I have been been blessed to sing wonderful songs written by other people for many decades — as the MP3 player on the right hand sidebar of this page can attest.
And every now and then I have helped to write or co-write a song.
But it wasn’t until a few years ago, when I bought my first ‘ukulele, that I started writing songs on a regular basis.
I love reading about how other songwriters have created their hits.
Composer Harry Warren and lyricist Johnny Mercer wrote “Jeepers, Creepers,” “On The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe,” and “You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby.”
Warren gave Mercer the nickname ‘Cloud Boy’.
As Warren explained, “A lot of times when I would play a melody for John… particularly if it was after a good lunch… he’d stretch out on a couch and just lie there with his eyes closed and his hands folded across his stomach. He was way up there some place in the clouds. Of course, what came out later was just great.”
When asked by his father about his creative process, Mercer once said, “I simply get to thinking over the song — pondering over it in my mind — and all of a sudden I get in tune with the Infinite.”
Many songwriters have expressed a similar sentiment — that they feel as though they are acting as a conduit or channel for something greater than themselves.
The lyricist Ira Gershwin said that the composer Harold Arlen would never “approach the simplest musical requirement or idea without first calling upon ‘the fellow up there’ — jabbing his finger at the ceiling.”
I cannot say that I have experienced this phenomenon yet.
I have, however, noticed that lyrical themes sometimes emerge which surprise me and lead a song in a different direction than I had originally intended.
And I have had the inspiring experience of writing a song which gradually became true.
It is called “Can We Slow It Down?” — and I wrote it a couple of years ago when I was working full time at my day job in Harvard Square.
I realized recently when I was practicing it at home that my life has in fact slowed down since I began singing this song.
If you are curious, you can listen to “Can We Slow It Down?” by clicking on the audio player at the top of this page.
I will be singing it plus two other originals as part of a mini-set at a lovely open mic in Lexington — hosted by Nourish Restaurant on Massachusetts Avenue — on Tuesday, November 5, 2013, starting around 7:30 pm.
Perhaps you can join us.
Really nice post! I loved your song. I thought it had a very enjoyable and relaxing tone to it. Thank you for sharing!
Reblogged this on blatherbubbleblog.
Lovely song, lovely sound. It does have a bit of a Johnny Mercer influence to it, doesn’t it? I like what the ukelele does to the mood. Very interesting. I’m sure you’re going to be well-received at the open mic. It sounds to me quite a bit superior to the kind of thing one usually hears at open-mics.
My son is a musician song-writer. It’s an incredibly tough field to stand out in. But it’s never impossible. Wishing you much success! I think some of the upcoming posts in my entrepreneurship series might be helpful to you. One of the reasons so few musicians make the money they dream of, in my opinion, is that they trick themselves (or music-business professionals trick them) into thinking that being business-minded somehow conflicts with being artistic. It’s not true. The successful ones make it because they (or some trustworthy manager they’ve managed to link up with) think like entrepreneurs, not just like musicians.
Thanks for your reply! Very perceptive and also encouraging. I am sure that Johnny Mercer has influenced my songwriting in all sorts of conscious and unconscious ways. Specifically there is one line in “Can We Slow It Down?” where I observe, “something’s gotta give” — which is of course the title of a song which Mercer wrote (both words and music) for Fred Astaire to sing in a movie called Daddy Long Legs. I look forward to reading future posts (and the discussions that they inspire) about entrepreneurship.
I know a lot more about music than I let on. I come from a family of talented musicians, and worked my tail off trying to become one. I don’t regret all that I learned, but life got easier when I realized that music is not my particular gift.
I am, however, a great appreciator, because although I don’t have the raw talent to be a really good musician, I did pick up a lot of knowledge and discernment in my attempt to become one.
Now I appreciate your praise and positive feedback about my song even more. Thanks again.