10:57 a.m. - June 25, 2005
But my curiosity got to me, and now I wonder, “What was I thinking back then???”
Ten to fifteen years ago, I fancied myself a lyric writer. Some inspiration came to me and I would jot down a few verses, a chorus and a maybe a bridge if I was feeling complicated. Usually, they were inspired by girlfriends (ex, current, or potential), and they were dashed off, printed out, and then put into a folder.
The melodies of these songs were swimming around in my head, so if I ever got enough musical training, or took the time to sit down with Moose and work out the chords and arrangements, I could probably have written the entire song and not just the words.
A lot of these songs were in a pop-rock with an edge vein (kind of like the Posies), but sometimes when I got a bit political or avant-garde they got a bit more aggressive, at least in my mind. Because no one else heard these things but me!
But about 1993 or so, the muse dried up and I stopped writing the lyrics. The irony of the situation is that’s the year I started dating Liz, so one could wonder why the muse went away then. Of course, one could say that I was no longer needy, or pining, or trying to be ultra-impressive since I found the right one for me.
The folder that I put these songs in was stashed in a desk drawer that served as our computer desk for a while. When we got a real-live computer desk the contents of that desk were put into the garage into our old house, along with all of the newspaper articles I wrote as a stringer for the Crawfordsville paper, and various other odds and ends.
Out of sight, out of mind for sure. Every once in a while I would remember about something I had ‘written’ but I never had the gumption to go and find the songs.
When we moved last December, the container that this folder was in wound up in our storage room. I saw the folder in there and peeked at it a couple of times, but didn’t really examine things too closely.
Well, the past couple of weeks I had the time and the gumption, thanks to the odd hours I’ve been keeping. Being on Daddy duty for little Kristin has given me some free time. (I usually stay up until 1 to be sure she’s fine and doesn’t need feeding or changed). So I went into the storage room and found the folder of songs and took a peek.
Again, I say, “What was I thinking???”
There were probably 40 or 50 songs in there – dating from 1986 with my first ‘true love’ and ending with something or another I wrote in 1995 during an MBA class when I was bored out of my mind.
I say these were dashed off – they definitely were. Many songs had weak structures and poor meter. At times I was trying to be extra-impressive with my word choices. Other times I was searching for a rhyme and just found the most convenient one.
A few of the songs seem to have been done fairly well. One that I wrote for a girlfriend in 1991 I still think could be a super-spectacular pop smash, if done the right way. (I labored over that one for a while). There’s another one about a road trip on the west coast that could be a fun rock and roll tune. A few others (about some co-workers in 1991 and 1992) also seem to be pretty well done. One that is really fine is about a trio of girls I met back then – I dated one of them for about a month and honestly I don’t remember her name because I didn’t put her name in the song. I just put the names of her friends in the song and just used her first initial in the title. Is it Lori, Laura, Linda?? Beats me. (I guess she made quite an impression, eh?)
Some, though, are just dreck, with sappy sentiment and easy rhymes. Also, when I got political, I was naive and heavy-handed. I wrote a lot of that stuff in the Spring and early summer of 1992 when it looked like my candidate of choice (by default, because the people I really wanted to run got beat early, as usual) was going to finish third in a three-way race. (Things changed for the better later in the year, so that’s probably why I stopped trying to be policital).
As I was looking through these songs, a thousand thoughts started cascading through my brain. First I wondered if I really wasn’t on some substances that I just blocked out? (I wasn’t). Second, why was I thinking these were so good I would save them? Third, why didn’t I spend more time on them if I thought they were going to be good enough? (Many of them could be rescued, I suppose – if you took them to a lyrical ER. Lots of IV’s of D5W, stat!)
Fourth, why am I a little embarrassed about them now? They’re just silly little songs that I dashed off a while back and just found – they weren’t going to affect how anyone thought of me now. Many of my friends had no idea they existed – I don’t even think Liz realized what was in that folder.
Then I thought about these essays. Ten, fifteen, twenty years from now, how will I feel about these? Will I look back with bemused embarrassment? Or will I realize that I needed a creative release and these essays offered a chance for that release. There are always lots of thoughts in your head – you just need to get the thoughts out sometimes.
In the lyric folder, I also found a listing of band names that I faxed to Moose back in the day. Some, mind you, are quite clever. (I always liked Gilded Sepulchre, Atomic Fireball, Hung Jury, and Locksley Collie (which was the name of a basketball player for the University of Texas back then)). I think I’m a better title and name person than lyric writer.
I wonder what people would think about them. If I shared them with others, maybe they would see that they aren’t so bad. I am my own worst critic, and I think everyone is unless they’re a total narcissist. And maybe, someday, before I turn 100, I’ll have the gumption to finish the music and copyright them.
Still, I kind of hang my head and wonder about some of these things. I shake my head and chalk it up to my youth, or my overestimation of my abilities at the time, or my tendency to pack rat anything that I deem remotely salvageable.
But as I write this, I realize that there was nothing wrong in writing those lyrics, there’s nothing wrong with saving them, and nothing wrong with being a bit sheepish about finding them and realizing that they weren’t all that and a bucket of chicken. But when you put something on paper and save it – you do kind of open yourself up to examinations of the past like this. And really, that’s OK.
Ok, enough navel gazing, I know. But when you get 4 ½ hours of sleep a night, you tend to gaze at anything that’s nearby – and my navel is getting easier to spot these days!