Lyrics vs. Poems

When I submitted my first song for professional feedback, my mentor said the writing was very good but added that it was more poem than lyric. He gave me some suggestions on how to transition it into a song. I took his advice and Does Everybody Lie? became Everybody Lies.

So when I was writing “poems” during the wee hours of the morning trying to cope with our temporary housing, I noticed that they sometimes seemed more lyric than poem. I turned to my Berklee professor Pat Pattison for his words on the difference between a poem and a lyric. Here’s what he had to say on a Writer’s Digest article.

The middle-of-the-night poem/lyric writing was a valuable exercise because I began to think more like a poet/songwriter. I also think I may have now transitioned from novelist to songwriter – that’s certainly where my heart is. I’m also practicing the keys, working on my music production craft, thinking that perhaps 2018 is the year I go “all in” when it comes to music.



Novelist & Modern Musician Vs. Nashville

I’ve been struggling for some time about what to make my main priority – writing or music.

When we evacuated to Nashville during Hurricane Irma, I hadn’t been there since I started songwriting and joined Nashville Songwriter’s Association (NSAI) so I was very excited about it. May as well make the most out of a bad situation like a hurricane, right? Maybe I’d get super inspired with my music walking the streets of Nashville. Besides, I’d just submitted a song for feedback. How cool to know my song was somewhere on Music Row.

We had a great time catching up with the sights – beer and music on Broadway, writing song lyrics on napkins, cocktails and music at the Opryland Hotel. Woo hoo! It was such a blast!

Funny thing about returning home – I realized I was never going to write a song that would fit Nashville no matter how much NSAI insists they’re open to all genres of music. And then I got the feedback on my song that was far more Rock, far more Electronic Dance than Country.

I love all kinds of music. But I’m a modern girl – have always been, really. Grew up in SoCal with the latest fads, on the cutting edge of technology working in Silicon Valley for 23 years. And then when I finally decided to pay more attention to music, I enrolled in the Modern Musicianship certificate program at Berklee College of Music and earned several certificates. I’m self-produced. I may doink around with the piano and guitar but my real instrument is my Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and I absolutely love it!

That is so not Nashville and they let you know it. I may have a lot to learn musically, but Nashville is not the one to teach me.

i thought the trip to Nashville would inspire me to make music my main focus. Instead, the James Patterson Master Class has inspired new passion for writing novels and I’m even excited about the outline.

And so, for now, I have my answer on what to focus on.



Can’t Stop the Music

While we’re living in temporary housing during the house building process, I made a deal with myself that I’d put music on hold and focus on writing my novel-in-progress. That music is too challenging for me right now and writing a novel is therapeutic.

The problem with that is I love music too much, and I find myself sneaking in a few sessions in the studio, playing with some lyrics, piano chords, or some loops on my DAW (digital audio workstation).

One of my music groups asked if we were holding ourselves back because of fear. They were talking about live performances. Of course, I said yes. I’m sticking to working on music in my studio. Not going to do anything live. Not at my age. Not good enough for that.

I don’t know if life is going to challenge me and put me in a position where I have to face that fear, but that plays nicely into the novel I’m working on.

So here, once again, one art feeds the other. As they say in theological circles, it’s not either/or. It’s both/and.


Time to Retreat

This has been a hellish day and I was already feeling under the weather before I got the email that blindsided me. It reminded me of all that I disliked about publishing and why I walked away from it to pursue music.

So when I gathered the troops by listening to “Stronger,” I was longing to write a song, sing, record, mix, and produce music again. It’s something I can do in my studio that brings immense joy with just me, myself, and I. I mean, how can you look at the mixing board and not want to jump right in – lol! After all, my uncle is a bass player and sound engineer – it definitely runs in the family.

And that microphone – be still my heart. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do – practically everyone on my dad’s side of the family plays something. So off to the studio I go.

I’m working on learning this song on the piano, tuning my vocals, and coming up with my own mix. If I end up with anything halfway presentable, I’ll post it.

I also think I need a break from sharing while we’re in the middle of so much.

If you see a privacy sign on this blog, don’t panic – I just need to close the doors for a bit.

White Room, Laith Al-Saadi, Voice Finale

My top choices on The Voice changed over the the last few weeks. At first, Alison was my #1 pick and then she dropped below my top two choices: Adam Wakefield and Laith Al-Saadi.

But after Laith opened up the finale with his version of White Room – WOW! He moved to #1. In fact, all of his performances last night were stellar. I downloaded his song on iTunes because not only was his performance amazing, but he brought me back to my youth and the original version of the song by Cream.

Reading the lyrics, I was reminded that it’s really a poem written by Pete Brown, a performance poet.

The first song I submitted for professional feedback had started off as a poem and the mentor praised the writing but then asked, “Do you know the difference between a poem and a song?”

There was a time when it didn’t really matter. Songs were made from poems, as in the case of White Room. I should have started writing songs back when the world understood that.

I’m inspired to get back to writing poetry – my lyrics were stronger for starting off as poems. My paternal grandmother wrote poetry. My paternal grandfather sang and played the keyboard in a band (his father made instruments). Uncles, cousins, nephews, etc. – all musicians. Yes, I come from a musical family and it’s time to embrace that side of me totally.

“White Room”

In the white room with black curtains near the station.
Black-roof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings.
Silver horses run down moonbeams in your dark eyes.
Dawn-light smiles on you leaving, my contentment.

I’ll wait in this place where the sun never shines;
Wait in this place where the shadows run from themselves.

You said no strings could secure you at the station.
Platform ticket, restless diesels, goodbye windows.
I walked into such a sad time at the station.
As I walked out, felt my own need just beginning.

I’ll wait in the queue when the trains come back;
Lie with you where the shadows run from themselves.

At the party she was kindness in the hard crowd.
Consolation for the old wound now forgotten.
Yellow tigers crouched in jungles in her dark eyes.
She’s just dressing, goodbye windows, tired starlings.

I’ll sleep in this place with the lonely crowd;
Lie in the dark where the shadows run from themselves.

White Room (Eric Clapton on guitar)

Collaborator or Solo Troubadour

11119716_10155427023630014_6992338643873152945_n-640x383“I have travelled alone for most of my career. Out of financial necessity, and personal preference. It’s a suitable way to present my songs, and I’ve loved living the life of a solo troubadour. Driving from town to town with a guitar, a harmonica, bar stool, a bottle of water, and a spotlight. Selling CD’s from a little table after the show, meeting people, and talking to them as they walk up to the table. Wake up in a hotel, drive. Then do it again. It’s a good life, and I love it.

“But to play in combination with others, swapping songs, stories, jokes, sharing the stage with peers, equals, and other writers has brought me to a new appreciation of the art of stage and song. There’s no boss in these situations, no one has the final say. We all have the final say.

“Chemistry is important. This wouldn’t work with just anybody. Mutual respect is vital, as is trust. I’ve chosen the people I want to work with, and I’ve chosen well. The results have brought me great joy. We open the door for magic, for alchemy, for the mystical spark of the divine that makes the show bigger than the sum of the people present.

“I am in the business of creating magic. We are looking for communion with the Gods, reaching for that lift-off place where we all ride the waves of music into another world and become one with the song. The ego is at rest. It is an event of the soul, and very difficult to create on stage with other songwriters. When the other performer is so very good that the entire room is silenced and amazed, the result is sheer joy. As a listener I am in resonance with the singer next to me. Ah, such beauty, and so difficult to create and sustain.

“I experienced this resonance with David and Allison night after night, and with Gretchen when we wrote “How You Learn To Live Alone.” And when I watched Jonathan Jackson beautifully perform our song on the Nashville TV show, I thought “wow – the circle is complete.” – News & Musings from Mary Gauthier.

I totally get what she’s saying. I am more of a lone ranger. However, I fondly remember the heady days of singing in a school choir, the backstage camaraderie, sharing lemons for sore throats, the support of my fellow singers in rehearsals as well as performances, the warm-up of the band as your pulse races with shared excitement before the curtain rises.

But today, starting over as a modern musician, I’m more of a loner. I have my studio, my keyboard, my microphone, and my Logic Pro X (digital audio workstation). That seems to suit me for the most part, except for the desire to connect with other musicians.

Maybe someday I’ll get to collaborate with other musicians. Maybe if we move to a city that has a local NSAI chapter (Vegas no longer does). Or maybe when we move to Nashville. 🙂

Everybody Lies (#lyrics)

Everybody Lies
Words and Music by Kathy Holmes (copyright December 2014)

Available on CD Baby, iTunes, Spotify and other online distributors

You texted me at a quarter til five
You’d be out all night with the guys
I never thought someone like you
Would be caught in a secret rendezvous

Lie to me once, shame on you
Lie to me twice, shame on me
If you could lie, then it must be true
Everybody lies
Everybody lies

I stumbled to the bar, with nothing to lose
Sitting on the stool, singing the blues
I can explain, I heard you say
I tuned you out and walked away

Lie to me once, shame on you
Lie to me twice, shame on me
If you could lie, then it must be true
Everybody lies
Everybody lies

I lied to you when I said I love you
Hoping you’d be true
Who wouldn’t let me down
Who’d always be around
But I’m no better than you

Lying to myself, lying to you
If you can lie I can lie too
Everybody lies
Everybody lies

Everybody lies
Everybody lies