A-Feared

 

 

So – today. Without going into details, let me just say I’ll be working with a group of women to facilitate a songwriting workshop for teenage girls. I think it will be awesome. And yet I have no idea what to expect.

 

But do y’all know I’m a-feared of teenage girls? Well I am. So much so that I’ve been having nightmares about kids trying to kill me. For reals.

 

But those are just dreams. As for today, I’m trying to remember that I won’t be alone. That I’ll have a bevy of other chicks on the same team. And that the purpose of this workshop is to have fun. I’m also trying to remember to breathe – deeply. This workshop isn’t something I have to do. It’s something I get to do. Hopefully a little perspective will go a long way.

The Bushwick Book Club of Santa Barbara County

 

 

Late last year, a wonderful friend contacted me and asked if I’d like to take part in her book club’s project: read John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and write a song or two inspired by the book. My first thought was – I haven’t read East of Eden. Next, I thought about how – for a variety of reasons – I hadn’t performed in front of real people for quite a while. I ruminated and I ruminated and finally I sat down to respond to my friend’s query…

 

“…The truth is I like your idea / challenge, and the fact that it makes me uncomfortable to think about it

seems like a good reason to sign up.

Maybe. So yes. Put me down as part of The Mission.

I think. Yes. Yes. I’m in.

Am I?…”

 

And with a hit of the send button, I committed.

 

 

At first, as I read I flagged the bo0k with post-its, thinking I’d come back to an inspiring word/phrase/section and attempt to compose a song at a later time. But after a while, I remembered that when the bug hits, that’s the time to scratch it. So I allowed myself to be in the moment and wrote when the light-bulb flashed.

 

Once I’d written the song, I knew I needed to practice. Like I said, I hadn’t performed for quite a while and I didn’t want that to hold me back in my delivery. So I began working to memorize my song (thank you, Franz Liszt for forcing us all to do that) and to tweak my presentation. I knew this wasn’t a grand showcase or anything, but preparation is key. And I wanted to do well. For my friend and for myself. I suppose I also wanted to do well for “Charles” – the character that inspired my song. (It never occurred to me to want to do well for Mr. Steinbeck. Oops.)

 

 

So last week I drove myself to Santa Barbara to get my Steinbeck on, along with several other songwriters. The event was held at The Guitar Bar in downtown Santa Barbara and that joint is gi-gorgeous. Seriously. A few folks referred to it as “guitar porn” and I agreed. The shop’s owner, Jamie, was such an amiable guy and his generosity in allowing the Bushwick Book Club to stage its meetings there is fairly grand. His place is comfortable and welcoming. I strongly encourage music lovers and players to stop in his store, next time you’re in Santa Barbara.

 

 

Anyhoo, back to the show. It was truly fascinating to hear how other folks were affected by the book. Some were drawn to the same language. Some were drawn to the same characters or plot lines. And as songwriters, no two of us were the same. My brilliant friend, Kate Graves, performed a lovely song that was as sweet as it was heartbreaking…

 

 

I hadn’t seen Tom Prasada Rao for a few years and it was good to catch up with him. He was inspired to write 2 songs and I loved them both. But that first one – wow. I told him I want need a recording of it and I wasn’t lying…

 

 

When my spot in the line-up rolled around, I took the stage and va-va-voomed my way through my tune…

 

 

And then it was over. The good people attending the meeting made their way out of The Guitar Bar toward home and we musicians packed up our gear. Jamie and his crew began putting the shop back in order and good-byes were made. I hit the road for my drive back to Los Angeles and left Santa Barbara in the rearview.

 

 

When I think of how easy it would have been to simply not respond to my friend’s invitation to participate, I have to shake my head. Saying Yes to something that made me uncomfortable was a good idea. And I’m glad I did it. Giving my word and agreeing to perform were very real commitments to me. Putting in the time and rehearsing were also commitments. I was forced (by myself) to actually show the hell up. And I did.

 

I’d like to embrace this year with that attitude of Yes that got me through the first presentation of The Bushwick Book Club of Santa Barbara County. I’d like to have a little more faith in myself. I’d like to grab hold of opportunities to see the people I adore most in this world (I’m talking about you, Kate Graves). I’d like to own being Me.

 

 

Here’s to grasping our lives. Here’s to facing fears. Here’s to You and Me.

D-Squared T-Squared – Week 30 (Catching Up)

 

 

 

If my calculations are right (and the abacus never lies), this missive catches me up on my D2T2 posts! Yippee!

 

Week 30′s project was a little old song. Mister and I took care of churning the right-brain wheels and ended up with a ditty in the process. It was fun and good for us to work together positively. Which we did. Like other D2T2 song projects, this one isn’t currently available to share, so you’ll just have to take my word on it.

 

 

D-Squared T-Squared – Week 20

 

 

This past week’s creative endeavor was a song. I hate to not sound like a broken record, but I don’t have anything for you to actually hear on this front.

 

Anyhoo, here in my little world, schedules have undergone changes. And while that’s a good thing, it is still change. Change is, well, change. Like a lot of folks, I require effort when it comes to adjusting to change. Knowing this and fully acknowledging it became the inspiration for the song Mister and I wrote.

 

Once the song was good enough to call “done,” Mister and I filed it away. I can only speak for myself, but the exercise seemed to have been a good one. And while some tweaking could certainly take place, the kernel of the song is solid. All in all, it was a good week’s effort.

 

I can’t believe it, but we’re sticking with the project. So far…

“I Don’t Wanna Have To Use It”

This month’s free mP3 download from Love & Honesty is “I Don’t Wanna Have to Use It.”

 

 

I’m not sure I wanna tell you about writing this song. I’m torn. I really am.

 

I don’t mind sharing that I wrote most of it while driving. And I don’t mind telling you I was on my way to my old volunteer post at the hospital (where I would sing and play for patients). I also don’t mind letting you know that as soon as I got to the hospital, I sat right down with my guitar and wrote out the chords and lyrics. It was fast. Most of the work had taken place in the car.

 

But telling you what it’s about? I’m hesitant.

 

There’s no mystery to songwriting. You just do it. Some days find a gal writing without even meaning to, like when driving. Other times it’s work. A song can be born all at once, or it can come into being slowly, deliberately. Some songs take years. Getting to write a song is a gift, and I’m grateful for any and all inspiration I get. But it isn’t magic, folks.

 

Then again, as I’m thinking about the magic of December, maybe I can see some pixie dust being sprinkled about during the process of writing. Maybe just agreeing to hold the danged pen (or put fingers to keypad) and working out the tune is a little on the magical side. It certainly is lovely to think so.

 

So if I tell you how “I Don’t Wanna Have To Use It” came into existence, will the magic melt into ordinariness? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, here goes…

 

I don’t love my cell phone. I don’t go through my days with the danged thang attached to my ear, and I don’t jump to check it whenever I hear the text “bell” go off. But I do drive a very old car, and a cell phone comes in mighty handy when a distributor cap cracks. So I carry a phone. When I wrote this song, as I drove down the road in my wonderfully old car, I looked over and saw my phone on the passenger seat beside me. I looked back at the road ahead and thought, “I don’t wanna have to use it, but I wanna be prepared.”

 

The rest, as they say, is history.

 

Happy December.