Hearing the right words at the right time can often turn your day around and when a song hits the right inspirational note, it can become a strong force in your life.
When I wrote this next song, the lyrics had a message that I needed to hear. The song is called “Shine Your Light.” Basically, the message is that we all are here to fulfill a different purpose and part of the journey is to find what your light is and make it shine.
We all have a limited time on this earth
No one’s sure how long it’ll last
Every day brings a new beginning
Don’t get stranded in the past
Every person has a unique role
Only they can fulfill
So find it, ignite it and share it with the world
If you don’t, nobody else will
I wrote this song in summer 2015 and was the first one I performed in front of other people since my open mic days back in the 1990s. One of my friends belonged to a synagogue that had a “Hanukkah Coffeehouse,” where members performed songs. She knew I had recently started writing songs again and encouraged me to share a song. Since light is a major concept of Hanukkah, I chose to perform this one.
(I had also written a Hanukkah song a decade earlier for a women and girls choir that a friend of mine organized. The song was called “The Sizzling Sounds of Hanukkah.” Unfortunately I don’t have a recording of that performance, but it was fun to sing with a group for this one. The choir director, Esther Bronsteyn, wrote the music on piano.)
One “Shine Your Light” verse in particular is a Hanukkah concept that I had previously learned that resonated with me: just as a tiny flame can light up a room, we can brighten up the world around us with small acts of kindness. And those small acts of kindness can continue to have an impact on the world (and the people in it) for a long time.
If a tiny flame can brighten a room
We can all light up the sky
A single blaze
Illuminates for days
Bringing a glow to our lives
After I performed the song, one gentleman in the audience came up to me and said that he really enjoyed my song and said the lyrics sounded like something Adele would write. Of course I took that as a compliment! Another person told me that I should go to the Walk-In Wednesdays open mic at Tempe Center of the Arts and play it there.
It took me about five months to work up the courage to make it to the Walk-in Wednesdays open mic in Tempe, which is hosted by the legendary Walt Richardson. My husband and I arranged a babysitter and rushed across town to get there early enough to sign up, but the list was already full. The coordinator said that we could be added to the waiting list and stay until the end to see if there was any additional time. In the end, there was time for me to perform one song instead of two, but I was quite alright with that since I was still a little anxious about performing in public.
By the time it was my turn, it was nearly 10 p.m. and most of the crowd was already gone, which was fine with me. Walt Richardson made me feel really comfortable and welcome, even though I felt like an impostor being there since all the other performers were so good.
When I brought this song to a songwriting workshop the following year – the Arizona Songwriters Association Song in Progress Workshop with Randy Brown and Jon Iger at the Glendale Public Library – I played the Soundcloud version of my song:
At that time, they told me that this was the most complete song I had brought in so far, although they warned me that it might come across as a little preachy and people don’t want to be preached to.
I really like the message of this song and it’s on my list of songs to go back to and make some improvements. One change that I’ve already made is to change a line in this verse:
The world is filled with beautiful souls
But there are some who seek to smother the sun
They may darken our days with their evil ways
But we can’t let them think that they’ve won
At the time I wrote this, ISIS was in the news a great deal and their evil actions were making headlines. So the line about “they may darken our days with their evil ways” was about the fact that there are some people who have other ideas about life and are willing to kill others who believe differently from them. But after some time passed, the word “evil” seemed to be too harsh for this song since the song had taken a different direction by the time I finished it. So I changed that line to “They may darken their days with their discouraging ways.”
It’s my hope that someday this song will inspire somebody else to “shine their light.”