The Evolution of a Song, Part 3

The Evolution of a Song, Part 3

(In Parts 1 and 2, I explained that I’m writing a song for a local contest, and I shared the first few steps of the songwriting process.  Part 3 continues the story, but it isn't the end.  You'll have to wait until Part 4 for that, and you will be rewarded with a link to the song!)

Saturday, August 31 (continued):

8:35 a.m.:  Time to come up with some words to go with that major/minor movement.  Major is kind of hopeful, while minor sounds sad, so I might write about the poignant life of a homeless cat living on the streets.  I pick up my pencil and I write:

Been livin' on the streets
Long as I can remember
From January
Straight through to December
It's a tough life for a feline
So I decided to make a beeline
To this lady at the shelter
Thought my face would melt her

     I add “furry” before face, because I love using alliteration (lots of letters that line up with lovely little similar sounds). 

     OK, now I have a story.  I try singing these words with the chords as a backdrop, and a melody bubbles to the surface.  It works.  I’d better write it down before I forget how it goes.  I slowly pluck out my melody on the guitar and write down the tune, note by note.    

     Then, back to the story line.  What will happen to poor Romeo next?  I pick up my pencil and the words come.  I write: 

Well, she wanted to keep me, but
She had so many others
We were one big family of
Four-legged sisters and brothers

     I pause, and change “big” to “huge.”  I turn the paper over and immediately I know that I want to say something about how cats always get “fixed” at the shelter.   But what rhymes with fixed?  Nixed?  Or maybe there’s another word … spayed?  neutered?  I start penciling words in the margin, a technique I learned in a songwriting class.  I jot down the word “tutored,” then cross it off.  Cats aren’t tutored.  Or are they?  They are taught certain things, like how to use a litter box.  What’s that called?  House-training.  OK, I guess I have another line:

We were house-trained and tutored
We all got neutered

     But the rhythm isn’t right.  Oh, how about “We all got spayed and neutered.”  Yeah, that fits.  Now I write more words in the margins.  I write “rough,” because that’s life in a shelter.  Then I write “stuff,” and several other words that I might keep or toss. 

8:42 a.m.:  Now my song has a chorus and two verses.  I probably should add a third verse.  A line from a Robert Frost poem comes to me, about a cat that pads around on little cat feet.  Why not steal that line, too?  Robert Frost sure isn’t around to complain.  I keep writing.

8:54 a.m.:  I’ve got a general idea of a song now.  An intro, three verses, and a chorus.  Let me try playing the whole thing from start to finish on the guitar.

8:57 a.m.:  It works!  I’m excited.  I think I’ve got a winner!

9:00 a.m.:  I tell Chuck, and he immediately says, “Let’s turn the studio on and we can record it.”  That’s one thing I love about Chuck.  He’s very supportive and he makes me feel like a real musician.  And he doesn’t even like cats!

In Part 4, you'll read about the recording process, and I'll post a link to the song.



September 08, 2013 @09:50 am
I agree with Darla about cats and the creative process you are sharing! And for some balance, I hope you write a song about dogs, too :)
Darla Anderson
September 07, 2013 @10:18 pm
I don't like cats either, allergic actually, but I'm fascinated by the creative process. It's very much an individualistic personal thing. Thanks for sharing yours, Lori! Can't wait to hear the song.

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