There are over a billion scraps of paper, hiding in various corners, under couch cushions, in drawers and jeans pockets, showing in plain sight on dresser tops, change bowls and dash boards. These various little notes may contain a prophetic lyric that could change your world, or they could stay crumpled forever; these are the poetic scraps that we song-writers collect over the course of our life-times. "You never knows" just sitting there, folded waiting for the perfect melody.
Who knows if some of these notes will ever be read again, or used. How many notebooks can one person have anyway? There are notebooks in every corner of my house, and scraps of paper with dreams and ideas in most of the bags I own, perhaps they are there for when lyrics come no more. Maybe the act of writing, is in and of itself the only point. To use or not to use, might not be the question at all, but rather to write to write and to write some more.
In times of technology, like today, an Iphone is very handy, when the combination of pen, paper and or napkin can not be found. Again, my notes section is filled to the brim with lyrical sentiments, and the recording device has at least a hundred started musical ideas. Some days when I am on a train to the next performance I just listen to the songs, erasing ones that have no real effect on me. So many ideas deleted without another moment of thought. On the rare occasion that I find something that I deem true and worthy, I will sit with it and my guitar and work it out. Mostly though, I sit with my guitar and a brand new song is born. from scratch, with no help from torn up pieces of paper or half ideas kept hidden in a tiny machine.
One of the most common of questions for a song-writer is "What comes first, the melody or the lyrics?" or "How do you write a song?" Most would agree that when a song comes, it usually comes in one long whoosh, from a magical place unknown. To be sure, there is no absolute way to compose a piece of music, there is no perfect equation that will work every time. Some songs come in moments, and some take hours, months even, to "complete." I put complete in quotes because every song can be changed up a bit. Perhaps one time you start out with the first verse, sometimes it feels better to start out with the Chorus. One band will add a catchy keyboard riff in the middle 8 (or bridge) and another might replace the keys with mandolin, changing the sound entirely. Of course we song-writer's do have certain styles, but again nothing is 100%, so where I usually add a bridge (or middle 8) in a song, I do not always find the perfect spot for one. And that is okay.
Some years ago, I had the rarity of meeting Bono of the band "U2" in Ireland, at a hotel in the middle of nowhere, where he was attending a friends wedding. We talked about music, I had only just written and recorded my very first song and conveniently had it with me, to share. He was very kind and gave me a moment of his time and a few words of advice (which I had asked for.) One thing that always stuck with me was that the bridge of a song should stand out apart from the song and that it should actually be the best part of the song, even better than the chorus. So yeah, I really like to add one, but I always have his words in the back of my mind. If I can not find something extra-ordinary, I will not add one at all.
Which brings me to my next point... Co-Writing a song can also be an amazing experience. I highly recommend getting out there and finding someone to write with. Two heads are better then one in most cases, so if the opportunity comes up to do this, I encourage you to do it! Brock Zeman and I wrote this song "Ships" together and it could be the most universally liked song that I have ever performed. It was a great writing session with Brock and way easier than I had ever thought it would be.
We lost a troubadour singer & song-writer on the weekend, Ron Hynes from Newfoundland, Canada. He was also called "Man of a Thousand Songs." And what a writer indeed. I remember playing on the same stage as Ron, at The Newfoundland Folk Festival, as part of a song-writers circle...I mean how lucky could a girl be, sharing a stage with a legend like himself. It was sad news for many people out there, who have all lived lives to the soundtrack of Ron's music. Most would know him for "Sonny's Dream." It had been months since I wrote a full song, some might say writer's block, but I am not so sure... In any case, I will leave you all with my new song, a tribute to Ron. "The Likes of You." Ron, I thank you.