Wednesday, September 7, 2011

More Songs are Born

Tuesday -- is it already Tuesday?  We might have pressed the snooze button a few times... even Don, who always makes fun of my snooze button tendencies, waited until 38 minutes (not that I was counting) after the first alarm to get his arse out of bed.

But breakfast was calling!  Sylvie was waiting in the lodge with some of the Phase II participants for her "posse" -- we ended up being the only two to turn up, albeit a bit late.  Slackers. ;-)

After breakfast, we all headed up to the morning workshop.  First, we went over our group song from the day before.  One minor change to the lyrics -- which made a big difference -- but that was it.   Next step, the arrangement!  We got it roughed out and recorded to work with.

Next step was individual songs. I had gone over a list the night before of all the partial songs I still wanted to finish, but only had one that went beyond a cool line or two -- and that one was definitely off limits, mine, nobody's gonna touch this.  As in my entire year of grade 13 calculus, I just prayed I wasn't called on to show my homework.

Mr. Bray to my rescue (unintentionally, I presume).  He, of course, had most of a song ready, which he wrote falling asleep the night before.  Did I mention the word "bastard"? ;-)

A bit of discussion over some things he was having troubles with, but basically, everyone was loving it.  Who wants to go next?

Eyes lower to studiously examine carpet...  then gaze furtively around the circle... then back at the oh-so-interesting carpet...

PHEW!  Ahmed has a song to share.   (Although it's one he's already rehearsed with his band, so I personally think he's cheating... but at this point, I'm just happy to not be caught!)  More discussion and... aw, shucks, it's time to break for lunch!

Lunch was... well, not terribly colourful for us veggies -- rice and stir-fry noodles.  Thank goodness for the salad bar, or all I would have had would have been white...   But I so love that salad bar, especially the chick peas and blue cheese dressing, num num nummm.

Guess how I spend my after-lunch break?  Yup, cramming the songs.  I try so hard to get some of the one-liners fleshed out, but... oh crap, what was that Sylvie said about how the thing you resist the most is the thing you most need to do?  OK, OK... I'll do the off-limits song, damnit. I peel back through my journal for the two years' worth of failed attempts to complete this song, and try to piece the good stuff together.  I even come up with some new stuff.  Yay me! I'm still hoping to flesh out the lighter stuff, but... damn, two hours is over, back to session.

So, who wants to start first?  My knight in shining armour wants to sing us all the new version, before he forgets how to play it.  Everyone loves the changes, a bit more discussion.  Who wants to go...?  Cameron!  Yay, I love those Brays. :-)

Cameron, of course, has that annoying Bray tendency of being able to write an incredible song as quickly as a burp.  I really hate those Brays...  ;-)  Needless to say, it's fabulous.  The only work done on the song is to get him more comfortable with the guitar part, and fit him into more of a groove.  Other than that, the song and his delivery are incredible.  I'm teary.  Even though he's a bastard too.  :-)

Next up is Sylvie, who has never written a song before.  She presents a work-in-progress, which she declares to be too whiney for her taste, although it has some quite funny moments to break it up.  Eric suggests she take the lyrics -- which are basically about how annoyed she is that everyone depends on her to save the day, and she's fed up with being the strong one (oh geez, I could never relate to that -- hardeeharhar...) -- and instead of looking down upon herself, to look at herself in a more positive light.  Others recognize that she probably wouldn't mind doing these things if she got something in return, such as acknowledgement or acceptance.  She agrees to take a look at it again.

Thank goodness, we're going in a circle now (I'm at the end, yay!).  Louise has a perfectly-formed lyric in the style of an old English ballad, titled "Fear Lived In Her Belly".  It rings way too true.  The only changes suggested are to cut out a few syllables, and Eric and/or I will help her put a melody and accompaniment to it.  The song in lyric form is pretty much done.

Then it's my turn -- oh, come on... already?!?  Avec shaky voice (and did I mention still sick?), I wobble my way through the opening verses, speak through the chorus (haven't found a melody yet), sing the next set of verses, and then say where I'm stuck...   Apparently my worry that it was too much of a country hurtin' song was not needed -- everyone sees it as genuine and heartfelt.  Sari says it sounds more like an Irish tune than a country hurtin' song -- phew.  And the bad stuff isn't over the top.  Just have to fill out the ending.

OK, I survived.

So now, we break out for an hour to work on stuff by ourselves.   I try.  I really try.  I write the next verse eleven different ways, then give up and upload the previous day's blog, and compose a to-do list of things to remind me how I fail to complete to-do lists.  Yes, I am my worst enemy.  You any better?

Time to go back, so I run to the lodge to get a refill of ginger tea.  Don has the same idea.  I laugh at the fact that I pulled off the tragic part of the song quite easily, and it's the happy ending that has me tied in knots.  I'm really not good at happy endings.  Hey, I have trust issues.  Deal with it. ;-)

Back to finish off the session with a quick check-in from us all.  Don, of course, has a shining, polished diamond of a song. (bastard)   Cameron has been working with a metronome to figure out the groove.  Sylvie has come back with some new verses that astound us all.  Louise has worked with Eric and created a beautiful melody, sung in a sweet and beautiful voice.  Ahmed e-mailed his family.  I... sort of have a verse, and one hell of a to-do list.  I read the verse, and get some suggestions.  I come up with some of my own ideas to finish 'er off.  We'll see what happens before tomorrow.

Dinner time!  We eat with Sylvie and Louise again.  The veggie dinner is quinoa and stuff, much less sweet than the night before.  Which means we get to eat dessert -- apple cake with caramel sauce and whipped cream.  Mmm!

Evening session.   We work on the song, fine-tune the arrangement, and record a few new practise takes.   It's sounding pretty darned good.  Everyone who has done group songs before agrees that this is the best group song they've ever been involved with.  Damn, we're good. :-)

After that, Eric has an agenda: Sylvie.

Sylvie has completely re-written her song, and now has a melody.  First, she just reads the lyrics. Wow... or should I say: WOW.  The refrain has now changed to "you can count on me", and ends with a verse every care-giver will cleave to their breast -- I need some support, too, just give me a hug or something, and that's all I'll need to carry on.  (I'm paraphrasing, of course, don't want to steal her thunder.)  We're all in awe.  And then she goes to the piano to sing it.  A little tentatively at first, as she hasn't played piano in 45 years, but she picks out the opening lines, and then takes it from there, with Eric filling in the chords underneath.  She gets to verse two and gets choked up -- which of course chokes the rest of us up.  But she ploughs onward, through the tears that cause her to pause from time to time, and finishes the song.  It's incredible.  We're all crying.  Eric asks her to repeat it, so he can record it and figure out the accompaniment part later tonight.  Even the second time, she's tearing up, so Louise quietly walks over, kneels beside her at the piano, and rubs her back as she's singing.  Just that is enough to make me sob quietly in the corner...   It was such a beautiful moment, one woman pouring several decades of strength and pain out in song, and another just quietly sitting there, taking it on for her, helping her through.  You can count on me.  Count on me.

We are all emotionally drained.  Big hugs.   Even the Bray boys are in tears (I love a man who can cry!).   We trade a few songs, and Louise shows us a video of "Stand By Me" made at the homeless shelter where she works, where professional performers and the shelter clients are all singing together.  Damn.  I thought we were supposed to stop crying?!?!?

Too many wonderful things in this world.  Too many wonderful people. :-)

Session is over.  We head to the lodge for some more visiting and a tasty beverage.  Once again, we're in bed before midnight.  Yes, I'm eating breakfast and going to bed before midnight.  No, this won't last forever. :-)


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