Week Twenty-Two

WANNABE
By Kim Davidson
© 2010

I could point fingers in any direction, but blame comes back like a boomerang
I could flip through and rewrite my life’s history, but I doubt that time’s improved my aim
I could name my frustrations like cats, like the children that I’ll never have
I could die today
And my epitaph would read this way:

CHORUS: Here lies the girl with the stars in her hair, who bit off more than she could chew
Here lies the poor excuse for a fighter, who never quite knew where to turn or what to do
And I would stand up at the pulpit, in my ghostly rags, stuck in between
And tell everyone the sad story of me, the misfit, the wannabe…

Too many things made promises to me, and too many times I believed
Too many times switching ladders mid-climb, far too much left unachieved
I’d have shared all the wealth and success, but I’m left all alone with this mess
And if I die today
My epitaph would read this way:

CHORUS: Here lies the girl with the stars in her hair, who bit off more than she could chew
Here lies the poor excuse for a fighter, who never quite knew where to turn or what to do
And I would stand up at the pulpit, in my ghostly rags, stuck in between
And tell everyone the sad story of me, the misfit, the wannabe…

BRIDGE: Please, little girl, keep your dreams in your pocket, don’t let them out in the air
You’re not prepared for the moment you’ll realize, there’s nothing there…

I could throw myself down at your feet, but the last you’d absolve would be me
And I would die today
But my epitaph would read this way:

CHORUS: Here lies the girl with the stars in her hair, who bit off more than she could chew
Here lies the poor excuse for a fighter, who never quite knew where to turn or what to do
And I would stand up at the pulpit, in my ghostly rags, stuck in between
And tell everyone the sad story of me, the misfit, the wannabe…

So I had written this happy little song about summer. I really liked the chorus, because it spoke to how I remember feeling coming home after a long day out doing summery things with my parents and siblings, especially time spent at the beach. The chorus came to me first so I tried to write verses around it, and that’s where I got stuck. Well, I guess it’s hard to say I got stuck considering I did flesh out an entire song; but it didn’t feel finished to me. Even though structurally I had all the pieces in place, it wasn’t quite doing it for me. But it was still probably going to be this week’s song. Except then my entire day went to hell.

I sought out the music of my friend Jacqueline Francis, who has this amazing song called “Wrong Turn” that just gets me in the gut. It was how I was feeling and I needed to hear it while I was in this black mood. At the same time my friend Vincent, who has his own music blog called Folk Yourself, had posted a Patty Griffin video on Facebook that I also had to stop and watch after reading a snippet of lyric he’d included in his post: “’every day i take a bitter pill that gets me on my way/for the little aches and pains, the ones i have from day to day/to help me think a little less about the things i miss/to help me not to wonder how I ended up like this.’ Patty Griffin knows exactly what to say.” Indeed, I thought, and immediately clicked PLAY and watched the video for “Useless Desires.” Another tune that hit its mark in the moment.

I decided I had to write my own version of these two songs. Something that summed up all I was feeling about missed opportunities and living this shell of a life I never saw coming. It was a quick outpouring of emotional images that made it to the page, but sometimes I do my best work that way, frankly. It’ll be a little while before I can objectively judge this one as any kind of stand-alone piece, worthy of being played before the masses for any stretch of time. For the moment, it serves its purpose as a cathartic piece, and that’s enough.

Musically it’s on track with my recent A-minor kick, however what I did that surprised me was I found a way to flip from the minor key back into the major key the minor came from (in this case, C) and give the chorus a bit of new life that way. This is hardly earth-shattering, and any music theorist worth their salt would probably say “duh” to this maneuver. However, for me music theory is like doing calculus (a subject I flunked and subsequently abandoned after one semester in high school), and it does NOT come naturally or easily, so anything I can do that’s remotely interesting that doesn’t involve me doing higher math to figure it out gets me excited. Even just using C as the second chord in the verse progression was kind of exciting for me, since I normally wouldn’t have thought of it or bothered with it. I was just kind of playing around, trying to break out of the mold of the chord progression I’d used in some of my other more recent songs in the same key, and I stumbled onto it and liked it. I also have to give myself medium props for hanging on both the Dm at the end of the second line of the verse, and the F at the end of the second line of the chorus, because my habit is definitely to put some other kind of transitional chord there. I mean, I’ve been lovingly accused by people, and I readily admit, that I have a tendency to be chord crazy. I think I’ve mentioned it here before, and have definitely made some strides in that department. I mean, did I not write a three-chord song two weeks ago? Yes, I did. So I know it can be done. I also know that sometimes it’s RIGHT to have more chords, or some variations on the same chords (like Csus and C7 in addition to C, etc). Then again, there are times when you just don’t need all that extra crap going on. Where if you let the chord hang for an extra moment, the melody really gets some breathing room, and that’s what happened here. And it was a conscious decision, so I really do have to give myself a tiny pat on the back here, for stepping outside my little box and trying something new. And liking it.

When I recorded the video my bedroom was about 120% relative humidity, and of course all fans and anything that would make a background hum were off. So it was tropical and uncomfortable, and my arms were sticking to the guitar, and the strings (which I recently changed, but which I think were old, and so they aren’t sounding or feeling as good as they should for being “new”) felt sticky as well, and it just wasn’t an enjoyable experience. I started out with a lot more dynamic play than I ended up with on the fourth take, which is the one that’s posted. There weren’t any outtakes that were worth including, as it was mostly me sighing and swearing and not in a comedic way. I’d just come home from an unsuccessful attempt at attending a friend’s CD release show, and I was angry and frustrated at having been thwarted by the STUPIDEST of obstacles, so I was hardly in a mood to be recording in the first place. The only reason I did it was because I figured I should get it done early and take advantage of my sister being out of the house. And of course, I wanted to get it done before my make-up melted off my face. But I was really riled up by the time I got to the fourth take and so I think it comes across as pretty one-note emotionally, and that’s not what I would have wanted in the ideal situation. Of course, the situation with these recordings is never the ideal situation, so I encourage you to come out to a show and catch this one live; I’ll definitely be including it in the set-list for a little while.

Meanwhile, if you’re a reader of this blog, do drop a line and let me know. It gets depressing when no one comments and you feel like you’re talking to thin air week after week…

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5 Responses to “Week Twenty-Two”

  1. Amir Thompson Says:

    The track reminds me of some song by another composer that I really liked . I can not remember which one :-\ does anyone happens to know which track I am referring to?

  2. newsongweekly Says:

    Ooh–I’m always curious to know stuff like this. I have no idea who it could be, but if you think of it please let me know! 🙂

  3. Kristen Says:

    I always feel bad liking the depressing songs, but I do. This is a good one.

  4. Week Twenty-Four « Kim Davidson: New Song Weekly Says:

    […] about summer, and then I got waylaid by this other idea, and went with it for the moment. That was “Wannabe,” if I recall correctly. “Perfect Summer Day” wasn’t quite finished in my mind, and honestly, […]

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