Songwriting, The Song Well, Tunesday

Tunesday: Sept. 22nd: Chocolate Chip of Forgiveness

Every Tunesday I post a boldly imperfect, one-take song draft of a song. This one written way back on February 13th and has the immortal lines: I want the Chocolate Chip of more Forgiveness/ I want the whip cream of less shame. . .

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All these tales are dogging me
Smoke in a cheap motel
All the stares are stacking up
stories to a tower bell
The garbled voice of static fear
A haunted telephone line
All these wake ups calling me
Telling me it’s time . . .

These laurels left upon my door
commemorate the dead
These lush bouquets of sympathy
for resentments in my head
Sheepish mundane fantasies
flowing through a tiny valve
bread crumbs on a jagged trail
I’ve been on since I was twelve

I want chocolate chip of more forgiveness
the whip cream of less shame
The open valve of a little hope
the flow of angel cake
To Thaw this Ice box of resentments
This store of frozen beefs
Move out of the cheapest room
With it’s nasty old inn keep

Imperfection, Self-Care

Following the Cat’s Lead

Our cat has settled in in his box and is ready to turn in for the night. Every once in a while, it’s good to follow the cat’s lead and rest. Today is a resting blog. You could choose rest too. What is a way you might let yourself off the hook today?

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Music Theory, Songwriting, The Muse, Writing

Saturday Songwriting: A Red Reflector

The worksheet I included this week is maybe little music nerdy, but I hope it’s clear and useful. (If you have questions about anything in it, as always let me know so I can improve it!)

One of the things lots of songwriters who compose use the guitar can struggle with is creating melodies which are independent of the chords they are playing. Starting with a melody, it can be hard to know what chords you can play over it, and vice versa. One of the points of this sheet (and the one I put together two weeks ago) is to give songwriting guitarists and entry point into writing melodies independent of chords. 

That’s where I’m aiming on taking this at least.  

The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Arina Gordienko’s Eyes Wide Shut – 2

The Musical Idea:

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Fearless Challenge, Somatics

Abandoned Tunnel

A few years ago I found out about an abandoned train tunnel in Clinton, Massachusetts. I read it’s filled with graffiti, and reputably haunted. Obviously, I wanted to go. I forgot and remembered it at least three times, but today I made the road trip out there. 

My wife came with me.  It was an hour drive out listening to Sarah Jarosz and Chris Thile. When she got out of the car and hiked to the tunnel entrance balked.  

I walked in the first twenty or thirty feet. It was a bit like entering a damp, dark cathedral. The temperature dropped 15 degrees as I walked out of the reach of the sun. I called out to her. My voice rippled and buzzed strangely along the walls. I walked back out.  “You go can, I’m going to wait in the car;” she told me.  

I was on my own. Just me, and gaping abyss of about 1000 feet. I could see the light on the other side.

My footsteps crunched. Water dripped. My body was not happy. The tunnel wasn’t that long. There wasn’t anyone else there I could see. All I had to do was put one foot in front of the other and walk. I constantly wanted to turn to see what had crept up behind me in the dark.   

Obviously, I started to relate my uncertainty walking through the cave to the uncertainty of the creative process, if only to give myself something familiar to focus on. 

At the far end of the tunnel I met two frogs and the long since grown over hollow that had once been blasted out to make was for a trains also long since passed. It was beautiful. I snapped a picture with my phone.

As I made my way back I found myself thinking of Orpheus’s return to the surface from Hades. How would anyone not look back to see what was following them, or to see if their lover was still behind them in darkness like that? Looking behind me was the only thing my body wanted to do.  

Yet it had always seemed like a reasonable challenge to set man to before I walked through that darkness.  

My wife was sitting in the car when we got back.  “How was it;” she asked.  “Really cool!”  Late over a coffee stout, I showed her the picture I took from the other side. The sun was starting to set on behind us. It was the first meal we hadn’t eaten in our kitchen since March. A different darkness and a different uncertain tunnel that we’d made it through together.    

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Imperfection, Inherent Self-Worth

Fixed Gears

About ten years ago, I bought a used bike. The bike I owned was stolen out of my apartment’s foyer when my landlord left the door open. I didn’t want to invest in another new bike, so I bought one used bike.   

Because the old one had been stolen out of our foyer, I locked the new one in the closest convenient place. Outside. On a “No Parking” sign. Summer turned to fall. Fall turned to winter. At some point the bike was left out on the pole in the snow. 

In time, it’s gears locked up and they could be switched in only one direction. After a while of course, the bike ran out of options in that direction.  

I took it in to the bike shop to be looked at. The bike mechanic’s prognosis was he couldn’t fix the gears but he could turn into a fixed gear bike if I liked. I wasn’t super happy about it, but I was still feeling crunched for cash. I could have no bike or a bike with one working gear. I went for the fixed gear. That’s when I discovered that there’s a kind of ease with having one fixed option.   

I thought of all this today as I listened to Tim Ferriss talk to Debbie Millman about her experience working with habitual patterns in her life. That after thirty years of therapy, she said she would have thought perhaps she’d be done with some of the issues that come up for her. She also, how she wouldn’t really be who she is without those issues.   

She’s basically what she was saying was in certain aspects of her life her options are basically fixed. That’s when I found myself thinking about my old bike again and how there was a kind of freedom in knowing what I had and never having to shift gears.  

This is a simplistic metaphor, and our lives are complicated—still there’s something there that I think could be worth exploring further.     

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