Observing from the back row

Oftentimes when I’m in a classroom or classroom-like setting, I tend to select a seat toward the back of the room. I’m not quite sure why, but it’s something I’ve done for as long as I can remember.

Maybe it’s a fear of being called on and not knowing the answer? Or a preference to observe rather than participate? Or maybe so it’s easier to escape or doze off without being noticed if the subject matter doesn’t interest me?

Although there are no rows in an online classroom, I realized this week that I’m doing the same thing in this songwriting course. Some students are so good about commenting on others’ posts and some are posting videos of themselves performing or audio recordings of their songs. I’ve responded to a couple of posts so far and have posted a couple of times, but mainly I’m just observing.

One reason is because it’s a little intimidating. Many in this cohort have long musical careers behind them and have several professionally recorded songs and know lots of songwriting lingo that I’m not familiar with. Toplines. Metadata. Chord progressions. Learning lots, but don’t feel ready to contribute at this point.

However, I’m still moving forward with my own songs. A couple of weeks ago, several homes in our neighborhood lost power for about three hours. Because the temperature that day was 112 degrees, it was starting to get a little uncomfortable after the first couple of hours. But my youngest son, who is 9, didn’t seem to mind.

He was having fun with the sudden change in schedule and embraced the experience of our house without power, such as seeing how our living space looks with just a flashlight. “This is so fun,” he exclaimed two hours into the power outage as his bedtime was passing by. “I hope this happens again!”

I loved his optimism and by the next day I started writing a new song.

When the power went out tonight
Found a battery for the flashlight
The wind is howlin’, that’s alright
We’re cozy here inside

With a flashlight comes shadow puppets.

As the darkness falls
We make shadow puppets on the wall
Doesn’t bother us at all
To take a break from the world

Although we haven’t gotten to the songwriting component of the sync class, one thing that did come up was using songs to tell a story, to help move along the film or TV show or even add context to a commercial. Having this in mind, I picture this song used in a movie or film when the family characters are making the most of a power outage.

We dine by candlelight
This change of scenery feels so right
Sharing stories through the night
Our spirits burning bright

I also thought about the possibility of the song being used in a commercial for a utility company, but then realized a commercial about a power outage may not be the best promotion for a power company.

In the bridge, I attempted to relate that sometimes the unanticipated situations we find ourselves in can end up bringing unexpected joy.

Our life felt out of control
Our evening didn’t go the way we thought it would go
Truth be told, I felt a twinge of regret
When the lights flickered on, I wasn’t ready yet

I also had my first co-writing session this past weekend, from a woman I met a couple of months ago at the monthly songwriting workshop. We had a video call over Facebook Messenger where she played some stuff she was working on and I shared some of my unfinished pieces and had a great chat. We didn’t have much time due to technical difficulties and the fact that I only had an hour available because I had to take one of my kids to an appointment, but it was lots of fun and we’re planning another video call next weekend.



  1. You might not have the experience and training that the others have, but you do bring a perspective that is unique to you and more amazing than any I’ve ever seen, and is why you write such great songs to begin with, so don’t be shy to share with a group of people you don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

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