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But Don’t Pity Me

November 11, 2008

I wrote a freaking awesome song tonight.

I mean, like, well okay. I hate starting something like that because people think “oh, she thinks she’s so great, la di da.” And just to somehow justify that comment, I do have to say that BSG has heard it and has proclaimed it to be “easily her favorite,” although, to be fair, she is one of my best friends, and may be a bit biased.

But in all honesty, I don’t mean that it’s RADIO AWESOME, CARRIE UNDERWOOD AWESOME, MAKE ME THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS AWESOME, although a big part of me has this good feeling that it just might be… but what I really mean is, it felt freaking awesome writing it.

It felt even better singing it after writing it.

I read this blog, whose author is this incredible songwriter who has been making his living by writing songs for probably as long as I’ve been alive. He knows what he’s doing. One of the great lessons he tries to teach is that almost no GREAT song can be written in an hour or two. Sure, everyone has their moments of epiphany, but a songwriter lucky enough to have those has to put the time into his or her craft so that the tools needed for that one lucky song are in place, ready to fall together. I’d like to believe that, while maybe not great, my latest REALLY GOOD song was one of those songs– something that just came out as I was sitting at my keyboard, and I just knew… I just knew it was going to mean something to me for quite a long time. And I was right, and it has not only come to mean something to me, but to some of you, my blogging friends, and others I’ve never met anywhere but for a message on myspace saying, “This song is amazing to me.” And those messages are amazing to me. (And if you haven’t figured it out, the song I’m talking about is “Better Not Settle.” But who am I kidding? You knew that.)

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I’ve definitely put my time in– I’ve been building on these skills since I was 11 or 12 years old. This songwriting thing is IN me and there’s no escaping that… but I am NOT the “work on it” kind of songwriter. I usually do write songs in an hour or two, with the exception of maybe sleeping on it for a night to clear my head so that I can add a bridge that sounds fresh. Little things like that. But usually, I do not go back and change lyrics or melodies or chords. I try to do them right the first time. Mr. Bickhardt would criticize me for that, I think, and in many cases, I think he’d be right. The problem is that I never know what to take out, what to add, what to change. Sometimes when I know something’s just not working, I completely abandon it. Sometimes I settle for “good enough.” I’m okay with it, because in those cases, the songwriting becomes my hobby, not my career. I just chock it up to practice and move on with life.

But tonight I was flipping through my notebook and I found these lyrics I’d written more than a month ago, which were written from a concept I came up with a month before that. I had never added a melody or chords or anything to them, I didn’t have a second verse, I hated the chorus… and that’s why I stopped. But I still loved the concept. So I just started playing piano, and there it was. The verses were good except for a line or two, which I had no problem changing, and then as I finished those, the chorus just fixed itself within the melody I was writing. The hook fell into place more beautifully than I could have imagined, and the third verse was suddenly very easy to write, with the exception of trying to rhyme the word “much” with alcohol, ANY ALCOHOL, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT THIS LINE BE ABOUT ALCOHOL! (I ended up changing the word “much” to “dearly” and rhyming it with “whiskey” which probably doesn’t seem like it works to you but to you I say FUM! Rhyme an alcohol with “MUCH” and we’ll talk.)

So the point (THE. POINT) is that I have this concept song that is not one of my “Oh, Woe is Courtney” or “Oh, Joy to the Courtney!” songs, which is a VERY refreshing change up because I love to write “Woe to Courtney” songs but they get a little tiresome after awhile and I’d never want to make an entire album of PLEASE PITY ME. AND BUY ME. KTHX. So I have a concept song (although still very Woe-Ish, it is just very… not me.) and it is a concept that I obviously worked very hard on, and let stew around in my head for months and months, and changed it again and again before it was finally right.

Who knows, I may even do some more changing tomorrow.

But maybe I should be looking at these houses my future roomie emailed me so that she’ll continue to be my future roomie. I’ve been a bad future roomie this week.

Oh so excited.

Am I finally ready for this?
I’m getting there, huh?

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