Saturday Songwriting: Life on Mars?

This afternoon I missed the bus that I was hoping to catch home. To kill some time I wandered over to Robbins Library until the next bus came by. I had Pat Pattison’s Writing Better Lyrics on my mind. I’ve been doing some teaching and it’s always good to get back to the source. It’s been a decade since I last read it?

There was a time when I met each Sunday with the Chaise Lounge Lovers, a cohort of songwriters. Each Sunday we started with an Object Write rereading Pat’s instructions for anyone who might be new to it:

Choose an object, (any physical object).

Write for 10 minutes.

Focus on taste, touch, smell, sound, the four senses we often overlook.

Pat writes; “Try spending a little time with each sense. How does the kitchen table smell? How would the rug feel if you rubbed your bare back on it? How big does the room sound? (What if it were twice as big? Half as big?) How would the table taste if you licked it? No, it’s not silly.”

These words cracked open the door of songwriting for me.

We met at 1:00 PM each Sunday, so Sunday morning became a hustle against the clock to write a new song. I did my writing at the Someday Café in Davis Square, Somerville. (This was after some procrastination reading the Sunday Globe).

One Sunday, my songwriting hero, Peter Mulvey emerged from recording an album in the Subway Station and wandered by my table at the Someday Café. (No really, he recorded an album in the subway).   Another, I woke up to a fanfare of car horns and an impromptu carnival of yellow, green and blue flags filling the streets of my Prospect Hill Neighborhood. Brazil had just won the World Cup. The bus had a hard time running that morning. I walked to Davis Square. 

This is when I first learned to show up on a deadline for songwriting. I told my guitar teacher one day I was planning to write three songs a day, in perpetuity. And I did it.


It would be a bit more time before I learned to temper my ambitions with a sense of self-kindness, (and reality). Anyway, its good to visit with a book that’s an old friend and to dive back into the waters in which I learned to swim.

This week I took a look at “Life on Mars?” by David Bowie, which features prominently in the trailer for Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie which releases in a month or so. Also, one of my Patrons suggested I take a look at a Bowie song.


The Prompt:

Here’s a link to Jocelyn Tsaih’s art. Find out more about Jocelyn’s work here.

The Musical Idea:

The video is a little choppier than I’d like this week, sorry

Here’s a downloadable pdf of the worksheet above:

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