“Don’t Judge the Past by the Present” and Other Advice for Writers

“Don’t judge the past by the present.” – The wisest thing my mother ever said.

Today there’s a lot of judging about the past in the media. As I mentioned in my previous post Writing for Today’s Reader, there is also a lot of rewriting of history in today’s movies, TV shows, and plays.

The thing is, if you haven’t lived it, you might not know the true meaning of it. So often I see this on “The Voice.” The younger singers, even if they’re not that young, weren’t around when the song was first around and so they don’t get the nuances or know how to fully emote. Their technical skills are incredible. But the song falls flat because they don’t know how to convey the emotional meaning of the song.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. And one of the books is Dawn Eden’s The Thrill of the Chaste. We’re both Catholic converts and I’ve enjoyed two of her other books (My Peace I Give You and Remembering God’s Mercy). In “Chaste,” she mentions the song “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles. She says this:

“She’s not looking for affirmation so much as absolution. All her man has to do is say he loves her–then a night of sin is transformed into a thing of beauty.”

“If the Shirelles tune were to be written today, the singer would likely have to lower the bar down to “Will You Respect Me Tomorrow?”–if even that.

Dawn is a talented writer but how did she miss the meaning? Perhaps because she wasn’t around when the song was first around. All she knew were the facts of who wrote it, who recorded it, when it was released, etc. But having lived through that time, even though I was just a kid, I knew–we all knew--that the real meaning behind the question of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” was really “Will You Respect Me Tomorrow?”

I don’t know how old “John from Nashville” on Songfacts is, but he got it right when he said, “This song is a clever way of saying ‘Will you respect me in the morning if I go home with you tonight?’ ”

My advice to writers? Talk to people who actually lived it, if at all possible. Instead of quoting tweets, for example, dig deeper to find the real meaning and the work will stand out.

The Truth Is: 50/90 Song #55

I haven’t been able to stop writing songs for 50/90–it’s such an awesome motivator, especially with feedback from this community of fellow musicians/songwriters.

One of the features is that you can indicate your favorite songs so when somebody stops by, they might want to listen to those. The problem is, my favorite song seems to be the one I’m working on – lol!

So, song #55, my latest song at this moment (55 out of 60), is my favorite. With this one, I was experimenting with the CLA vocal plugin, recommended to me by a fellow producer. I start with shadowing vocal samples from Audentity Records and then take the lead with my lyrics using the “Moody” preset of the CLA plugin.

Take a listen here:

It All Started with Earthquake Ethel’s…

Playing around with some different WordPress themes to change it up, I also added “Earthquake Ethel’s Roadhouse” as my header, well, for now. You may be wondering what the heck is Earthquake Ethel’s. That’s really where EDM started for me when I discovered Disco at Earthquake Ethel’s.

The moment I walked through the door and heard that Bass and that Kick Drum, I knew I was home. I’ve written scenes about that time in at least one of my novels, but Raining Men comes to mind.

The truth is, I was late to EDM as most people think of it, the EDM of the 90s and 2000s. I only discovered it when I was taking songwriting and music production classes, searching for a genre I was especially interested in or had a knack for. I tried piano-forward genres, guitar-forward genres, but once I realized it was all about the drums for me (my father said “All my kids play the drums” after I met him), I knew EDM was my genre.

But looking back I see that it all started with Earthquake Ethel’s. And that header reminds me of that, helps keep me on track. Because as much as I’ve enjoyed writing novels, there was a time and place for that. It was therapy for me back then. Now, my therapy is music. Okay, so maybe writing is also therapy. 🙂

50 Songs in 55 Days (#50/90)

It’s September 1st – yay! And I completed 50/90 a few days ago, a whole month early, writing 50 songs in only 55 days!

I’m so exhausted and completely dry creatively. But I will cull through some of these songs in the future, curating a DJ playlist or two.

But maybe I should post one of my favorites now. This one is called “Latin Heat.”

“I Need to Know” – from #Lyric #Poem to #50/90 Song

Based on the poem I wrote called “Mystery of My Heart,” it is now a song I created for 50/90 called “I Need to Know.”

Goodbye July or “What I Did While Trying to Make Disneyland Dining Reservations”

This is the story of how I wrote yesterday’s poem and turned it into a song early this morning while trying to make Disneyland dining reservations.

The night before last I was awake during the night looking at the calendar on my iPhone trying to make Disneyland dining reservations (which is such a crapshoot these days), realizing I couldn’t make September ressies for at least one more day, if I was lucky. Staring at the month of July, I was thinking about how July may be my least favorite month – certainly living in the hotter states I’ve lived in like Southern Nevada and Central Florida. Will July ever end?

I then jotted down those lyrics.

Last night I was awake during the night doing the same staring at the calendar thing, trying again to snag Disneyland dining reservations, and I thought, “I must write the music for those lyrics.” I did snag some ressies, so then I got up at around 4 am and recorded this song, trying not to sing too loudly so I wouldn’t awaken my husband and cats – lol!

It was a lot of fun and came out better than I thought it would. Hope you enjoy!

First Song for 50/90 2021 #lyrics #music #producer #LogicProX

A Lifetime

Lyrics*

A lifetime is a long time to never have known you
Decisions were made without your consent
Birthdays and Christmas and favorite Sunday dinners
Counting the measures never ending torment

Photos displayed on a beachy white dresser
The cross prays for family unknown to the pastors
Strumming the coasts in search of heart’s answers
Mothers in hiding and cruel puppet masters

The child pays the price for adults who are wounded
The cycle must end in choices not taken
Letting go of love for what can never happen
Walking day to day with a soul deeply shaken

(Repeat)

*Inspired by the #lyric #poem I wrote here.

How Silicon Valley Prepared Me for Book and Music Production

Reading It’s All About Him, written by Alan Jackson’s wife, Denise, I’m thinking how when I heard “Here in the Real World,” back in 1992, working in book production at a Silicon Valley high-tech firm, I thought he’d really made it. But when the song came out in 1990, he was far from making it at all. Living in a tiny basement apartment in Nashville with a pregnant wife, “Here in the Real World” was the second song his label had released and it was unclear whether they would keep him or drop him.

I started thinking about how successful I felt in Silicon Valley when I moved into technical writing, earning writing and publishing awards from the “Society of Technical Publications.” I sometimes say I got my PhD in that world, and, for the most part, it was a really awesome fit for me: the companies I worked for, the people I worked with (eventually marrying one of my co-workers), and the opportunities it brought me.

I would later grow wearing of that stressful, high-pressure day-to-day life, Las Vegas became my relaxing getaway, wondering what it would be like to be a cocktail waitress – lol! Eventually, my heart would start leading me to more creative pursuits.

I began writing fiction, starting with short stories as part of the well-known  “The Writer’s Loft” program in Chicago. I moved into fiction and by the time I wrote my third novel, Real Women Wear Red, at the height of the Chick Lit boom, I got an agent, and was offered a publishing contract.

Long story short, when the Indie author movement started going strong, I was able to use my book production skills to publish as an Indie author. I’ve done better as an Indie than I did when I was with publishers, certainly, the smaller publishers.

But then that market became oversaturated and I kept dreaming of my first love, music. In my youth, I didn’t pursue music as an artist because I knew you had to be spectacular to make it and while I’d sung a bit here and there, I wasn’t spectacular by a long shot. And I didn’t know of any other music path, at least not one I was interested in.

Fast forward to today with the ability to produce your own music in your own studio. Now I see that those same book production skills (with a propensity toward software) I learned in Silicon Valley help me now with continuing to learn new music production skills.

Push2 is the latest instrument I’m learning and with that and my Novation Launchkey keyboard, I’m hoping to advance more in more in creating my own melodies, instead of relying on loops and samples. Recently, a collab partner from FAWM told me he wants to release one of our songs commercially, but the melody was not copyright free so we could not use it. Between his piano skills and my production skills, I think we’ve come up with something we can use instead.

I have no idea where music will take me, even if it’s just the thrill of making it for myself, but I’m excited when I think about how far I’ve come from Silicon Valley production editor to producing my own music.