Blogging Everyday in July|Songwriting and Other Thoughts

I’m not an amazing songwriter.  But I can make up lyrics.   That’s just a thing that I do, and I’m pretty sure anyone else can do it.  However, I was asked to write on songwriting.  I had this idea to film a time lapse of my songwriting process, but I’m too tired and I don’t have good enough technology to do something so neat and elaborate.  So I’ll just write about it.  I’m always writing.
On a side note, I am more than halfway through this thing.  I have 11 days left.  This is the 20th day that I have blogged in a row.  Unfortunately, I feel that my writing is starting to get worse, as my eyes grow ever tired.

I very rarely sit down to write a song.  Songs just come to me.  Last night my heart was bleeding into my soul and I was aching, ever aching, so I picked up my guitar with the goal of playing through some songs.  I hoped maybe the music could heal me.  Instead, lyrics came to me instantly and I wrote a song.  A link to that song is here: From the Outside.  Possibly a five minute process.  Not every song takes five or ten minutes, but I don’t like to leave things unfinished, so every song is written in one sitting.  Sometimes I’ll add a bridge or fix the timing or something later, but the product as a whole is usually one sitting.  Editing doesn’t often happen on anything I do, in case you haven’t noticed.
But none of this makes me amazing.  I’m not bragging.  Because not every song I write is amazing.  I’m fully aware that I write a lot of shitty things.  I just need everyone else to know that I recognize my imperfections.
I once had a conversation with Kim Walker-Smith (yes, that one) about songwriting.  She was telling my friend that no one can write a song in one sitting, in a couple minutes.  That when that does happen for anyone, it’s very rare.  That was when I learned of my rarity.  Because I write every song like that.  I write every poem like that.  I write every blog like that.  I’m an impatient person, so I need to get it all out as quickly as I can.
Since moving to the south, I’m suddenly surrounded by musicians and songwriters.  Some of them have tried to tell me what I’m doing wrong.  They’ve tried to get technical with music.  But I rarely call myself a musician.  That’s not what I am.  I don’t care if the chords sound good.  I don’t fix things.  I don’t write music for other people.  But if a musician wanted to take my music and my lyrics and add something amazing, I’d be down.  That’s just not what I’m searching for.  I can play piano.  I dabble in guitar.  I can hold a beat.  That’s all I need for what I do at the moment.  It’s really hard to make people understand that.
So I do everything wrong.  I’m just wrong.  Thank you, and good night.

But really, though.  I started to say that I don’t write songs with the intention of writing songs.  They just come to me.  I think that’s where the best music comes from.  I think maybe people who struggle with songwriting might struggle because they’re trying to write a song, they’re trying to find the perfect lyric to fit.  If it’s right, it doesn’t have to fit, or maybe it fits already, you just can’t see it.
A lot my songs come when I’m already playing music.  I’ll be in between songs, just messing around with chords, and something new will suddenly appear.  That’s my favorite.

So I don’t really have a songwriting process.  I don’t really have a writing process.  I just write.  I just am.  I simply exist.  I’m a writer, not by vocation, but in biology.  My genetics force me to pour the words out.
But lately I feel that I’m not allowed to say the things I want to say.  People are getting too close to me, and my rough edges, my blunt honesty, my liberal Theology, makes them get too offended.  I am just too much.  When my friends start reading my blog, I almost can’t handle it anymore, because they assume everything is about them.  I don’t mean all of my friends, just the sensitive ones.
Have you ever heard the song “You’re so Vain?”

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.

I understand why that song was written.  Because I know those people.  “You’re so vain, you probably think this blog is about you.”  And maybe it is.  But assuming doesn’t make it so.

I’m in a place.  My heart is in a place.  And I just want to go home.  But I probably want to go home, not because I don’t belong here, or because I feel unaccepted, but because I feel trapped.  I was so mad at God because when I got back from Ireland I wanted to move, but I felt trapped in Mammoth.  Now I feel trapped here.  I can’t go home.  Really, we always want what we can’t have.  Until I can be satisfied, I’ll always want to be somewhere else.  And the only way I’ll ever be satisfied is if I allow myself to just be still.  Just be still.  Just be still.  My heart is never still.  Still.

Another Christmas, another song

When I was 17 I fell in love with a Christmas song.  This year I decided to learn it.  And because it’s Christmas and I worked a double and I’m tired, I don’t have much to say.  So enjoy this one shot video that I recorded in my friend’s bedroom.  Haven’t even actually watched it.

 

 

Fell For You

Maybe I fell in love with you the very first day
The 14th of February, when we decided to go out after work
Joking that it was our first date because it was the international day of love

I could have sat across from you for hours
Talking about cars and music and God
But instead I left you early, realizing we were kindred spirits

Maybe it was when you brought my favorite candy to work with you
Saying I could only have it if I promised to stay
Even though you knew that I wouldn’t

It could have been the night we watched Netflix in your room and I fell asleep
And you did too, until I begged you to take me home
And you joked the next day that you’d tell people we slept together

It was probably the night I brought over my guitar
But instead of my music making you fall in love
We told stories of life and death and why we believe what we believe

After that I thought I’d never get over you
Even though I wasn’t convinced I was under you
Struck with the knowledge that there was still someone else

There’s always a possibility that I fell for you the night I asked you about her
And you were so broken and ashamed, even when you didn’t need to be
We drove around for an hour while you asked me what I wanted in a guy, knowing it could never be you

I fell in love when you helped me to breathe again
Even though it meant I had to leave again
While you stayed behind

I knew I was a goner when you told me you’d promised yourself you wouldn’t kiss me
And you didn’t
You ran away instead

My footing was slipping when you said you’d been thinking
That I might be worth trying
Then you changed the rules because you believed I was worth more than this

My heart hit the ground the night you actually did kiss me
Okay with not going too far
Because I’d never been there with a guy before

I was soaring high when it happened again
And we sat on your bed talking about all of our impossibilities
And how they could be possible if only things were different

And then I came crashing down
The possibility of you leaving two months too soon had never occurred to me
And the idea of you being gone forever is just too much for me

So I’ve decided that I never fell for you at all
And that I write an awful lot about love for someone who’s never experienced it
Because maybe I still don’t believe in it

Even though what I feel for you is different than I’ve ever felt before
I’d never tell you so
Because I don’t love you, not at all

Performance

Performing.  It’s something we all do.  It’s something we hate.  It’s something we love.  It’s something that comes subconsciously, naturally, into everything.  But why?  Most of us don’t even realize it or acknowledge it.

I read a blog by a friend, if I can even call him that, that talks about this performance culture that so many of us are surrounded by.  Here’s a link, he’s better than I am anyway: https://adamamanse.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/seeking-originality-and-finding-yourself/.  See, performance.

We compare ourselves to everyone, in one way or the other.  I’m short.  I’m not thin.  I don’t look like the girls who all the guys talk about.  I’m a writer.  I write poetry and music, but I share more poetry than music, because that’s something I thought I was the best at.  I couldn’t handle when I found out I knew spoken word artists that might be more talented than I am.  I rarely played music for people I didn’t know because my voice isn’t amazing, I don’t sound like the musicians that people want to listen to.  I didn’t try out for plays or play sports anymore when I got to college.  Why?  Because I was embarrassed.  I didn’t want people to laugh at me if I wasn’t good enough.  I didn’t want people talking about me.  Performance.

I had a new friend say that I hide myself.  She asked me why.  People in Mammoth don’t realize that I’m a musician.  They don’t all know that I write a blog.  They don’t care.  I never really thought anyone cared.  People are surprised when they find out that I started leading worship when I was fourteen.  They’re surprised that it’s something that I’ve done before.  People are surprised when I do spoken word anywhere.  I get embarrassed when someone calls me out about it, so they assume I don’t like it, that I’m afraid, but that’s not true at all.
I am in love with performing spoken word.  I am not in love with performing to prove something.  I don’t have to be better.  Maybe I am better.  Literally, no one cares, do they?  Not in the real world.  Performance.

I wonder if this is maybe one of the reasons the I ended up back in Mammoth.  I don’t have to perform here.  I can be whoever I want for a while.  If someone hears that I play guitar or piano or write music, they’re not expecting me to be amazing, or not amazing, or anything.  They’re just interested that I do anything at all.  A guy I used to work with for some reason believes I’m the best.  But I know that he didn’t go to college where there were so many musicians, and I never felt good enough.
Maybe I came home so I can believe that I’m good again.  When I inspired other people in college to start writing poetry and doing spoken word, they got offended when a friend of mine said I was the best poet he knew.  But that was my whole life then.  It’s what I thought I would end up doing.  And maybe it still is.  Being a poet in that kind of culture made me feel like I was always in competition.
But life is not a competition!  No one cares!  Stop performing!  Get it together, people!
I am good at what I do.  And other people are good at what they do.  If you want to write, then just write.  If you want to perform, then just perform.  Stop focusing on everyone else.
Maybe I came home so that I can get away from performing for a while.  The culture here is still a performance culture, I just don’t do any of the things that people are competing against each other for.  I’m not a great snowboarder, and I know that, and that’s not my life.  I don’t go to bars to find guys.  I don’t feel like I have to be the best.  I don’t have to perform.

I think the next step might be learning to love what I can do.  I don’t need to be so concerned with what everyone else thinks.  Because although they care, they really don’t care.  And maybe I needed that for a while.  Performance.

Down in Flames

I feel like losing it all
I feel like dropping everything
I feel like turning around, I don’t belong here
It’s like you tried to stab me in the back
But waited till I turned around
And now my heart is dripping to the ground

I don’t know who you are
Don’t know who I thought you could be
But I know you’re definitely not for me
Can you even hear me?
Do you even know my name?
All I know is that I’m going down in flames

I was trying so hard
Stretching myself too thin
There’s no point in tryin’ this again
I’m giving it all back
Every word I ever promised
Sick of breaking beneath it all

I miss you the most
When my heart is broken
Even though it seems
It’s usually you who does the breaking

Yours (Too Many Times)

This is a rough cut of a song I wrote that really needs to be re-recorded, but I’m too lazy and not talented enough to work at it.  But I felt like sharing it.

It’s been too many times that I’ve been broken
But I keep coming back to you
And it’s been too many times that you have messed up
But you keep coming back to me, too
And we both know that I’ll forgive you too many times
Still hopin’ that somehow we will get it right
Hopin’ it all just be fine

I would be yours forever
If you would just ask me
If you would just say the word
Already I am yours forever
In the midst of everything
Even when my heart is breaking
I’m still yours

It’s been too many times that you have left me
And I only know how to let you
It’s been too many times that I’ve pushed you away
And that’s all you let me do
For far too long now we have let this go on
Knowing that we’ll probably never get it right
But it’s so damn good while we’re gettin’ wrong

I would be yours forever
If you would just ask me
If you would just say the word
Already I am yours forever
In the midst of everything
Even when my heart is breaking
I’m still yours

I’ve been yours
Far too many times before
Even as I let go
Even as I move on
Everytime you say the word
I’m still yours

I would be yours forever
If you would just ask me
If you would just say the word
Already I am yours forever
In the midst of everything
Even when my heart is breaking
I’m still yours

My Weakness

You are my weakness
But I don’t want you to see me at my weakest
Even though it seems it is you who puts me there
As much as I hate you, I can’t let you go

If I believed in love, I’d say I love you
But what we have isn’t love at all
It’s a passion like a matchstick held too long
Lights fast and then burns the hand that holds it
And it’s always my hand that holds it

To you I’m like an old guitar in the back of your closet
Easily forgotten, but waiting eagerly for you
And when you pull me out, you never change my strings
You play until I go out of tune
Then you hide me away because you found something new that sounds so much sweeter

I can’t let you play me anymore
But we both know I’m forever yours
I’m begging for you to pawn me off to someone who will take care of me
Yet, maybe I’m not good enough for anyone else, either

I never came back here for you
But you found me anyway
And when you started to feel something
Reality got in the way

We are so wrong for each other
Yet it seems like we could be so right
We freaked out, we’re terrified
Not even committed enough to fight

I want to be worth fighting for
I want new strings, a new sound, and for the dust and crakcs and scars to be gone from my aging wood
If I ran away, would you fight for me?
If my heart were stolen, would you buy it back?

How did we even get here?
How did I let it go this far again?
I wish it had gone even further, still
I wish we never had to end

Because you’re my weakness
No matter how strong I am
I’ll always fall for  you
Will you ever catch me?