A couple of months ago, I took a songwriting class through Story Summit, a group, which I stumbled upon on Facebook last December. I have grown to love these folks who offer both free and “paid” workshops. I took the screenplay writing one in December about writing a Christmas Hallmark movie. Yes, I know, that was insane, but I really wanted to know how it was done and why so many people — like me even — love to watch those movies.
Anyway, I decided to take a songwriting class because I”ve always wanted to write songs. Heck I play and sing songs, but I don’t ever write them. I was still in the midst of my 100 Days of Ukulele Project at the time where I posted a song which I played on ukulele and sang on Facebook every day for 100 Days. I actually made it through which for me is a big deal because I have trouble “finishing” things, like ahem…writing projects! I learned so much through posting the songs, like sometimes you have to practice what you post but other times they just come to you. Sound familiar? It’s a lot like writing, but you have to stay committed no matter what even on days you don’t want to. After I finished this project last month, I decided I’d apply what I learned from 100 Days of Ukulele to my writing as well, determined to write every day no matter what. Of course, Creative Caffeine Daily helps a lot.
I also decided I want to learn to write songs. I’ve changed lyrics to songs and written parodies, but all familiar songs which I know. I’m not really a lyricist or a poet. I consider myself more of a storyteller. It was such an awesome class, and I felt humbled by some of the talent in that group. Putting music and writing together is a dream come true for me at all times. They put us all into groups of three. My partners both live on the east coast, and one was a young guy named Matt Hansson in his mid-30’s who is a practicing attorney and turned out to be an AWESOME lyricist. He could come up with lyrics so quickly and easily. My other partner was Lorraine Bates who also thought of lyrics, and just knew a little about music. One person or all three would have to perform our song at the end of the week. Since I was the only one in our little group who played a musical instrument and sang, I was designated as the person to perform our song. My idea was to write a song about walking in the woods, but it was Matt who had this idea of writing a woman who had an unhelpful husband and she always had to come home to do all the work. Boy did that story sound familiar. When he presented us with lyrics, I’m like, that is almost my story. Just change a couple of things. He was delighted to hear this, and so was Lorraine because we could make the song even better. We ditched the woods and went for the story of that poor, frazzled Mom. I said we gotta dump the husband because, in my world, there was no husband, no dad. And the teenagers are a bit wild, so of course, she doesn’t want to come home to that. They’re taking care of her young daughter.
We met outside class via Zoom and had so much fun writing the song. I literally came up with the music using the 12-bar blues riff, and I was super proud of myself because though I know so much about music, I had never created my own tune before. We finally put the final touches on the lyrics. I performed it, but with no fancy stuff, just me and ukulele and a cool lighted background that looked psychedelic, and me wearing my traditional tie-dye:
On the final night, all the songs were shared. There were like popular songwriters in the group. I have to admit that might was the LEAST professional of them all. Some reminded me of videos you’d see on TV with fancy software and stock photos. I refuse to utilize stock photos, only my photos. But most people dug our video (I say ours because I couldn’t have done without Matt and Lorraine). Guess it’s fitting that my first written song would be about a part of my crazy and frazzled life… a story.