As I reflect back on my illustrious songwriting career (here's where I would insert LOL if I knew what it meant) I must give credit to Chuck for having been there, done that, when it comes to writing and recording songs. Seeing what he'd done allowed me to have more of a vision. And besides, he had all the necessary equipment. I'm talking about the guitars, amps, keyboards, software, and patience to allow me to play, play, play. Yes, with all of his patience and generosity, he should have won the Nobel Peace Prize this year, or at least shared it with Mr. Liu Xiaobo.
Little by little, I learned how to create tracks, insert loops, and sing into a microphone. In no time, I was really hooked. Then one afternoon, after jogging to an energetic Billy Joel song (We Didn't Start the Fire), I came home on a hyperventilation high. With that rockin' rhythm still in my head, and most likely an overdose of oxygen in my brain, I sat down and wrote a feisty little protest song called "Hey, Mr. President." It was pretty catchy. I felt like a lean, mean version of Barry Manilow.
Chuck liked it enough to record it with me, and somehow we got the wild idea of making a video and putting it on YouTube. We've now retired the song, since THAT Mr. President isn't here to kick around any more. Come to think of it, neither is Dick Cheney, and it's too bad, because Cheney rhymes with insaney.
But, hold on a second. Before I give Chuck all the credit, there are two other people I need to mention -- two teenage boys, fellow students in a songwriting class that I took about six years ago. We were all novices, but they hadn't even heard of the song, "Michelle." Yes, THAT "Michelle." This boosted my confidence somewhat, since I was the only one in the class who correctly guessed that "Michelle" is the most-recorded song of all time. Okay, if you must know, there were only four students in the class, but I did manage to learn a thing or two. For example, can you think of a song title that effectively uses all of the following:
-- internal rhyme
-- has only FOUR syllables?
Hint: It's written by Bob Dylan.
Also, can you name a song whose first EIGHTEEN notes are all the same?
Hint: It's written by John Lennon.
Hell, I was learning from the masters!
It's true that, in the mid-80s, I'd made some lame attempts at songwriting. They were all about heartbreak and betrayal, with cringe-worthy titles like "Living in the Past" and "You Don't Love Me Anymore." And speaking of the 80s, it was in the early part of that decade that I came up with a sentimental tune called "The Only One," a Christmas gift for my parents. The sheet music sat on their piano for years afterward. I thought enough of it to send it to the copyright office, musical notation and all, although it was so unique to our family that no one else would ever have wanted to steal it. (My mother's meatballs were featured prominently.)
And now I think I'm getting closer to the truth about why I like to write songs. It's that same old excuse -- blame the parents.
To be continued ...