Creative Sunday: songwriting together

(by Jenna)

Hi friends! Just wanted to fill you in on what we’ve been up to since our last gig a couple weeks ago.

Though Eric, Carrie and I have been performing together for about 9 months, we usually do our song writing separately and bring (mostly) finished products to the table to share with the rest of the band. We decided that as part of our evolution as a band, we should bring our forces together for a Creative Sunday Afternoon. We weren’t exactly sure what would happen—would our claws come out? Would defensive tendencies crush the creative process? Would we experience joint writers’ block? Would someone’s guitar end up impaled on someone else’s melodica?

I am glad to report that it was not a disaster. With the help of some wine and coffee (as well as some fabulous lyrics from Eric’s brother John), we got into a musical mood and made it happen.

The lesson for us: we are able to work together in the creative process! And also: creating is hard work. Gratifying work—but not easy.

After 5 ½ hours together messing around with 3 guitars, a keyboard, a melodica, a djembe, a harmonica, a recorder and an egg shaker, we have three quasi-finished songs that we’re going to be polishing up to perform at our next gig.

By the end of the evening, with Carrie slouched on the couch in sheer exhaustion and Eric packing up his keyboard, I decided it was prime time to do a mini interview with my two bandmates. Catch ‘em while their defenses are down—that’s my motto.

So how has each of you affected the other’s songwriting?

C- Well Eric is a goofy person, and so it’s hard for me to be melancholy when he’s being so ridiculous.

E-She’s made me focus more on the melody and the singability of the song rather than harmonic or rhythmic flourishes.

C-Does that make me more of a folk writer, and you’re more of a classical writer?
E- I think my instincts are more classical and yours are more singer songwriter.

C- Also, a lot of my melancholy songs are pre-marriage. Maybe I was just a sadder person back then.

So what is this ‘Dinosaur’ song actually about?

C-Yes, yes, it is about something . . .  oh crap, I forgot.

E- John actually said something about the song a while ago . . .

C-Wait, I need to think about the lyrics . . . shoot, I really had a theory about this . . . Eric, sing it!

[Eric sings]

C- Um . . . oh . . . this conversation is showing the true character and unintelligibility of the artist.

How do you feel after you’ve written a song?

C-It depends on if it’s good or not.

 

Do you know when it’s good or bad?

C-I mean, I have my own spectrum of beauty, I guess . . . everyone has their own. Does that sound stupid? I mean, I can tell if something I’ve written is bad, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else is going to agree on what I think is ‘good.’

E-I was probably pretty excited about ‘Eloise’. (we performed this for the first time at our last gig; lyrics below)

C-‘Cause it came in one sitting, most of it. We thought of two short lines, Eric just started playing piano, and I started singing those lines. Then for a couple of weeks it didn’t go anywhere, and then we just sat down and started playing it and all the song came in one hour. It was 9:30 and I was like, “we’re just going to mess with this until 10 because I don’t want to mess with this all night,” and then I looked at the clock and it was 10:30 when we were done. I didn’t even think of stopping once we started going. I don’t think it’s like anything else that we have—that’s what makes it exciting.

Who is this Eloise, anyway?

E- It’s based on a real individual that we know. For obvious reasons, we won’t say who it is.

C-You’re making us sound like really mean people.

E-She certainly wouldn’t recognize herself in it, however.

How about the new song we just worked on, ‘Love is Home’?

C-This was unique, because we already had the words from George MacDonald and the music from Eric—we just had to marry them.

E-It was interesting, because I’ve actually set a lot of MacDonald’s writings to music, but this melody was written without thinking of MacDonald. So it was unlike the music I would have thought up if I had started with the words.

C-But it was good.

E-I’m glad to finally have that tune finished and out of my hair, though. An unfinished tune just does not leave you alone.

C-And they lived happily ever after. I’m happy with the song writing process as long as there’s some progress. But it is hard work . . . do you not think of it as hard work? What’s wrong with me? Do I have a bad work ethic?

E-It’s like swimming being hard work—it doesn’t feel like hard work.

C-It’s hard for me to get momentum going. Maybe that’s why we needed wine and coffee.

And for your reference, here are the lyrics to ‘Eloise’—come to our next gig and we’ll make sure to sing it for all y’all.

Eloise

 

Whatever you want, she’ll do as she pleases.

Eloise is… on her own.

You try to get close, but that’s when she freezes.

Eloise is… made of stone.

 

She’s soft as silk and hard as steel,

You might just wonder if she’s real.

She isn’t one to sit and pout.

She’ll kiss your feet then spit you out.

 

Your heart is a toy she ruthlessly teases.

Eloise is… awful deep.

She’ll cuddle up sweet, then leave you to Jesus.

Eloise is… not for keeps.

 

She will not rest until you’re hers,

And then, oh baby, how she purrs.

But once her claws are in real tight,

She’ll pull ‘em out and then she’ll bite.

 

Your future is dark, but you can’t resist it,

Eloise has… got ya good.

You know if you do, she’ll tear you to pieces

Eloise is… misunderstood.

 

She’ll pierce your eyes with hers until

You won’t do what you say you will.

There ain’t no use a’turnin’ back.

She’s on the prowl and she’ll attack.

 

And once she’s cozy on your knees,

Makin’ you a’ hug and squeeze.

She’ll make you cry for “Mercy, please!”

Naughty, naughty Eloise!

 

 

Category: Our thoughts
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