Having taken up the bass, I decided to write. It’s hard to do that on the bass so for that I revert to the guitar. I took an on-line course from Berklee College of Music in Boston, as part of the coursera system. On song-writing. There’s a bias that one needn’t/shouldn’t need a course to learn how to write. I found it useful. Boy things can be complicated. But the ideas were mostly about coming up with a structure for your songs.

In the recent Eagles documentary, Glenn Frey said that one has to write lots of bad songs to get a good one. When you write, though, it’s hard to tell which are “bad”. I use time on the subway and bus to write. Lyrics first. Then simple chords. Then fleshing out. I’m having problems with choruses. Strangely, the tunes that bounce around my head are of songs that I’ve written. Each has its own personality and they needn’t be autobiographical, although some are.

I can’t sing, but that doesn’t matter in the confines of my den, where I usually play. I want to improve because I enjoy singing them. And there’s the dream of doing it before other people.

When I say each has its own personality, it’s that they each have, I think, a unique sound. Even if there’s overlap on the topic.

I read this article, on a 2 train in Brooklyn as it happens, about the “Brooklynization” of music. It’s a call-to-arms of maintaining one’s own, or at least one’s own regional, sound. As a guy writing on subways and playing in a den, it’s a reminder akin to what bloggers should remember, that no one else cares what you say, or write, or sing. Or that you should act as if no one does and then everything is gravy.

You create characters. On Friday, for example, I put together some lines on the subway and got a verse-and-a-half. I had no idea where it was going  but when I put it to music — C F C G F C, as simple as it gets — hitting the lower strings of the guitar it had a Springsteen “Nebraska”-era sound. The start could have gone either way, but as lines were added I realized that the guy I was writing about was going to die. Turns out, he died in a “silly street fight” after “he was caught up in a lie”. I don’t know his name, in fact he went to a new town where “no one knew his name”, but he left a young child (the toddler next-door wandered about as I was working), a daughter, in a town far away, who he never really knew and would always wonder why he “gave up on her”.

New Town
                       C
He didn’t know anyone cdcdec
C
But he went anyway cddcde
 C                       F
He needed something different cdcdfc
F                        C
So he couldn’t just stay cdcde
                        G
It was a long trip ffefgd
                         F
Made longer by delay dddcde
                          C
He didn’t know anyone cdcdec
G                       C
But he went anyway cddede

Wasn’t what he expected.
He thought it right for a new start.
Sure it had museums and things.
He hadn’t come for the art.
Soon he was settled in
In the next to the toughest part.
Wasn’t what he expected.
He thought it right for a new start.

Chorus: G   C   G   F  C   G

Things had not gone the way he thought they would.
Sometimes he didn’t understand; he always tried to do good.
Was it too late to change? He needed to know.
Which is why he couldn’t stay but needed to go.

The days were getting longer.
Lots of things to be thought through.
He left a small child,
Who he never really knew.
He felt it made him a coward.
But it was all that he could do.
The days were getting longer.
Lots of things to be thought through.

He started as a stranger.
No one knew his name.
Free of all the baggage
He’d shed before he came.
Hoping that having done so,
Things wouldn’t be the same.
He started as a stranger.
No one knew his name.

[CHORUS]

But it didn’t matter.
He was the same man deep down,
Whether he had stayed home,
Or moved to this new town.
He couldn’t change things,
In the end he’d have to drown,
It just didn’t matter,
He was the same man deep down.

It was a silly street fight,
And a stupid way to die.
He had gotten hostile,
When he was caught up in a lie.
He had the chance to back-out,
He didn’t even try.
It was a silly street fight,
And a stupid way to die.

For no reason
He’d orphaned his flesh and blood,
Who’d never understand
Why he just gave up on her.
He never really knew her,
Didn’t want to drag her through the mud.
For no reason
He’d orphaned his flesh and blood.

(All rights reserved.)
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