Musing about a muse

At the songwriting gathering event I attended yesterday, there was a wonderful presentation by songwriter Shelly Peiken, author of the 2016 memoir “Confessions of a Serial Songwriter.”

During her presentation, she mentioned her muse from her college days, a fellow student who was the object of her unrequited love. She said her feelings for him sparked a number of songs (her hits include Christina Aguilera’s “What A Girl Wants” and Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch.”)

However, after Googling him years later, he lost his muse status and she lost her muse.

That got me to thinking of who my muse is. I didn’t have to think very long, as I guess I already knew: my teenage crush Rick Springfield. Perhaps it’s a long-term effect from having my teenage walls covered with posters of his image, but I’d have to admit that he’s inspired a few of my recent songs. (See this post for the initial songs: “What inspired me to write again.”)

Here’s a song that was inspired after I saw him a hotel lobby but didn’t approach him as he was checking into the hotel with his band. I was walking by with my husband, who wasn’t comfortable with us interrupting the check-in (plus who am I kidding, what would I say anyway in that situation?) But I did get a wave from his drummer who was on his cell phone and we rode in the elevator to our floor with the bassist, who was really nice.

Since I had briefly met RS a couple of times at previous shows, I thought I might have another chance after the show, but no such luck. So after I got home, this song blossomed out of my regret.

I saw you in the lobby, but I didn’t say hello
I figured you were tired and I’m not someone you know
But for a single moment, we were breathing the same air
I snapped a picture in my mind so I still see you standing there

I saw you in the lobby but continued walking by
Your back was toward me so I couldn’t catch your eye
Opportunity presented, in a flash it disappeared
A one-sided memory of a moment that we shared.

The song is less than a minute long and doesn’t have most of the standard elements of a song – is it a song or a poem with a melody? I don’t know, but I did submit it to a literary magazine and it was printed in the fall issue of The Blue Guitar magazine.

Here’s the song (or whatever you want to call it). The main image used is a picture of the actual hotel lobby. He was standing at the left of the check-in desk and my husband and I were walking by on the left.

This song uses the same basic chords and strum that I was using in all my songs at that time so although in my mind it has a totally different melody than others, if you listen to the music, it sounds very similar.

The benefit of having a muse you don’t know is that you can create your own image of them and there’s less danger of having that idealized view crushed (and therefore eliminating that muse from your songwriting tendencies.) So although it would be a dream to record a song with Rick Springfield, maybe it’s better if I never meet him because that may endanger his role as my muse. (Who am I kidding, I would totally take that chance!)


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