One of my band mates (Dan) in the Creekdogs recently returned from a visit to his daughter, who attends college out of state. While there, they checked out what I gather was an open mic night at the campus coffeehouse. He was quite impressed with one particular performer, who told the crowd she made herself write a song every day for seven days no matter how busy she was or how large the task. She admitted that this method only produced one usable song; but by my friend Dan's account, it was a good one.
It's not all that uncommon for us in the Creekdogs to tear off beautiful instrumentals in practice, agreeing that a given jam was good enough to add lyrics. Easier said then done - we've yet to add any words to some of the lovely instrumentals we have kicking around. Knowing that Dan has a pocketful of great music at any given moment, I decided to try to take the "seven day challenge" and write words everyday for a week to send to Dan and Kevin to put music to.
Starting from zero was really, really hard. It would've been difficult enough to try to distill a particular sentiment/story into song lyrics; but truthfully, I didn't have a particular sentiment or story I wanted to convey. For whatever reason, I found myself trying to write like Tom Waits. This is kinda funny as I'm at best a casual Tom Waits fan. I have profound respect for him as a songwriter and musician; yet I've never felt compelled to get very deep into his catalog. I guess the thing I admire the most about Tom Waits' writing is its attention to detail. A few carefully selected, "small" details vividly portray a given thought/sentiment much better (and a lot more artfully) than just coming right out and saying what's on your mind.
In a week's time, my song lyrics swung wildly from fictitious, third person story telling to personal and sappy as hell. I tried very hard to remove the inner critic and just get something sent out each night - a process that is trying when some inner voice keeps wondering what Paul Simon, Tom Waits, or Pete Townshend might think of a particular song.
But ultimately, I prevailed. The experiment yielded six songs in seven nights. I can't say any of them are great or even good. But I found the sustained focus and hard work to be quite rewarding. It remains to be seen if we'll be able to get anything usable out of this batch of tunes - if so, you can expect a follow up post, possibly with audio. I will say that at the last band practice - this was day two in the process - Dan had taken my lyrics from day one and put them to music. Bear in mind I thought the lyrics were terrible and unusable. But after hearing what Dan did to them - I literally almost cried. It is truly thrilling to hear words I came up with put to music. It was beautiful and honestly, I was using the wrong standard for the words: reading them there on a page almost as one would read a poem is a world apart from hearing them sung. I'm hopeful that something cool will come of this. But if not, I am creatively better for the effort.