Writing songs this month has been awesome. It has been freeing to put my thoughts and words into a tune. I’ve needed to share some of these thoughts for a very long time and they have been leaping out into existence in unexpectedly lovely ways. I have a few snarky songs, a metaphysical song, some poetry, and a perky one I’m working on for Breast Cancer Awareness month. That one is going to be fun, hee hee!
However, I’ve been avoiding the classic, much done and much revered love song. Yep, I’ll admit it. Avoiding.
If you asked me a year ago why I’ve never written a love song, I would have said that the abundance of romantic love songs that exist as compared to other songs has raises my hackles. I would say, Yes, romantic love is a huge part of the human experience, but really, aren’t there enough of them out there? I would say, There need to be more songs about food, or nature, or taking a long hike. There need to be more songs about telling someone to take a hike. I would say there needs to be more artists sharing goltrai, geantrai and suantrai, the Celtic tradition of a bardic performance – songs to make you laugh, songs to make you cry, and songs to make you fall asleep. Bring ’em back, I’d say. (I still say that.)
I would say, there need to be more great artists like Weird Al Yankovic and Spike Jones who were able to make a musical career out of basically NO romantic love songs at all. Those guys are/were GENIUSES!
Love songs? Piffle!
But, since last year, I have been doing some major work on being authentic and telling my insecurities to go jump in a lake.
The truth is, while it is true that I love every sort of song, I am a die hard romantic. I am someone who is a sucker for the schmaltz. I cry ALL the time at movies, even movies where I already know my emotions are being manipulated (any Disney film). I love Shakesperean comic romance and awkward nerdmance. I love big sweeping Austenesque stories or a Nicholas Sparks novel. I love horribly depressing Celtic slow airs and coquettish Italian art songs. I love Leonard Cohen, The Smiths and Edith Piaf.
Come on! It would be foolish of me not to write love songs because it would be refusing to share a big part of who I am.
I realized the other day that part of the reason I was avoiding writing love songs wasn’t so much because I don’t want to write them, its just that I am realizing that often writing them will be rather painful. Or a pain in the patoot. Likely both.
I think that to actually be able to access the spirit necessary to write a great romantic love song, there must be some drama to write about. However, it is a challenge to draw on those memories because the dramatic times in our lives are often fraught with feelings of being overwhelmed. Its tough to recall a big baffle of images all tumbled together in a pile of egads. It is the landing, the end of the turmoil, that is easier to remember as things don’t happen so quickly and painfully.
Also, that stuff is so personal and it feels weird to share it openly.
I think therein lies the gift of an genuine love song. The song writer is unearthing some mighty touchy stuff to come to light with a whole heap of strangers. But aren’t you glad that that artist wrote that song for you to sing along to in the car, to help you emote when you are tired, or to remind you of a good memory? I am!
Here is one of my favorites these days, The Book of Love by the Magnetic Fields:
So, here’s to taking writing genuine love songs for a spin.
It might be a train wreck a few times but I know it will be worth it.