along the way! This song is to all those
people- Sean, Dad, Mom, Missy, Julie, Anne, Sara Hickman, Peter Mulvey,
Anais Mitchell, Chloe, Brian Franke (who co-wrote with me just before
this song), Jason Merritt (producer of my upcoming CD), Gregg Hammond,
Scott McCall, Scott Carle, Kirk Bryson, Jeremy Bellion, Joanne, Ted, and
my family, and my husband's family, and several people who never told
me their names, and so many other friends (without even knowing
it!)!!!! This is just specifically in the past tiny time. Sometimes I
feel so lucky, when I stop and consider the 'great' parts of life.
THROW ME A ROPE
Song 11- Thanks for all the recent ropes I've been thrown
"throw me a rope when I am hopeless from the pace of fear and I cannot see clear"
I've been stumbling through this songwriter-musician-performer world
lately. Regularly, my husband and my parents throw me that rope. If
they are busy, I have a couple friends on the top of my 'recently
called' list that are always willing to answer if the "pace of fear" is
faster than my pen is moving on the paper that day. And then sometimes,
all those people are busy with their own lives (as it should be,
right??) ;-). This day, I went to song-sharing circle. And the
feedback I got after playing was overwhelming. I played a couple newer
songs and they seemed so genuinely impressed and supportive. And I was
just touched by the whole experience. I've had a few of these with
people I don't know in advance and I'm always amazed at the power of music at making these sincere immediate connections. Thank you world, specifically and to everyone I have already met and will meet. I feel lucky for each one of those connections, all at once it can be overwhelming in a profoundly good way.
SCRATCH OFF THE LABEL
Song 10- I Accept it, just as it is
"I would like to look for the good, yeah, I'm okay with the imperfection"
song is just about me feeling exhausted from the judgment in the
world. Of course judgment is a necessary skill- judge that the guy
throwing rocks at you isn't being nice...may help you run away faster.
But sometimes it seems there are so many sides to everything it's
difficult to navigate it all. And that's when I most feel that I just
want to accept everyone as they are, and myself as I am. And maybe that
acceptance will encourage everyone to exist in the world with a little
more harmony. There's always hope, right?
Song 9- Ode to my Inspiration Dog!
"you are unencumbered hero"
This song is about my dog. Obviously. I don't grab other people's
tongues. My dog is super-fabulous. And together we have gone to
college and played hours of flute, loved graduate school, wrote my first
song, took vacations, joined a band, tried to be 'runners' and failed,
been to the beach, learned to play the guitar, got married, got my first
'real' job, moved to the city and the list goes on. And as we walk the
city, strangers will very often say how pretty and clean and soft she
is. Ha! Because she likes to eat dead animals and wear horse manure as
perfume and I had nothing to do with how pretty she is...but I always
say thank you. It's never nice to embarrass her! ;-) Her eyebrows are
the most entertaining thing ever! She's from the dog shelter (just a
little plug about how great 'mutts' are). ;-)
Song 8- Spinning Conundrums
"All these feelings can't fit through the window, they're bouncing off the walls. They're multiplying thousand fold"
This is the result of something like 4 big conundrums going on in my
head. They're all mixed up (just like they are in my head). I guess "it's just too hard...today"
sums up how I was feeling about holding all these 'problems' that day.
It seems like "all these feelings" often can't fit through the window
and just keep bouncing around until they've multiplied into something
overwhelming. However, the sunbeams coming in through the window are
just being sunbeams checking things out (so is the rest of the world-
just doing it's thing). How can they go around being happy sunbeams
with all these bouncing feelings??
BEST WAY-ED PLANS
Song 7- Inspire myself by proclaiming my own answers!
"The best way to do is just to start, master the art of jumping in..."
This song is just me needing to move forward. Inspire myself just to
jump in and start...and be brave. It's funny that "whatever it takes,
to learn to swim" made it in because that was one of my childhood
fear-overcoming accomplishments. I didn't want to get my face wet (still not a huge fan of that actually) and
I think if my Mom hadn't said "get back in the pool" when I tried to
quit as a kid, I wouldn't know how to swim today. And recently, I took a
surfing lesson with my husband on a vacation. So, I'm still telling
myself "get back in the pool" when I'm afraid of water- but it's much
less scary every time I do. Maybe this song serves the same purpose for
someone else, just a silly motivation to do something you are afraid to
Song 6- Insomniac Spoken-Word
"they are not so big, but they walk with heavy feet and fancy themselves the point of it"
I write spoken word sometimes. It seems like it 'might turn into a
song', but so far a song is a song and poem is a poem, for me. But this
poem is something I wrote when I couldn't sleep for several days in a
row and I would lay in my bed but all the directions of my day would
never let me just relax.
SWEARING OFF SUNFLOWER SEEDS
Song 5 - Everyone needs a song about a bird...
"I've been swearing off sunflower seeds just to prove it's not love..."
I'm not sure exactly what this song is 'about' yet, in the sense that it relates to my current life. It is a song I wrote in the middle of the night-
when it is quiet but everyone is home. I love that feeling of being
home, awake very late, when everything is in the city is closed and most
people (and dogs) are sleeping. In some ways it is a song between the 2
birds on the cover of my newly acquired Jaymay album, Sea Green, See Blue.
It seems like a conversation they would be having. I think a couple
other things from my 'real' life and my friend's life (who has recently
moved on from a relationship...then the other bird decides the
opposite...been there, right?!?) have crept into the story. But,
overall, sometimes it just isn't love, or it just isn't the right kind
of 'feelin' it'....and one bird sees it first. It's better that way, although it never feels better at the time. I have certainly been on both sides...tough either way.
ORGANIZED BY COLOR AND SIZE...a love song
Song 4 - My first love song...that I like as a song...
"Piles of whatever you like, organized by color and size, if I could give you everything..."
My first love song...well, not my first attempt. When I wrote my very
first song ever, I tried to write a song for the bf I had at the time,
but I could never come up with anything, nothing at all came to mind.
Since then, for the guy I eventually married, my super-bff, I've written
three songs, "You're My Guy" a weird acoustic punk-attempt, "Man of My
Dreams" a song for our wedding that you had to know him to really get,
and one other one (what was the title??)...right after we first met that
I never could get to fit together quite right...it was too passionate
or something...not really an ideal love song. So, I think is the best love song I have so far!
It started when a guy (feels too strange to put his name here since I
didn't tell him and I had just met him...) at Open City in DC said that
my notebook reminded him of a picture that he loved...the story went
that it is the picture (the one with the huge wave...I think we can all
see it in our heads...) that was identified as 'him' on a 'what piece of art are you?'
website. He had it in several forms already, now he just wanted one to
hang above his bed. My husband gave me the journal as a gift,
recently, so all that spun around in my head to start this song. Weird
how songs exist between interactions and being quiet...are they
straddling those 2 universal planes somehow? There are a few lines I
don't like yet and they will probably eventually come to me and be
replaced...but for now, this is how it exists. Thanks for listening.
IF I WERE...a tiny magic fairy
Song 3 - Is this a remnant of the Lady Gaga Glee episode?
"I wanna shoot lightning from my fingernails..."
So, this is from an assignment I gave two of my 9-year-old guitar
students when they started a song with "If I were... a magic marker." I
said we'd all go home and write one- here's mine. Unlike "If I Were a
Boy" or "If I Were a Rich Guy", this song is a mash-up of a bunch of
stuff and not on the radio or in a musical. :-) These two students are
super-into Taylor Swift, so I couldn't resist referencing a pop song,
and I admittedly like the lyric "poker face." It's not deep or
insightful- possibly. Although perhaps I am coming clean about wanting a
super-power, that would be fun. And I also just had fun nerding-out
and adding flute and random percussion instruments and claps and such.
Keep it fun, right?
DON'T MAKE ME TAKE MY RINGS OFF
Song 2 - Why bother with the middle ground?
"I don't need butterflies to teach this little girl how to fly, I clinch my fists while I cry"
So, have a strong, often unyielding, sense of 'fairness' which leads to
social justice (a concept I'm totally proud to care about). As a
grown-up, we try to talk about things like 'equity' which broadens it
out to say, we need things to be fair, but fairness isn't everyone
getting the same thing....fairness is everyone getting what THEY need,
individually or in groups. And that makes the whole world happy. Fine,
I agree with that, but my middle school feelings of wanting things to
be FAIR, like I get one skittle, you get one skittle, still surface when
I feel like someone or even myself (since I am a someone too in this sense) is
getting ripped off. I'm tough, if I want it, I'll go for it....whether
the world chooses to be fair or not! (And you should too! Then we can
all leave our rings on!!)
PANIC TO CALMNESS- What if I can never write another song, ever, in my whole life??
Song 1: Frailty Lies
"Frailty lies in the things that I can see, about you without you telling me"
I stalled on the whole FAWM experience for almost 4 days, worrying about having just written a song in January. Maybe I had used up all my 'songwriting juice'
and I would never write a song again and then I would fail this whole
experience in front of the entire online community (I know, that sounds
somewhat ridiculous now that I say it here...as if everyone online was
staring at my fawm-profile wondering why I STILL
hadn't posted a song). Or maybe now that I've been working on a CD, I've forgotten how to just write
as well as I did last year. Or maybe everyone is listening and will really be judging the first song harder
than the others, like they say parents do their first kid. When I
panic like this, I have noticed the song that finally does present
itself is often a zen-song that I sing for days and sometimes years for
myself (and for others if they are in that same 'place'.). So, in true
fawm-fashion, I got my guitar out and searched for something that 'got
me' and here it is. What is it about?
Sometimes it takes
me a long time to 'get to know' a song- I mean, I know I wrote it
down...but that's kind of like I adopted my dog from a shelter and so I
chose her in some sense, but I still had to figure her out over some
time...like a gift, one that exists with
me but I can't really
'master' it and make it do my bidding...not if I really want the song to
"live" and run and play and chase its own tail (ok- maybe not the best
analogy). So, overall, I think it's about feeling connected to everyone and everything and all things and nothing
, especially when things are silent...