Thursday, March 6, 2014

#148 - Write Your Own Song

"You can write your own words / You can sing your own song
And it doesn't really matter if you're out of tune / Or if no one sings along"
- John Wesley Harding "Sing Your Own Song"

Next to Elvis Costello, John Wesley Harding is, perhaps, my favorite songwriter of the last twenty-plus years. Plus, he's written three novels. In other words, he's done the things I always told myself I wanted to do.

A part of me has always been into writing. I won't call it a passion, as there has always been some question about whether I'm truly passionate about anything. However, I have enjoyed writing for quite some time, even making a living at it during my years as a reporter and later as a news producer.

In high school, I worked on the school newspaper, writing editorials about book burning, gas rationing (it was the 70s, the time of the oil embargo), and the like. I latched onto writing as a way to be noticed, I suppose, something that didn't happen from being in marching band, and I wasn't coordinated enough or strong enough or fast enough for sports.

Writing also became my way of coping with the world around me outside my home, as well as the feelings and emotions inside me and my home. Because I have the discipline and dedication of a gnat (and at times the attention span to go with it), I never worked much on longer forms of writing, although I always told people I wanted to write a novel . . . one day.

Instead, I latched onto song lyrics as my outlet. It was almost like writing poetry, except I didn't have to be opaque or obscure or quite so metaphorical. Song lyrics were also good and inexpensive therapy. My lyrics, bad as they were at times, helped me to express and work through things I wasn't really comfortable sharing with others. As a result, most of the lyrics I've written have perhaps thankfully never been shared with others.

I began writing lyrics my senior year in high school, and I've never really stopped, although I have gone months at a time without writing a word. Forty years of thoughts, feelings, rhymes, and stories. Most of what I've written is utter drivel and not likely to be improved with age or revision, something I almost never do.

Yet, I keep writing. It keeps my mind and my imagination active. I've written enough words to probably fill two or three novels, although I don't think much of a narrative could be pieced together from them if all those words were combined. (An interesting experiment for perhaps another day.)

I'd like to think my lyric writing has improved with time, age, and possibly wisdom, but a writer of any genre is generally not the best judge of his or her own work. So, at the end of this post, I'll let you decide.

The song I quoted at the start of this post, "Sing Your Own Song," conveys the idea that we each of us should live our own lives, write our own songs, as it were, and not worry about what other people want, think, or say about it. It's the idea that each of us marches to the beat of a different drummer.

I've been marching to that different beat for most of my life. I'd like to think my drummer has gained a better sense of timing and rhythm over the years. I'd also like to think that drummer will one day help me beat out that novel I still hope to write. In the meantime, I'll keep writing my lyrics, even if "no one sings along." Here's the latest, based on no personal experience or person I know, yet it probably fits several people who have gone in and out of my life over the years.

Just One of Those Things
I see the crystal vision / Of places we once went
I know my indecision / Caused us to lose the scent
Of what we had
I know I should be sad
But I'm not even mad, it was just one of those things

I hear the distant echoes / Of songs we used to share
They seem to end in mid-note / Left hanging in the air
Reminders of
This thing we once called love
Not quite like hand in glove, it was just one of those things

We thought we knew where we were going
We hadn't a clue
Each day, the doubt kept growing
Inside both me and you

Around me, imitations / Of things we used to do
Are there reminding me of / The life I had with you
So long ago
Where did that feeling go?
I don't really know, it was just one of those things

We finally reached the point
We couldn't take any more
One of us had to leave
We both walked out the door

I know someday the memories / Will simply fade away
Well meaning friends no longer / Asking if I'm okay
Like something's wrong
We just did not belong
And when one day you were gone, it was just one of those things

No need for sad goodbyes, it was just one of those things

One day we'll look back on this as just one of those things

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