More co-writing experiences

Songwriting with others:

During this past week I have not let any opportunity to co-write slip by. After work a colleague saw me tuning up my guitar and said to me

"I have an idea for a song for you."

I started to jot notes down as he talked to me about his life in NYC right now. I tried to get him to speak at least a full page of ideas straight out of his mouth without any editing as raw materiel to start with and to try to find a focus on a main theme, idea or starting point. I usually get some sort of lyrical hook and a melodic framework in and around the same time when I'm writing. This particular questionnaire method is a good way for me to write with others so far - I like to spill the guts and pick through the entrails for the pearls, gems and like the Roman priests get a sense of the future - beware the ideas of March!

He described his life as a Pendulum swinging back and forth as he tries to hold on to his life and also his frustration in general. After I landed on "to hell with it..." as the first line; I started to mess around on the guitar and got a rhythmic feel and chord movement going then fitted the line to a melody and worked lyrics/music through the chord changes.

We repeated process for each verse and he was surprised when I used an online rhyming dictionary and thesaurus. I grew up in a family home with a thesaurus, dictionaries and rhyming tools so it seems natural to me to use whatever tools I need to exactly say what I want to express.

To hell with it
on a clock that can't be stopped
Pendulum: dropping down & flying up
This is the rhythm of my life
... to survive

Holding on
circle round and go nowhere
sight's unclear
leaving everything that's dear
I want to stop and start to pray
...far away
© Lyrics/Music Author Copyright JM/SK

Each end verse has a refrain and a pause as the hook. There is no full chorus, lyrical bridge but a solo instrumental part is possible. I was time driven as I had to leave for a performance that evening so we completed five verses. SK was another good contributor to the process and paid full attention to meaning, rhyme structure and melody.

SK and I have talked together about writing 'the book' for the musical I am writing and I still feel he has a good visual comedic sense and witty observations.

I have continued to amend and work with CL by email on the previous week's songs to tweak them for meaning, time states and easy sing-ability - especially the Unemployment Blues. This one is real fast and I was concerned about the last 3 lines of verse one below.

The unemployment blues

I said I could do it better, I could do it all
Little did I know I was headed for a fall
I put in the trouble, I put in the sweat
I even sold my bed to see what I could get
Seven years in college to chase after my dream
Didn't want to end up with food stamps to redeem

I got the blues ...
I was laid off last week don't know what I will do
I'm gonna stand in line with the unemployment blues
I've got the blues ...

© Lyrics/Music Author Copyright JM/CL


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