Just returned from a birthday trip to SoCal, so I’m a little behind with 50/90 (50 songs in 90 days), but thought I’d post my 5th and favorite song (so far). Check it out:
Woke up to another beautiful sunny day here in Las Vegas and that means waking up early this time of year. The dawn begins to break a little before 5 am and by 6, I can no longer stay in bed. I climb down the stairs from the third floor, stopping off on the second floor to grab a cup of coffee before continuing on to my first floor studio.
I log onto my Mac and continue with a Master Class on Electronic Dance Music, which I absolutely love and have loved since my Disco days. Playing around with sound triggers the knowledge I now have about my father and that side of a musical family – the family I did not know growing up. People did that more back then – when the couple split, that was the end of the father and “hello, step dad” who was now dad (sometimes you didn’t know he wasn’t your dad), and you used his last name.” Good-bye identity.
But that is old news. What strikes me today as I play around with sounds for an Electro Pop song is that knowing I have an “ear for music,” (told to me throughout my school years and later by my Las Vegas vocal coach, who happened to be starring in “Mamma Mia” on stage), was how lonely it was for me to have these gifts but not really understand them, unable to embrace my true identity because I was surrounded by strangers who were family. Strangers because my mother and half-siblings did not have these gifts, although to his credit, my step dad played the guitar. Ironically, he was the most supportive of my music. But my mother and siblings seemed to want to down play my musical gifts. Subtly, of course. 😮
So here I am, decades later, having met and discovered my family and my identity, pursuing my love for music, embracing all that I am. It’s a thrill, a triumph, but with a sense of loss and regret of the choices that others made for me. And why I’m such an advocate for children, whether adopted or conceived through sperm and egg donors or anything that has gotten in the way of children not knowing who they truly are. It’s an outrage!
Over ten years ago (closer to fifteen now), I wrote and published my story in Myths of the Fatherless, but I think it’s needed even more today.
In the Studio: Electro Pop song in progress
Story and Music by Kathy Holmes
I love making book trailers, using visuals and making my own music to give a peek into a story I also wrote. L.A. Nights is available as a standalone short story or as part of the Cougars in Cabo anthology. For more information, see SHORT STORIES under the BOOKS menu.
I wrote this song when we were living in Florida. We were having lunch at La Fiesta, the most Southern California Mexican restaurant in the New Smyrna Beach/Daytona area and I was soaking up the atmosphere, the Mexican music, and the “Mexican Margarita,” as they called it. It was my favorite, if not a bit strong.
A Native Californian, I was so homesick for the West Coast so I took a drink and said, “Tequila, Take Me Home.” That became a song.
So when Taxi A&R had a listing for “drinking songs,” I submitted it. Well, it was not forwarded. But after last night’s episode where they played many of the submissions and we got to vote +1 or -1 as to whether we thought it should be forwarded, I realized my mistake. It was not a “drinking song” in the real meaning of that. It was more of a homesick song – lol!
I have a couple of other drinking songs that would have been more appropriate but they need some work. But it might be good to do the work now because you never know when they might just have another call for that kind of song.
Another song I wrote for FAWM this year is now live on Spotify: I Want To, a bit experimental in electronica. Hope you like (add me to your playlist) and follow me.
(This is just an excerpt. To hear the entire song, log into your Spotify account to play it.)
I’m pretty sure I won’t really be doing NaNoWriMo – oh, sure, I’ll continue to write the tome I seem to be working on when the mood strikes, ie, a scene or emotion comes to me that I must write down. Maybe because these days music is my main focus. And that is quite a juggling act.
In Songwriting: Essential Guide to Lyric Form and Structure, published by Berklee Press, it says this about writing lyrics upfront, right in the introduction, the first page of the book:
You will have no trouble learning about lyric structure. It is simple, just like juggling. When a juggler keeps four balls in the air at once it may seem like magic, but there is no magic involved. The juggler learned by throwing one ball up and catching it, throwing and catching, stopping and starting the motion; always gaining greater control over the movement of the ball. Then came two balls, then three, throwing and catching, stopping and starting, with greater and greater control.
As a lyricist, you must learn to juggle four balls.
1. How many phrases does it have?
2. How long is each phrase?
3. What is the rhythm of each phrase?
4. How are rhymes arranged?
And that’s just the lyrics. Then there’s the music, and music production. Each piece requires great skill, learning the craft, and practice. And then they all must work together – prosody, that’s what it’s all about.
The Flame, Leonard Cohen’s last book of poetry (and more), arrives on Friday. I can’t wait to read it, especially after reading some of the poems in the sample. I got the hard cover because some books should be read in print.
I love that his songs started out as poems. My first song submitted for professional feedback to a NY Broadway composer started out as a poem and he led me down the path to making it a song.
In Nashville, “writing to title” co-write sessions are scheduled – they have nothing to do with poetry but the good news is everybody in the room gets songwriter credit. (Two NSAI mentors loved one of my “hooks” but somehow my story wasn’t the usual Nashville story and it didn’t go anywhere).
In Confessions of a Serial Songwriter by Shelly Peiken, she laments today’s songwriter in L.A. being relegated to “topliner” – the person who is called in to write the melody or lyric or maybe just a hook or phrase. The “producer” provides the “backing track” and gets 50% of writing credit and the rest is divvied up according to some sort of formula.
But you know what? This is what you get when a society decides that humans can be created the same way – sperm donor meets egg donor meets surrogate and somehow the couple who purchases all of this genetic material becomes the “parents” and a “family” is created.
I don’t see much difference in creating a human and in creating a song today. Very sad with many consequences with this type of thinking. But that’s the world people have shouted into being. At least for now. I pray that people will come to their senses some day.
I experienced my first FAWM (February Album Writing Month) this year and going in, I thought it would be like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – you post your words but nobody sees them). But for FAWM, the whole point is to write an album and get comments, collab, and connect with other musicians.
This has turned out to be so cool! Some people are still hanging around and posting more comments so I peek in now and then to see what some are saying about my music and to discover other people’s music.
The interesting thing to me is that the two songs I thought were just too far out there have been getting compared to David Bowie (and Laurie Anderson) so I guess I’m not too strange after all. 🙂
Take a listen for yourself – strictly work tapes:
Wise Woman (Wisest Woman I Would Ever Know)
I Missed the Train
We’re just about halfway through FAWM (February Album Writing Month – similar to NaNoWriMo for novelists), and I’m getting clarity on where I’d like to move forward in music and it comes as no surprise really. EDM. Electronic Dance Music or maybe just Electronic Music.
It’s a natural fit. I started my career in electronic publishing in San Francisco back in the day when that was the new shiny thing. I totally loved it. And it took me to Silicon Valley. Writing about technology. That led to writing novels. And now it seems I’ve come full circle with Electronic Music.
I earned a certificate in “Modern Musicianship,” including music production, which is so cool because I use my technology expertise and blend it with my love/gifts in music.
To kick this off, I’ve enrolled in a Synthesizer class and I can’t wait to get started!
One comment I got for one the songs I was experimenting with Synth I posted on FAWM:
It’s cool to see this type of songwriting with this production. I like how experimental the synths sound.
My first song, Everybody Lies, isn’t quite EDM but it shows signs of moving onto that path. So now I know what kind of music to work on for my first album.