Once upon a time, a long time ago, before home computers and the Internet and blogs, I used to write my songs in spiral notebooks.
The lyrics remained on those pages until about a few years ago, when I went through them and typed up all the ones that had melodies I remembered. Somewhere in a shoe box, there’s a cassette tape with these songs which I taped at some point for posterity.
After about a 10-year hiatus from writing songs – a time that included having three kids – I started writing songs again about four years ago. I didn’t intentionally pick up my guitar and start writing again, but after the realization struck me that all my songs I’d written throughout the years only existed in my head and nobody else had ever heard them (besides those who heard them when I performed at open mics years ago, but they likely forgot them after leaving the coffeehouse), I decided to go back and record them.
Many of them were written during challenging times in my life and it felt unnatural to be sitting in my living room singing about dating woes when I was happily married and lived a busy life with three kids. I pulled my high school acoustic guitar out of its case to try to remember the chords to my songs, but instead of re-recording my older songs (digitally instead of on the cassette tape), I ended up writing a new song. And then another one. And then another one. Since 2015, I’ve completed (lyrically, not all musically yet) more than 40 songs.
Recording older songs
So far I’ve only re-recorded four of my songs from the previous decade. One of them I wrote in 1999 and played a few times at coffee shop open mic nights: “It’s Easier That Way.” (When I recorded this, it had been about a decade since I picked up a guitar so you have to use your imagination a little to have it sound like it would sound played by a better musician…)
The other two were songs I wrote soon after my mom died. The first one, called “Garage Sale,” is about an uncomfortable garage sale.
This next one I wrote as a poem a year after her death and read it on at a poetry reading that was held actually one year and a day before she died. This recording is from a couple of years ago – I recorded it in her memory to commemorate the anniversary of her death.
This last one I wrote a few days after 9/11, after being struck by the idea that Sept. 11, 2001 started as an ordinary day with nobody having any idea about what was about to come next.
Moving forward with this blog
When I first started this blog, I thought I would put together a portfolio of my songs so I would have a place to share them. My dream is to have them professionally recorded and get them out in the world to those who might enjoy them. I hesitated because none are professionally recorded so would that seem unprofessional? Having a song professionally recorded – with professional musicians and mixing and mastering – typically costs hundreds of dollars and I’m not currently in a position to do that. So should I wait?
Then I realized that the songwriting journey is a part of the process and wanted to document that. So here I am, planning to share my songs – and the stories behind them, except this time I’m writing them on a blog instead of a spiral notebook.