You Never Looked at Me That Way (first original song)

This time last year I started working on my first (solo) song in songwriting class from Berklee prof Pat Pattison. Actually, it’s been less than a year because the class didn’t start until April.

One way to see how far you’ve come is to review some of your earlier work. Sharing my work on the journey is, well, all part of the journey.

The song was inspired by a scene from Nashville. Soon after Maddie discovered that Deacon was her father and not Teddy, she watched Teddy look at his daughter with such love and tenderness. She asked her mother, “Will Deacon ever look at me that way?”

The assignment was to write the lyrics for an unstable verse and a stable chorus, find a loop, record it, and upload it. I scored well on this assignment. One reviewer said, “I hope this didn’t happen to you.” It isn’t completely autobiographical but in songwriting, we call on our own experiences or emotions or observations when we write a song.

This song is told from the point of view of a daughter realizing the man she calls dad will never look at her the way he looks at his own daughter.

I’ve now written 5 complete songs, recorded and uploaded to Reverbnation and Soundcloud.

You Never Looked at Me That Way (Work Tape from Class)

Reviewing Songwriting Accomplishments for Q1

As March comes to a close, I figured it was time to review my accomplishments in the first quarter of 2015 and to set goals for the remainder of the year.

In the first quarter, I recorded, produced, and uploaded 3 of my 4 original songs to Reverbnation (the first one was finished at the end of 2014). Even though Candy Apple Red (Shoes), Does Everybody Lie, and Fishing Shack received positive feedback, I decided to stop trying to improve them. It’s time to let them go. It’s time to move on.

I remember making that decision for my first novel, Carmel Knowledge. There came point when the positive comments from agent rejections weren’t enough to keep working on the book. There’s a time to put the manuscript (or song) away and move on to the next one. I think it’s time to move onto something new. You must be very selective with what song you’re willing to spend demo money on.

I’ve heard that the first 100 songs are just practice anyway so you don’t want to get too bogged down trying to perfect them. The positive news is that I finished 4 whole songs – some songwriters never complete a song – they just move on to the next one before finishing the previous one.

Like starting a new manuscript, starting a new song is exciting. You can incorporate what you’ve learned from the previous work and hopefully create something better as you improve your craft. Not only that, but I want to focus on the types of songs I really get excited about.

Last night we were shopping in Fresh n Easy and I heard this amazing alternative blues type song and I thought, “Wow! That’s the kind of song I want to work on.” I just wish I knew what song that was.

As part of my NSAI membership, I get 12 song evaluations and I’ve yet to use one (I’ve been getting feedback through another professional group). So my goal for the end of 2015 is to submit at least one song to NSAI for evaluation.

And maybe, just maybe, at least in my wildest dreams, ‘ll find the nerve to do an open mic:

Kelly Clinton’s Open Mic Cabaret.

Musicians Bleed for Music


I received an email from Graham English, Logic Studio Training guru and author of Logic X for Dummies, and found 2 quotes worth quoting here:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

-Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011)

And from Graham English:

I talk to musicians all day.  I’m in the studio. I’m on the bandstand. I teach and coach musicians. And I’ve never met a musician who wasn’t a bit of a misfit.

It takes a bit of madness to give your heart and soul to music. It’s not normal. Most people would never think of sacrificing like musicians do.

That makes you and me different from the rest of the world. And I’ve never met a musician who wasn’t willing to bleed for music.

The Blues Make Me Happy

traingWhen I was about 15, I played “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” by Hank Williams over and over again – a bit unusual for a Southern California teenage girl back then. My mother said, “No wonder you’re depressed listening to that.” Actually, it was making me happy. The Blues make me happy.

For some people, especially musicians, songwriters, and singers, the only place you find solace is in music. I also heard that when you’re down, don’t start with happy music to feel happy. No, you start with where you are, start with the Blues, and then move on as your emotions lift.

I’ve been working on Candy Apple Red for too long – I need to finish the remix so I can submit it to NSAI for feedback by the end of this month. It’s fun but not that deep.

As Mary Gauthier teaches in her workshops, we need to dig deep for our best songs. She’s an amazing example of somebody who pours her heart and her story of being adopted and the path that led her down into her music. I have so much material there and I need to get to it.

Advocates in Heaven was a start and written in the style of Blood is Blood. I want to write my version of Another Train. A train, as I wrote in a previous post, is a useful metaphor in lyrics. Adventure, pain, hard times. “I’m moving on through the pain, waiting on another train. Whistle blows a lonesome cry.”

Mary performs “Another Train” at the Grand Ole Opry. Notice Marty Stuart on guitar.

Another Train