Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

It Gets Better

October 31, 2010

Hey there my long lost friends! Have you missed me? I’ve missed you! I honestly thought that I’d be way back into the swing of things by now, but it has just not panned out. I’m so proud of myself for making it halfway through the year though, and as much as I’d have loved to have pushed through for all 52 weeks, I will not allow myself to view what I HAVE accomplished as anything less than a triumph. I wrote 28 songs this year! Who cares if Tim Riordan did that in February alone? LOL.

Actually, I wrote 29 songs this year if you include the one that I’m posting now. It seems fitting that I was brought out of the whirlwind of my life for the sake of writing THIS particular song, because it was written in support of such an important cause: the It Gets Better Project, which is part of The Trevor Project.

Like so many of us I have been heartbroken to hear of all the teen suicides that have happened in recent months. I have had a pretty easy time of things in my life, and I cannot imagine how horrible it must be to go through each day being harassed by people just for being yourself. I know that I THOUGHT my life was rough in my teen years WITHOUT that kind of pressure. My heart goes out to the families of those who took their own lives, and to all those who continue to suffer, wishing and waiting for it all to go away.

I have been moved and proud of the videos I have watched by people like Tim Gunn, Kathy Griffin, Mary Gauthier and Joel Burns just to name a few. I was inspired to create my own video message, to become part of the collective standing behind the LGBTQI community during this chaotic time in our nation’s history. As I was contemplating what I would say, I realized that I needed to write a song. After all, that is what I do. Once that idea occurred to me, the song came pretty quickly. That’s usually a good sign. I had a gig earlier this evening where I played the song live for the first time, to test the waters so to speak. The response was amazing, and I came right home and recorded my video. I hope you enjoy it. I hope it inspires you to make your own video in support of this important cause.

I love the story behind The Trevor Project. It all began with a group of filmmakers who created a film about a suicidal gay teen. As the movie was being prepped to air on HBO they decided they wanted to include a hotline that could be shown on screen during broadcast, for any teens that found themselves in similar circumstances and needed help. What they discovered was that no such hotline existed. So they created one. They founded The Trevor Project and The Trevor Lifeline, “the first and only nationwide, around-the-clock crisis and suicide prevention lifeline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.” Isn’t that amazing? I love it.

So please take a few minutes to check out the video and the song. If you’re moved to share it, please do. And if you’re one of the many people out there feeling helpless and alone, please know that you are NOT alone. And help is available. Check out www.theTrevorProject.org for more info.

Freeze-Frame!

July 21, 2010

Well, my little blog-followers, the time has come. Perhaps you saw this coming long before I recognized that it had to happen. I think I was in denial.

New Song Weekly is taking a little break. Nobody panic. Just a LITTLE one. I’m two songs behind (or about to be when Friday rolls around) and I’m realizing that in the next two days I will simply not be able to finish two songs, get them recorded AND posted, while also practicing for a very special gig I have this Friday night, which is part of a weekend away, which piggy-backs into a family function on Sunday.

I’ve stressed all week about catching up, while also trying to work as many hours as I can (weddings are expensive! Even when they’re not yours), and I’ve suddenly been forced to realize something very important: I am only human. I have no super powers of stamina or time management. I can only do and worry about so many things at one time, and while my commitment to this project is deep, I cannot let it take precedence over my health or sanity. This week I have felt like I’m fast approaching a major breakdown–and it’s only Tuesday. Needless to say, something has to take a back seat in the short term, and this is it.

Don’t worry. I will be back before you know it, and I will have a song for each week that I missed (hopefully not very many). I think by next week I’ll be back on track. You’ll hardly notice I’m gone.

So thanks for stopping by, thanks for listening every week and taking the time to comment and message me. I really appreciate it, and I look forward to beginning our exchange again very soon. In the meantime, enjoy your summers, hit the beach (something I have yet to do), have something frosty to drink, take your kids to the zoo, and KEEP COOL!

I’ll see you in a couple weeks!

~ Kim xoxoxo

Week Fifteen

April 16, 2010

I’d Rather Leave You Now
By Kim Davidson
© 2010

GIRL: Lately it’s like you and I are strangers
I try to connect, but I seem to miss the mark
BOY: We go through the motions, and sometimes it’s all right
But I don’t think it’s a good sign, that it takes so much work
And I keep hoping you’ll make me feel needed
Like back when things were new, and I was so sure of you
GIRL: And I keep hoping you’ll stop pulling back when we get close
‘Cause I know what’ll happen if we keep heading down this road…

CHORUS (BOTH): I’d rather leave you now… than find myself hating you
For all the stupid things we can’t get past, although we’re trying to
If it’s only gonna get worse from here on out…
I would rather leave you now.

BOY: Suddenly nothing I do or say is right
I want to understand, I want to prove myself to you
BOTH: Every conversation spirals down into a fight
GIRL: I don’t know how we got so lost, and I don’t know what to do
BOTH: ‘Cause there was a time when all we did was laugh
GIRL: And sleeping wasn’t what we did when we went to bed
BOY: I hate to think that everything that’s good is in the past
When I used to be excited about all that lay ahead…

CHORUS (BOTH): I’d rather leave you now… than find myself hating you
For all the stupid things we can’t get past, although we’re trying to
If it’s only gonna get worse from here on out…
I would rather leave you now

BRIDGE: GIRL: I’ve never been the type to quit and walk away…
BOY: I don’t want to walk away…
GIRL: But that alone isn’t reason enough for either of us to stay…
BOY: So give me a reason to stay…

CHORUS (BOTH): Or I’d rather leave you now… than find myself hating you
For all the stupid things we can’t get past, although we’re trying to
If it’s only gonna get worse from here on out…
I would rather leave you now.
I would rather leave you now.

So this was the song I was all excited about last week where I couldn’t get all the details hammered out in time. Anytime you add another person into the mix it becomes a whole new animal. Funny how just the addition of ONE person can change the equation so much.

But Ryan was totally game, and I was psyched because he’s really got the sound I was looking for: full and rich and a bit of a southern twang. As he laughingly put it, “The fake country accent that I have when I sing.” I have me one of those, so I can totally relate. It happens.

What we had working against us was time, of course. Being the fabulous people we are, we are both incredibly busy, so finding a time where we were both available was the tricky part. That time turned out to be about 10:00 in the morning. For musicians, that is the crack of dawn. Not the best or easiest time to be wailing at the top of your range, but that’s what we were stuck with, so we made it work as best we could. Needless to say there was coffee involved.

It was a fun morning though, because Ryan has this awesome English Springer Spaniel named Gus, and Gus and I really fell in love with each other. You’ll catch sight of him a couple times in the video outtakes. He was pushing the music stand around at one point, out of frame, and we couldn’t stop laughing. He was completely adorable and if he’d been smaller, I might have snuck him out of there in my purse. You’ll notice you can see a music stand in the video. After a couple takes of us bending over and squinting at the lyrics (I shoulda used a bigger font!) I decided to shatter the illusion and just let the stand be visible. There were actually two stands, but Ryan has a cooler one than I do, and he could tilt his back and adjust it out of frame more easily than I could. I guess that’s what happens when you work at The Music Emporium. The other factor is that I was taking advantage of the forced perspective technique I’d learned from watching all the bonus features on the “Lord of the Rings” DVDS, so I was farther from the camera than he was, and therefore so was my stand. Which made it harder to hide.

So this being my first ever male-female duet, there was a bit of a learning curve for me. I think my approach might be different in the future. It’s amazing how much the different timbres of voice can change the way a song sounds. For example, in trying to see if the song would even work, I made two recordings. First I made one just of the basic melody, all the way through. So I sang both parts in my own register. When I sang the first pre-chorus from “Like back when things were new, and I was so sure of you” into “And I keep hoping you’ll stop pulling back when we get close” in my register, it sounded like the melody was coming down, which was the opposite of what I really was going for. However, when I sang the male half down an octave (trying to sound like a guy—which was pretty awful, and you’ll never hear that recording), the female part then sounded like it was going up when it came in. So it was interesting to me to hear that.

Of course, being a chick I really don’t know the parameters of men’s voices the way maybe I should have before setting out to write a song with parts for both. This is where my relative lack of music theory bites me in the ass. Ryan was such a good sport though—and I really had him singing every inch of his range, from low to high. And at 10:00 in the morning. THANK YOU, RYAN! You made the song, and I owe you a beer.

So that’s my first duet. There just may be more to come…

Week Fourteen

April 9, 2010

All These Things
By Kim Davidson
(c) 2010

There’s a tricycle in the driveway, that’s faded in the rain
And a skateboard under a t-shirt that bears an oil stain
By a broken swing-set in the corner of the weary yard
That’s full of useless junk you couldn’t bring yourself to discard

Dolls in threadbare dresses, and the palest pink lamp shade
One lone skate with broken lace and rust upon the blade
A baseball bat that’s splintered from its years of wrongful use
A diary that’s smeared with tears and stories of abuse

CHORUS: The kids moved out ten years ago
They’re seven states away
It couldn’t be clearer, could it, what they have to say?
The house that never felt like home, now seems to sag in shame
And all these things remain… all these things remain

Toys and books and records never were quite a fair trade
For the lashes and the filthy worded memories he made
You hold on to bits of shattered glass within a crooked frame
Cause you’ll never see again the ones who share your name

CHORUS: The kids moved out ten years ago
They’re seven states away
It couldn’t be clearer, could it, what they have to say?
The house that never felt like home, now seems to sag in shame
And all these things remain… all these things remain

BRIDGE: No one came to mourn him when he passed
No one offered you their sympathy
There’s far too many scars for you to outlast
No forgiveness now that you are free

You sit on a creaking chair, drink from an old chipped cup
There’s no one left who holds you dear, who wouldn’t give you up
You may have been a victim yourself as much as them
But you still kept him at your side, for that you’ve been condemned

CHORUS: The kids moved out ten years ago
They’re seven states away
It couldn’t be clearer, could it, what they have to say?
The house that never felt like home, now seems to sag in shame
And all these things remain… all these things remain

Talk about writing by the skin of my nose… Here’s what happened this week. Actually, it started at the end of last week. Shortly after posting last week’s song, I had a Muse drive-by and within moments had a great song idea flow out of my head and onto the page. I was excited because it put me ahead of the game, and also because the recording process would force a necessary twist, and I am definitely trying to shake things up where I can so nobody gets bored.

The twist required the talents of another person, so I set about finding the right person. Somewhere around Wednesday of THIS week I learned that this person wouldn’t be available in time to get the song recorded for this week’s installment. Crap. Now I had to write another song within 24 hours if I was going to keep to my regular deadline (or at least get close).

So I kinda pulled this one out of my ass. I admit it. Well, I had the idea a few weeks back actually. That is to say I had the idea to do a list type song and have it be connected somehow through all of the possessions “left behind” by someone. So I had that theme ready to go. But there wasn’t a song at all, and now there needed to be.

I realize now that this is exactly the kind of song I easily fall back into, the way you fall into the familiar coziness of your own bed after traveling. Dark, disturbing, depressing… I’m laughing as I type it, because it’s insane, but I go there very naturally and have a sick affection for it. That’s why so many of my songs have had that kind of feel over the years. This year, as I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve made a conscious effort to write more uplifting or inspiring lyrics, and to also get away from writing about myself. Well, I accomplished one of those things this week. The other one, not so much. It’s okay. I am still allowed to write dark songs. They have their audience.

What was interesting about this one was how it evolved. I sort of had the title/tag line already in mind, and I had the idea of it being childhood relics that were left behind, but I really didn’t know where else it was going to go. It went way darker than I’d originally thought, but that’s what happens when you’re in a hurry–at least if you’re me. So I got all these images down and then I realized that the story was way out of order. This isn’t that uncommon, honestly. A large percentage of the time you write your second verse first, without necessarily meaning to. It’s just that the meat of things is what draws you in and gets you started, and then you have to create a first verse that leads you there, and a third verse (or a bridge) that wraps everything up. This was even beyond that… I finished the initial draft and then spent several minutes cutting and pasting and rearranging until I found the true progression that made linear as well as emotional sense. I don’t think I’ve ever done it to the degree I did it this week. Interesting.

At any rate, it was done quickly, and that can be good or bad. Sometimes when you are up against it you end up writing very cleanly and efficiently because subconsciously you know you have to, and so you’re in edit mode right from the start and it’s great. Other times you just end up with a crappy first draft that you know you’re gonna want to fix sooner rather than later. This is maybe somewhere in between for me. I don’t know. I guess it depends on ultimately what kind of song I want it to be. I could take it in one direction and really flesh out the story specifically; or I could leave it as is, which is basically an emotional imprint that you can ruminate on and come to a determination about later.

At any rate, it’s done. And better late than never, the blog is posted. And that’s enough for me at the end of a crazy busy week.

The KD NSW 2010 Quarterly Challenge!

April 5, 2010

So I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pretty stoked to have made it through the first quarter of the year successfully. So stoked that I decided to celebrate–with a little contest. I mean, with all the effort that goes into this project, we might as well have a little FUN, eh?

So here’s the deal: Below you will find a list of 20 questions. All of the answers are right here in the blog. Some will be in the narrative, and some will be in the videos. Yes, I’m desperately trying to trick more people into watching these things (and doing the reading) in the hopes that it will get me a better place in Search-Engine-Land. Also, I think you’ll enjoy yourselves. I do. The outtakes alone are worth the price of admission, in my opinion. I can laugh at myself. But so can you–you can laugh at me, too. I encourage it.

Okay, so between now and April 30th, check out the videos and the blog, and answer the questions. Send your completed questionnaire to me by April 30th. Then on May 15th, all CORRECT questionnaires will be thrown into a hat and three lucky people will win some fabulous prizes. As Jeff Probst would say, “Wanna know what you’re playing for?”

  • First of all, everyone who sends me a completed questionnaire will get a free digital copy of the first quarter (January through March) NSW CD (tentative release date, May 15th).
  • Additionally, one local winner will receive a gift certificate for a one-hour muscular therapy treament ($80.00 value) with Darre Goulding Halloran, LNCMT, whose office is in Brookline, MA. Darre’s specialty is deep tissue massage for chronic pain relief and injuries; she also does relaxation massage to decrease stress and anxiety. I’m already jealous of whoever wins.
  • A second local winner will receive a 5-class card ($60.00 value) from Green Tea Yoga in Salem, MA. This is a fantastic yoga studio with classes for everyone, including children.
  • One national winner will receive a $20.00 gift certificate (plus $5.00 for shipping) and a gift basket containing 4 large soaps and a box of bath salts, all in their choice of scents from 4 Sisters Soaps. Ellen and her girls offer a great variety from the straightforward to the whimsical, and every soap is “handmade with laughter and love.”
  • “Worth playing for?” I think so! And all of the prizes were donated by friends of mine who are independent business owners—how cool is that? I’m so lucky to have such generous friends!

    So copy the questions below into a Word doc or whatever, and get busy finding the answers. And feel free to pass this on to your friends. The more the merrier! When you’re finished, e-mail your answers to: kimdavidson@gmail.com.

    KD NSW 2010 Quarterly Challenge

    1. Which week(s) had the wrong number displayed in the opening credits?

    2. Which week(s) did NOT have outtakes?

    3. How many times did Kim wear a black shirt?

    4. Which person did Kim NOT link to from her blog: Madeleine L’Engle; Susan Levine; Rob Laurens; Joshua Radin?

    5. Which song was inspired by a book?

    6. How many videos were shot in Kim’s bedroom?

    7. How many songs were rewritten/reshot?

    8. Who is “My Life In Pictures” about?

    9. How many times did Kim swear in the outtakes?

    10. How many times did Kim talk about her hair in the outtakes?

    11. What date is crossed off on the calendar during the opening credits?

    12. Who is Alejandro?

    13. Under what circumstances does Kim do her best writing?

    14. What day is Kim’s weekly writing day?

    15. What day is New Song Weekly posted each week?

    16. Which song was not technically a part of New Song Weekly?

    17. Who shot the photo used under the closing credits?

    18. Who shot the photo used in the opening credits, under the “New Song Weekly” logo?

    19. Which song shares a title with singer/songwriter Michael Kisur?

    20. How much fun did you have answering all these questions?!

    I’ll Take it With a Grain of Salt

    April 2, 2010

    Since this week’s edition of New Song Weekly is not going to be posted until Saturday (we had some technical issues with the video and couldn’t schedule a reshoot until Friday night), I thought I’d take some time to just blog about something songwritery in the interim.

    Earlier this week I attended my first local NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) meeting. I’d been invited by a friend, and was curious to see in what ways this group might differ from the regular song-writing group I already attend. It did differ in that it included a writing exercise, and discussion of the exercise, with those willing to share with the group offering up whatever they’d come up with in the brief time we’d had to do the exercise. I did not feel comfortable sharing, but others did, and it was interesting to see how different people had interpreted the exercise, and where their creativity took them. After that it was pretty much the same as my other group, meaning people took turns playing material and having it critiqued by the group. The only difference here is that I did not know everyone in this group yet, so it was a bit more nerve-wracking in a sense because I was playing cold in front of strangers in a very intimate setting. It’s also hard to take a critique from someone whose work you are unfamiliar with. Does that sound weird? I don’t know if it SHOULD be this way, but for me I can’t just take an unqualified opinion as gospel. If Diane Warren or Gretchen Peters gives me song-writing advice, I’m gonna be all over it, no questions asked. But someone I’ve just met, whose own songs I’ve never heard… Well, how can you trust someone’s opinion blindly like that? Making the situation even more interesting was the fact that I went first. I sang “Going Home,” which was last week’s song. And then everyone gave me their feedback—some of which I agreed with, and some I’m still processing and not quite convinced of.

    And here’s where I was setting myself up to land, which is with a blog about song-writing groups in general. Because I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with them, and I think that’s actually the right attitude, and I need to vent about it a little. First, let’s just put the obvious problem right out in the open: everyone in the world has their own opinion, and at any given moment, whatever you are doing, you are not going to be pleasing EVERYBODY. So no matter what, no matter how good your song is, SOMEONE is going to not like it. Granted, if you’re in a room with ten people and nine of them like what you’ve done, you’re probably just going to decide that one person is not worth worrying about. But it’s not always such a landslide. Which brings us to obvious problem #2—and really this is the big one: if you ask people to listen specifically with the assigned task of offering feedback after the fact, they are going to listen critically. And that changes EVERYTHING, let’s face it. If the whole point is to find a flaw, then you’re going to find one. Because that’s your objective. Because that’s how you’re going to “help” that songwriter. That’s how they will “learn and grow.” And all of that is true, don’t get me wrong; but there can be a point where it becomes ridiculous.

    Mind you, hearing feedback is optional. It is. You can ALWAYS say, “Ya know, I just wanna play this, but I really don’t want to hear anything critical tonight.” You can say, “I don’t wanna hear my baby is ugly tonight, thanks anyway.” And it’s okay. Everyone in the room gets it because everyone in the room has felt that way. Or you can say, “I’m really digging the lyrics, but I’d love some feedback on the melody in the chorus.” You can be that specific. And that’s what everyone will offer feedback on. And it’s a beautiful thing. Sometimes we want feedback just to confirm something we already know, but are having trouble accepting. Yes, that chorus really does need to vary a lot more from the verse to be interesting. Yes, changing that word is probably going to make the song better. Ah, I thought so.

    Sometimes feedback and constructive criticism are essential tools in helping to unlock creative blocks you didn’t even know you were having. If you’re open to what’s being said, and respect the people saying it, then you can really take your work to the next level.

    Then again…

    Look, here’s the thing—and this goes back to the “listening critically” thing: not every song is meant to be immediately understood. What I mean to say is that not every song is a cut and dried story where you can follow a linear thread from start to finish. Not everyone writes that way, and thank God. But it’s problematic in a situation like a song-writing group meeting. Like a fine wine, some songs need time on your palate—which might mean two or three listens over the course of a week, or month, or year. God, I’ve been listening to and loving “Behind Blue Eyes” by The Who for the better part of my life, and I STILL found something new in that song last year when I was in the midst of a personal Hell. It resonated differently because my life experience had changed and I could interpret it in a new way. Now that’s the extreme, of course. I’m not suggesting that anyone invest 20-odd years into trying to wrap their brain around one of my songs. But sometimes our initial gut reaction is more important than our initial analytical reaction. And when you’re in a song-writing group, you’re more often than not listening from a highly analytical place, and the gut reaction can be overwhelmed by that. And so you jump in with all these comments and suggestions because it’s your job, and then you hear the song out at that person’s gig a month later and you fall in love with it—even though nothing has been changed. Because you’re listening emotionally. And that’s far preferable in my book.

    I don’t need everyone to understand every single nuance of my songs on first listen. Sometimes they will, and that’s great. But sometimes they won’t, and that’s okay too. If they feel something, even if they aren’t sure what or why, then the song is doing its job. And if on further listens (and let’s face it, we want you to want to keep listening) they discover something deeper, then Hallelujah. I don’t think everything has to be explained all at once. I like a little mystery. I like the listener to have the option to choose sometimes what exactly the song is about.

    But many song-writing organizations push you to be as specific as you can, and include more details, etc. And I think there are songs that need that. But not EVERY song. Sometimes an impression, something a little more vague and abstract, can have far more impact because you can make it YOUR story. And sometimes it’s just more fun.

    I like both kinds of songs, and there’s certainly room for both in this world. But I think sometimes when we offer feedback we get very tied into the advice we’re used to hearing from the song-writing world at large, and so we leave our gut out of it and become clinicians. And that’s a double-edged sword.

    I also think there’s a bit of ego that can be involved. A bit of “Hey, check me out. I am so cool I can critique YOU.” And I’m just as guilty, by the way. Everything I’m saying here is true for me when I’m the one giving the feedback as well. These are traps we all fall into. But because I know that, I take all feedback with a couple grains of salt. And I also recognize (as we all do) that the luxury of the peer feedback model is that it’s the songwriter’s prerogative at any given time to simply say, “Nah!” and go about their business with their song as is. You’re not forced to agree with anyone, or to take anyone’s advice. Even if everyone in the room agrees about what you should change or fix, they can’t make you change or fix it, and that’s as it should be. Of course, you want to be in a place where you can really HEAR the feedback and take it in and decide not to use it from a place of intelligence and heart, and not from a place of defensiveness or sheer bruised ego. But in the end if you just don’t agree, you win. You really always win. It’s just that sometimes you have to wade through the loss of confidence that can come from a dizzying feedback session where everyone has SOMETHING for you to “fix.” I refrained from using the word “negative” there, because I find that everyone I’ve encountered goes out of their way to be positive and helpful and not beat anybody down. But it can still sometimes feel that way in the end. Especially if you liked what you had going on before hearing the feedback. It can make you question everything, and that can be challenging—because there is no right or wrong in the end.

    And here’s the REAL kicker: even if you’re being groomed to write a so-called “hit” the formula can be imperfect. Following it can still not help you, and NOT following it can still get you where you need to go. So what incentive, really, is there to ever listen to anybody?

    Here’s my favorite example of a song I consider to be SO flawed, which was a huge hit: “Back at One” by Brian McKnight. It hit #2 on the charts in 1999, and I can’t even listen to it because it makes me crazy. Because after you get handed a bunch of critiques about things needing to make “sense” and clarifying and whatnot, when a song like this gets through with no one batting an eye, it can make you downright bonkers. What’s wrong with the song? It’s in the chorus. I’ve had this discussion with many people and they’ve never noticed. These are the same people who dance their first dance to “I Will Always Love You” at their weddings, even though it’s a song about leaving. Because for most people listening to music is an emotional event, and not about analyzing (or even knowing) all the lyrics. How else would www.kissthisguy.com exist? Back to “Back at One.”

    Okay, are you ready? Here it is. The chorus:

    “One… you’re like a dream come true…
    Two… just wanna be with you…
    Three… girl it’s plain to see… that you’re the only one for me…
    Four… repeat steps one through three…
    Five… make you fall in love with me…
    If ever I believe my work is done… then I start back at one (yeah)”

    What’s wrong with that, Kim? It’s sweet! Let me break it down for you, it’s THIS line that makes me want to scream: “Four… repeat steps one through three…”

    Uh… WHAT?! Those are STEPS?! “You’re like a dream come true” is a STEP? IN WHAT UNIVERSE? It’s a declaration, to be sure. It’s a nice thing for your boyfriend to say to you. It’s not a step of any kind.

    What makes me REALLY mad (and I say “mad” and not “angry” intentionally, because there’s absolutely an insanity component to how I react to this song) is how EASY it would have been to MAKE those first three items actual steps. Think about it, “One… I’ll say I love you every day… Two… I’ll always let you have your way…” Okay, that’s a terrible lyric, but you see my point. This song made Brian McKnight a lot of money, I have no doubt. And while he was raking it in I was getting critiques from TAXI that made my blood boil. Because it was semantics sometimes and I just couldn’t handle the hypocrisy.

    So there’s a perfect example of a song that made it “anyway.” If I’d been in a song-writing group with Brian McKnight, I’d have called him on that for sure. My point is, it didn’t make a damn bit of difference to the rest of the world. As flawed as I feel that chorus is—as NONSENSICAL as it ultimately is—people played it and played it and played it. So it’s all about grains of salt in the end.

    Then you have someone like Neko Case. I LOVE her. I almost never know what the hell she’s talking about, but that’s part of the allure. She paints dark and haunting emotional pictures with bits of story that you can infer and internalize at your discretion. And I love her because she said this (in an interview with Julianne Shepherd at www.thestranger.com): “I hope I can comfort people a bit—maybe show people that making music is fun and accessible to them as well. I’m not out to become Faith Hill, I never want to play an arena, and I never want to be on the MTV Video Music Awards, much less make a video with me in it. I would like to reach a larger audience and see the state of music change in favor of musicians and music fans in my lifetime. I care very much about that.” It doesn’t have much to do with what we’re talking about, but I stumbled across it and think it’s fantastic.

    And it did get me thinking that part of the problem is that song-writing groups consist of people writing for different genres, with different goals; and different rules apply to each market and situation. I mean, yes, if Neko wants a song on country radio, then she’s going to need a different approach. But she just said it. She doesn’t want to be Faith Hill. But if someone thinks she DOES want to be, how will that influence their feedback on her material? Hm. Even more salt.

    Then again, how about a song like “I Am the Walrus?” Hardly obscure or fringy in the way Neko might be considered to be. Still getting airplay over 40 years later. But what the hell is THAT song about? Okay, there are classes you can take to analyze the music of the Beatles. And yes, you can read up on Wikipedia right now and find out exactly what the song is about. But personally, I don’t know beyond the vague acid trip references I’ve heard over time. I’ve never bothered to research it. Because I don’t CARE. It makes no difference to my enjoyment of the song to understand it. And it’s a pop song. And these days some would have you believe a pop song has to be very accessible and relatable and clear-cut, etc. And to that I say, “I Am the Walrus.” And shut up.

    Week Eleven

    March 19, 2010

    Still In Love
    By Kim Davidson
    (c) 2010

    Up a tree-lined drive they ride… leaving the steeple behind…
    Humbled and quiet, grateful and tired, wrapped up in love
    New things and old, some borrowed and blue
    They stood in front of everyone they ever knew
    And promised themselves to each other… and God above

    CHORUS: And mem’ry rains down like confetti
    From a day overflowing, and fading too fast…
    But there’s something thrilling in knowing
    That all that you’ve dreamed of has come to pass…
    They’re in love… so in love… still in love.

    Wispy blonde hair on a tiny head… in a clear bassinet by a hospital bed
    They decide on a name, and they won’t be the same, after this…
    And it wasn’t easy, this mountain they climbed
    With three babies gone, then the anguish of one final try
    And nine months and 22 hours ends with a kiss…

    CHORUS: And joy rains down like confetti
    From a day overflowing, and fading too fast…
    But there’s something thrilling in knowing
    That all that you’ve dreamed of has come to pass…
    They’re in love… so in love… still in love.

    BRIDGE: And time moves along like a river, rushing sometimes and then stand- ing still…
    They sometimes wish it could move backwards, but oh… it never will…

    And quick as the bloom of a rose… that tiny baby’s all grown…
    She brings home a man, and they shake his hand, and they smile
    And at that same church where they wed long ago
    She stands in front of everyone she’s ever known
    And happy tears fall as they witness the vows of their child

    CHORUS: And mem’ry rains down like confetti
    From a day overflowing, and fading too fast…
    But there’s something thrilling in knowing
    That all that you’ve dreamed of has come to pass…
    They’re in love… so in love… still in love.
    They’re in love… so in love… still in love

    This week was really hard. I was coming off a week of frenzied activity and busyness, which ended on a serious emotional high the night before, and left me crashing on Tuesday morning. I was just TIRED. I was in good enough spirits, or so I thought, and I went to Friday’s and even had the good fortune to be waited on by Alejandro again (he didn’t remember me, but it didn’t diminish the experience on my end at all), but somehow I just felt… off. Out of sorts in an inexplicable way that potstickers wasn’t going to cure.

    I didn’t have much in the way of song ideas, which might have been part of it. I’d gone to open mic at the Lizard Lounge the night before and came away with the word “bullet,” courtesy of a Dan Blakeslee number. On the ride home I tossed around the line “He flies in like a bullet and shatters everything I know.” That was my jumping off point for my writing this week, but it wasn’t getting me very far.

    Actually, that’s not entirely true. It got me about halfway into a song that I just couldn’t “feel.” Since I didn’t feel that line was a tag line, I was kind of going in blind and hoping a song would just present itself out of that image, but it wasn’t really happening. So I stopped. Got out my little DVR and flipped through all 18 or so tracks that were currently on it. Transcribed whatever snatches of lyrics I’d sung to myself, and took stock. Some of what was there was the past two weeks’ songs, which was funny, if not useful. At any rate, the one that jumped out as being something I could maybe work with was an idea that I got from listening to Joshua Radin’s “Today,” which begins “Shoelaces untied…” Those two words caught me and dragged me right in and I thought, “Man, I have to start writing more stuff like THAT. More descriptive and out of left field. Less let’s-start-every-song-with-a-pronoun. And what immediately popped into my head (and got sung into my DVR) was “Up a tree-lined drive they ride.” It just seemed to me a great beginning to something. I even thought maybe it would be a wedding song, because Joshua’s song had me thinking, “Maybe I’ll play that at my wedding someday,” and also who doesn’t want to write a good wedding song if they can come up with one?

    So that was the lyric that I gravitated toward, sitting in Friday’s, agonizing over making the most of this one day I have available for just writing, with no other distractions. I got the first couple lines down and found that I wasn’t particularly satisfied with them. After a few moments I realized I was judging the song. That’s what I had been doing with the first song I attempted as well. And that’s not my job. All I’m meant to do is write it down and sing it. I did pause and wonder for a moment where the difference is in “editing” versus “judging,” because obviously my job IS to edit what I do until it is the best that it can be, and so what is the difference? I think for my money, editing is allowing yourself to keep thinking after you might consider you’re “done.” Allowing yourself to continue pursuing better possibilities until you really feel like the song makes the most sense and tells the closest truth it can. Judging goes something like, “Well that’s TERRIBLE. I totally have no business songwriting if this is the best I can come up with. Why do I bother? I’m a complete HACK.” I think it’s clear that judging is entirely counterproductive to any kind of productive creative process.

    Once I realized I was doing that it did get quite a bit easier. After all, I reminded myself, how many times had I thought I’d written a terrible song only to have a bunch of people tell me they LOVE it? And how many times had I written a song I thought was awesome, just to hear some people go “meh” when they heard it? Exactly. We just can’t judge our own stuff. Very rarely do we actually have a handle on it with any kind of perspective—at least not right off the bat. So I fleshed out a first draft and headed home. Over the next twenty-four hours I refined a bit, added some chords, changed some chords, changed some words, and here we are. Finished song. Whew.

    What I like about it, if I may be so bold, is that there was room for some guitar work that I don’t typically do. Like the little walk-up I do in the chorus. I’m pretty proud of that, actually. It’s not inventive or genius or anything, it’s just a stretch for ME, and so I like it. I also feel like this is a departure for me in a sense, and that I’ve written a song that sounds kind of like something a certain close friend songwriter might write. I’m not going to name names because that’s not quite fair to either one of us, but if anyone else were to ever compare us I’d be BEYOND flattered, so let’s just leave it at that.

    By the way, for those following the whole Madeleine L’Engle song saga, you may have noticed that Léna Roy did pop in and listen. She was kind enough to leave a comment, but she also sent me a lovely reply to the e-mail I sent her, and told me that if it were up to her it would be fine because she thinks it IS a nice nod to the book, but she suggested that I check with her grandmother’s agents just to be sure. As it’s a different medium, she wasn’t entirely sure what the rules were either. So I sent a letter off to the agents, and am awaiting their response. Hopefully I won’t be told I need to remove it from the blog. I guess we’ll just see.

    One Little Rhyme

    February 25, 2010

    While we’re in Revision Land, I decided to make a tiny adjustment to my Timmy Riordan song as well. I liked the challenge of writing a song without any rhymes in it; unfortunately, I feel like the tag line gets kind of lost in the shuffle. Perhaps down the road I’ll find a melody or different supportive structure around it to not need to add a rhyme. For the moment I wanted to try simply rhyming ONE line with the tag line to see if it helped it pop. I think it does. It’s a step in the right direction, at least.

    EVEN THE STARS LIE (REVISED)
    By Kim Davidson
    © 2010

    I’m lying here in our bed all alone
    And you called to say that you’d be working late
    And I’m trying not to let my mind go wanderin’ too far
    But this is something I’ve been hiding from for far too long

    They’re all piling up the little hints that I’ve ignored
    The scent of perfume I don’t wear in the laundry
    The phone rings late at night, but there’s no one on the line
    Unless the office calls for you to come back in

    CHORUS:
    Oh it’s so hard to pretend with my intuition screaming
    As I stand outside and look up to the stars
    And I wonder gazing at the shining lights twinkling above
    How many of these glimmers sources died out long ago?
    You ask me to trust and to put my faith in you
    Against all odds and evidence, well I can try…
    But you are just a man… so how can I take you at your word when even the stars lie?

    And I can’t go back… to that time of innocence
    To that blind belief I always had in you
    So I must decide if I can live with less than what was promised
    Or trust myself enough to walk away

    CHORUS:
    And it’s so hard to pretend with my intuition screaming
    As I stand outside and look up to the stars
    And I wonder gazing at the shining lights twinkling above
    How many of these glimmers sources died out long ago?
    You ask me to trust and to put my faith in you
    Against all odds and evidence, well I can try…
    But you are just a man… so how can I take you at your word when even the stars lie?

    Save the Puppy!

    February 25, 2010

    Well, this is kind of exciting actually. Because this is a songwriting blog, it’s perfectly allowable (according to the powers-that-be, namely ME) to break up the weekly format with a little bit of additional info on any given song at any given time. This week brings my first New Song Weekly revision. Here’s how it went down:

    I belong to this songwriting group that meets once a month. I actually haven’t been to a meeting in a few months, but now that NSW is up and running, there’s plenty of stuff for me to bring to the group, so I went to the meeting last weekend and brought “Snow Globe.” I was feeling a little cocky, I admit it. I thought it was a pretty good song and I wasn’t expecting there to be much for anyone to dissect too deeply. But I should have realized the emotional impact the mention of a mere puppy could have.

    Oh my God—you would think I’d sacrificed a live puppy then and there! It was ALL about the puppy. WHAT happened to the puppy? Why was this poor little puppy out alone in the cold? It distracted EVERYBODY and there was no getting away from it. My cute little plot device had the completely opposite effect from what I expected. To my credit (yes, I am patting myself on the back here—it’s my blog, I can do that) I immediately recognized that everyone was completely right and I had done the song (and the imaginary puppy) a disservice. I didn’t need to put an innocent little puppy into fake danger. I had written about a snow storm, after all. There was plenty of opportunity to create the scenario that would bring sexy, tow-truck-driving Alejandro back into the mix.

    So I mulled it over and retooled the bridge and saved the puppy, and I think it’s definitely a better song and story because of it. There was also some resistance to the word “hot” in the second half of the first verse… it just didn’t quite seem to fit to some people. I’m not one-hundred percent sold on losing it, only because it’s very “me” and very descriptive of the actual, real-life Alejandro, and it’s the artist’s prerogative to take the group’s advice and not utilize it. However, for the sake of argument I thought I’d try a new word on for size. So that’s in there, too. I like it. It grows on me a little more with each listen. We’ll see what happens when I start playing it out live.

    What do you guys think? I noticed my listens were way down last week compared to previous weeks. I wonder if distress over the puppy factored in? If so, hopefully you’ll find the new version a more repeat-play-worthy tune. Enjoy!

    SNOW GLOBE (REVISED)
    By Kim Davidson
    (c) 2010

    I can smell it coming in the air. The snow that I’ve been waiting for is almost here
    As I step outside the office, heading for a local restaurant
    I’m alone so I sit at the bar, beside a man so chiseled he could be a movie star
    We share a friendly toast, read our menus, deciding what we want

    CHORUS: And there atop the bar is a snow globe
    Tiny figures walking through a tiny town
    Lost in my imagination, I shake it hard and fast
    And all the glittered snow starts coming down
    And you can laugh if you’re so inclined
    But I am in the snow globe in my mind.

    The man beside me turns to me and smiles. His name is Alejandro and he’s lived here for a while
    But he still has an accent, sexy as his dark brown hair
    We talk over dinner and some wine. And when we both walk out, he goes his way, I go mine
    But I can’t stop the feeling, there is magic in the air.

    CHORUS: And at home on the mantel is a snow globe
    Tiny figures walking through a tiny town
    Lost in my imagination, I shake it hard and fast
    And all the glittered snow starts coming down
    And you can laugh if you’re so inclined
    But I am in the snow globe in my mind.

    I wake up and the world has turned to white. A fluffy blanket covers all that I see far and wide.
    So I dig out my car and make my way slowly down the street.
    The world is quiet, no one is around. And snow flies at my windshield on its journey to the ground
    I’m rejoicing in the cold, in the winter sky between the naked trees

    CHORUS: And through the window it looks like the snow globe
    Everything is frozen like that tiny town
    And in my imagination someone’s turned us on our heads
    And all the glittered snow is coming down
    And you can laugh if you’re so inclined
    But I am in the snow globe in my mind

    BRIDGE: Just then a hidden patch of ice throws me off my course
    My tires slip and make no claim, braking makes it worse
    I steer as best I can, panic making my moves swift
    The car is moving sideways til it spins
    And slides
    And lands
    Right in a giant snow drift….

    I’m not hurt, but I am stuck for sure.
    It’s inconvenient, yes, but not the worst I could endure. So I call AAA, and listen to the radio and wait.
    They get there in a half hour or so. And who’s behind the wheel, but dark and sexy Alejandro
    And who can really say? Is it coincidence or is it Fate?

    CHORUS: And standing in the street feels like the snow globe
    Like we’re the tiny figures in that tiny town
    And all my sense of reason has been turned upon its head
    As all the glittered snow keeps coming down
    And you can laugh if you’re so inclined
    But I am in the snow globe in my mind.

    Mid-Week Bonus Song!

    February 17, 2010

    What?! You heard me right! My friend Timmy Riordan is crazier than I am, in that he has challenged himself to write not just one measly song a WEEK, but a song A DAY for every day in February (and a couple extra days at the end of January/beginning of March). Yup. A SONG A DAY, kids. My hat is off to him. I could not do that.

    But I did want to be involved when he opened the project to guest musicians, figuring it would be more fun to have a different person along for the ride with him everyday. We figured out our schedules and this was the day assigned to me. I didn’t want to cheat by making my Timmy song my regular weekly song, so this is a bonus song; my regular Week 7 tune will show up here on Friday.

    In the meantime, here is my Timmy Riordan Song Bomb 2010 contribution:

    EVEN THE STARS LIE
    By Kim Davidson
    © 2010

    I’m lying here… in our bed all alone
    And you called to say that you’d be working late
    And I’m trying not to let my mind go wanderin’ too far
    But this is something I’ve been hiding from for far too long

    They’re all piling up… the little hints that I’ve ignored
    The scent of perfume I don’t wear in the laundry
    The phone rings late at night, but there’s no one on the line
    Unless the office calls for you to come back in…

    CHORUS:
    Oh it’s so hard to pretend with my intuition screaming
    As I stand outside and look up to the stars
    And I wonder gazing at the shining lights twinkling above
    How many of these glimmers’ sources died out long ago?
    You ask me to trust and to put my faith in you
    Against all odds and evidence I’ve found
    But you are just a man… so how can I take you at your word… when even the stars lie?

    And I can’t go back… to that time of innocence
    To that blind belief I always had in you
    So I must decide if I can live with less than what was promised
    Or trust myself enough to walk away

    CHORUS

    This song is a mish-mash of three different ideas colliding into one song attempt. I had the idea quite a while ago to write a song using “even the stars lie.” I just love that image. Like, you can’t even count on the cosmos because that star you’re looking at right now might actually have died out eons ago. So cool. So I’ve been wanting to find a way to use that for some time. Additionally, I’ve been feeling this pull lately to write Other People’s Stories in my songs (whether made up or inspired by friends and acquaintances), and the idea of a wife becoming aware of her husband having an affair is just my latest idea that I decided I wanted to write about. So there was that. Then Tim has been doing this thing all month where he’s trying to share some kind of theme or common thread with his co-writers all month. So I decided a fun concept to play with would be to write a song that was completely non-rhyming. I had the idea initially when Tom Eaton brought it to my attention that Rowland Salley’s “Killing the Blues” (covered beautifully by Tom’s wife Susan Levine on her album “Atlas”) doesn’t have a single rhyming phrase anywhere in the lyrics. Except of course for the repeated title/tag line. That blew my mind. Because I’m a definite rhymer. And because it never made itself obvious as I’d listened to the song–and I’d heard it quite a few times at the point when Tom mentioned that. I feel like the key in a situation like that is to have a really strong melody line and rhythm, so that the listener is fooled into thinking they hear a rhyming structure. So that seemed like a great thing to try and accomplish somewhere along my songwriting journey.

    So those three ideas all came together this week as I sat down today to write a song for Tim.

    Let me tell you something. It’s one thing to write a song in a week’s time. Especially when you have free reign over the structure you’re going to use. It’s quite another to write a song within a one-day span, while imposing a very challenging structural demand on oneself. It was WAY harder than I expected it to be. And I’m not sure I feel the finished product is, well… finished. I fully anticipate that this one will hit the drawing board again at some point before it makes its way into my live show repertoire. That being said, at just a few minutes before midnight, it has been posted “as is” and it’s just fine for the purposes of the project, which is all I need it to be right now.

    It’s funny, you’d think that not needing to worry about rhyming would make it easier. I mean, I had COMPLETE FREEDOM to write ANYTHING. And yet it was so tricky! I discovered today that I really LIKE rhyming. I find a kind of fun and comfort in trying to come up with the best or most clever or most apt rhyme at any given moment. Much like a child unconsciously desires structure even while rebelling against it, I found today that so do I. Having the option to write ANYTHING was too overwhelming. I had to literally stop myself from rhyming things at times. It was a very interesting experiment. I may try it again someday, but I don’t know that I’ll force it on myself.

    As challenging as it was, I did enjoy it, however. And predictably while I was wracking my brain trying to write this specific song for today, I came up with my song idea for this week’s NSW song. And that, fellow writers, is the lesson I keep learning and learning and wish to share with you: write SOMETHING. Even when you’re blocked. Even when you hate it. Write “I hate this!” over and over if you need to. Write “I don’t know what the hell to write!” Eventually you’ll get through what’s blocking you, what you’re hating, and the next thing waiting to be written, the thing you may LOVE, will pop out. Sometimes you just need to clear the pathway and purge the crap. And the only way to do that is to put your butt in the chair and put pen to paper (or hands to the keyboard). I firmly believe this. I have been living it for seven weeks now. The day may come when it fails me, and if that happens I’ll write about it, believe me! Until then, I wish you all happy writing, and for those who are just here to read and listen, I hope you’re enjoying yourselves! Did I tell you I’m working on New Song Weekly T-shirts? Yeah. They’re coming. Yay!