Friday, October 30, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

Did you think I was going to blog about riding a horse? Nope... this is all about music! After a couple weeks of not being able to sing much because of a cold or some virus that managed to create shortness of breath, wheezing, and a dry cough, I am thrilled to be able to sing again! So this week has pretty much been devoted to musical art rather than visual art, though I did make one new necklace... which you may have seen in my earlier post. It's now finished, but not photographed yet.

This photo is of my dear, dear Guild... circa 1974, a D-35... which means a dreadnaught guitar, nice and hefty. I've had her since 1976; she was a high school graduation gift from my parents, interestingly enough, purchased way back then from my bandmate, Trey! So now you know how old I am and how long I've played music with Trey, though fortunately the two of us have come a long, long way since then... musically and in other ways as well! Over the summer the Guild had a little work done... a new bone bridge and nut installed, some fretwork and new pins, and man, oh man, I love the way she sounds now! Rich and true, a little bright, but not too bright. I'm sooo pleased. Of course, the right strings help and those that are on her now, Elixir Nanoweb Light Phosphor Bronze, are just perfect... they'll be my staple from now on.

So I'm thinking about the originals I'll be putting on my first CD, and the order they'll be in, and I've been working on those songs, polishing them up a little, fine-tuning and such. But I've also got two new ones that my bandmates haven't heard yet, one that I wrote this week, and yet another one in the works. My songs tend to reflect my mood, of course. They are sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, sometimes silly, sometimes happy and bright... love songs, songs about loss, songs about the current state of affairs, songs about growing old, and even one song about murder! Some are story songs (I love the story-telling Texas songwriters!); some are not. Sometimes my songs start from a word that I love or a phrase that sticks in my head. Sometimes from a conversation with my husband or from a story I've read in the news or an experience someone has told me about. Sometimes they come from a feeling that is so strong I can't see past it.

Sometimes people ask why I wrote a certain song, and sometimes people assume that every song is true. Well, of course not all my songs come from personal experience. In that sense, they are not all "true." But in some way, they all start from a thought I've had, or a story I've heard or read, or even an image I've seen. But you can't listen to a song and assume it's something the songwriter has experienced. If that's the case, I'd probably be in jail or dead since I wrote a song, told in first person, about first degree murder!

Songwriting is all about word play, enjoying the sound of words, of rhymes, of being very intentional with your word choice and the mood you want to set with your words. And you have to think about rhythm and melody, pacing, and for me on guitar, whether the song will be strummed or picked. It's not unlike painting in which you take a blank canvas and add color, texture, patterns and lines, foreground and background to create an image that speaks of an emotion, a story, or a vision.

Next week, perhaps I'll get back in the painting studio where there is a half-begun canvas waiting for me. And plenty of blank ones as well. But when the song-writing mood hits me, as it did the other night 'round midnight and I had to get out of bed and write down some lines so I wouldn't forget them, I have to follow through.


  1. So beautifully written! Music, visual arts, and poetry are all family. I wish I could sing! Used to play piano...and I can clear a room with singing! Let me know when that CD is available. I'm first in line!

  2. Hi Rebecca!! My husband sings (amazing voice!) and used to have a 12 string Guild in the late 70s which he had to sell in the 80s! He almost cried when I showed him your picture!!! He talks about the big sound and the purity and sigh...wonderfulness!! xo Cait