The Random Griffith

February is still album writing month

Posted in Uncategorized by Jackson Griffith on 18/02/2010

Nine songs written, and I have no idea where or when the next one is coming, but it should be sometime in the next day or so. This is the second year I’ve participated in February Album Writing Month, which may be why I haven’t been as gung ho about the blog posts this month. My progress can be monitored here, for anyone who’s interested. I haven’t begun recording them, because my voice turned into a Tom Waits snarl for about a week, and now my living situation hasn’t been conducive to me cutting any wack sides.

I still have no idea what I’m doing as a songwriter, as I haven’t gotten any of my fine compositions placed on The Hills (season four, episode 18, if you’re curious), or maybe Jersey Shore. Perhaps I should defer to The Experts on that particular subject. That said, a certain amount of autodidactic stumbling in the dark might be good for creativity’s sake.

But a technique of whiteboarding lyrics might be a novel approach, because that’s the area I seem to have the most trouble with. I tend to be linear in how I go about it, when using something more akin to mind-mapping might be the way to go, or at least a way to break through to something different. Also, I think I’m going to try writing a chorus that consists of nothing but “la-la-la-la-la,” because this might make it more salable in today’s market. Actually, the idea of designing songs that can be broken apart into different and, one presumes, highly marketable components intrigues me; it’s like making little song-snippet Legos and then putting them together in different combinations.

I really don’t want to come off sounding all cynical here, but when I went fishing for “How to Write Songs” clips on YouTube and came up with the Zosia clip above, it really bummed me out. There’s an epidemic of people whose contributions to art and music and other cultural touchstones are minimal, but they have the chutzpah to pass themselves off as experts. I’m guessing I should just STFU and hang my own shingle out. Yes, I know a lot. What would you like to learn from me?

I could tell you about creative process, which involves shutting off the inner editor that tells you that what just popped into your head sucks, and there’s no future in it, and you might as well not bother.

Learn to bother. Or, as the I Ching often advises: Perserverance furthers.

I could also tell you to make your diet as omnivorous as possible. Listen to all sorts of weird stuff, even if it has nothing to do with your particular artistic bailiwick. You never know where that missing piece of the puzzle is hiding. And learn other writers’ songs, and study the chord progressions and they way they put songs together. If you’re enchanted by a piece of music, buy the sheet music and find out how it’s constructed.

But, most of all, be open. Listen to that chorus of weirdos in your head. Don’t listen to your inner schoolmarm, who’s always busy trying to shut those weirdos up.

And if you want to hear what my weirdos have been up to, come by Luna’s Cafe (1414 16th Street in Sacramento, between N and O Streets) this Saturday, February 20. The show starts at 8:30 p.m., your donation of $6 will go to help the Sacramento Food Bank, and you’ll get to see, in this order, Nate Beier, then me, then Rich Driver, who put together the show (thanks, Rich!), then Dana Gumbiner, and finally, Ryan Offield. I can tell you that it’s going to be a great evening ahead of time with reasonable confidence that it will be.

Here’s one song I didn’t post, “Dead to Me,” because it’s a bit darker than the others. It’s just a personal catharsis, a way of saying goodbye in my head to someone I never got the satisfaction of achieving any kind of closure with, and any death alluded to is entirely metaphorical.

I may not always love you
But long as there’s stars above
You’re gone oh no betrayed
Now stop the world
Or stop the hurt
Make it go away

With surgical precision
I make a bold incision
Cut you from my heart
That place where you
Connected to
Me is sliced apart

Girl now you are so dead to me
And these words I sing are your obituary
You’re so dead to me
Dead to me

Let’s get this understood now
You’re out of my life for good
And I don’t care at all
If you live on
Or if you’re gone
I don’t care at all

Girl now you are so dead to me
And these words I sing are your obituary
You’re so dead to me
Dead to me

Girl now you are so dead to me
And these words I sing are your obituary
Girl now you are so dead to me
And these words I sing are your obituary
You’re so dead to me
Dead to me

I do hope some of you will come to our show at Luna’s. I promise you won’t be disappointed. —Jackson Griffith


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