Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I Write Songs, Too--My Most Memorable Words of All

Okay, I've always felt funny calling myself a songwriter since my songs have never been published, except for two, "If Everyone Lived Like the Tree," which appeared as a poem in my second book, Writing Success Through Poetry, without any sheet music or link to a recording. The other song appears in my ebook, The Secret in the Wood, as sheet music for kid readers to play, to enhance the reader's experience of sharing the protagonist's emotions. I've performed "If Everyone Lived Like the Tree" at various assemblies, and have posted a recent video of such a performance on my Facebook Author Page. My daughter Lainey, a singer and actress, recorded the song from my book, "Dance of the Trees," with an accompanist on piano (Chase Pado), and it appears on my website as an audio file. But other than those songs, the only ones I've shared publicly have been within my religious community--spiritual songs, mainly--and tribute ballads at funerals. See why I've hesitated to call myself a songwriter?

Anyway, I've decided to start recording and adding my songs to my previously private Soundcloud page--even if they're mostly a cappella, rough versions--to force myself to take more seriously this gift that I've been given. I don't mean to sound arrogant when I say "gift"; on the contrary, I mean to sound humble, since the way my songs come to me is not something I consciously work at or even feel I can take credit for, as it really feels as though I'm channeling them from some distant muse. To clarify, I'm not calling myself a psychic, but my songwriting process is this: I'm hit by a tsunami of emotion, either painful or joyful or insightful, and suddenly I hear music playing in my head, and I jot down words as they flow out of my mouth along with the tune I'm hearing. Many of my songs have flown along with tears, rolling out of me as they drip onto the page, in many cases. Others have flown from me while traveling, either by car, train, or plane--there's something about traveling that sparks songwriting for me, along with grateful feelings and/or epiphanies about my small part in the vastness of this world. And some songs have grown out of pondering the emotions of others, via books I've read or movies I've seen, or even other songs that have moved me profoundly. Some I've adapted to fit my current novels-in-progress, hoping to use them to enhance my marketing efforts once those books are published.



I'd like to say that all of my writing comes to me as my songs do, but that's not true. I'm consciously thinking about these words, for instance, as I write them. I ponder, write, backspace, delete, add--just as I do when writing fiction. Even my poems don't always flow magically, but require reworking as I go. But my songs, they come from some other place in my creative spirit. I am now taking the risk of inviting you, my readers, into that place, by sharing some of my rough, mostly unaccompanied, vocal recordings. I have dozens of songs not yet uploaded to Soundcloud, still jotted on papers in my files and on cassette tapes, from years ago, and I will continue to add them to my Soundcloud page, because, well, it's time.

If you like my songs, you can leave comments here or on the Soundcloud page, and maybe your words will inspire me to get some of these professionally recorded. By the way, it costs you nothing to join Soundcloud, and it will open your ears to many new, undiscovered musicians. While you're on my page, check out my son's songs posted there, by Ian Lipson and/or Wistappear, his band.)

I will exhale loudly as I hit "Publish" for this post and declare myself a songwriter, even if only an amateur one.