Then the world changed

So much has changed in the world since my last blog post in February that it’s difficult to sum it up.

But I’ll try anyway, using a sharp focus only on the songwriting journey.

In the last post, in early February, I was about three classes in the studio recording class. By mid-March, the school closed for spring break and remained closed for an additional week before announcing that school would be closed for the rest of the semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My teacher restructured the class to be online-only and it wrapped up a couple weeks ago.

Fortunately before spring break, we had some time in the studio where the teacher walked us through the set up and then left us to try it on our own. Guided by a couple of students who had more studio experience, we each had a chance to plug the right cables in the patch bay, adjust the different settings and set up the different pre-amps and do some brief recording. It was lots of fun and had the class continued, we would have gotten a chance to work our way through recording different instruments.

Since we no longer had access to Pro Tools in class, we received a three-month free trial to use at home, but I haven’t done much with it because it’s pretty complicated to figure out. My teacher was gracious enough to walk me through an initial set-up, but that wasn’t really the purpose of this class so I didn’t want to ask for more of his time for this. I tried recording a song in Garage Band and finally got the set up right. Production sure does take lots of time though. It seems by the time I get everything set up, I run out of time to do the actual recording (plus it take me multiple takes to get a recording I’m somewhat happy with.)

So I gave up on ProTools and set up Ableton on my laptop and it seems more user-friendly. It took me a whole afternoon to set up my Focusrite Scarlett Solo interface and Ableton on my laptop so NEXT TIME I will try to record my most recent song.

Meanwhile, I’ve been doing lots of pandemic-inspired writing.

My first song was in the very early stages of the stay-home phase.

Since it was in the early days of the pandemic in Arizona, the cancellation emails were just starting to arrive. From bar mitzvah ceremonies and celebrations to multiple events, I was regularly deleting events from my calendar. We learned that schools were closing and I started working from home.

Everything’s been cancelled, my calendar is clear
The busy lives we were living quickly shifted gears
Looks like we’ll be spending lots of time at home
In this apocalyptic thriller, this Twilight Zone

In those first few days when everything changed, the weather was dreary with gray clouds, which really fit the mood. Reports of bare grocery shelves started hitting the news, along with images of long lines at the store.

The rain is pouring down now, the sky has turned dark gray
Matches the mood felt across the world today
Grocery shelves are empty, the line wraps ’round the store
We’re living in a virtual world like we’ve never seen before

My co-writer Lisa Hart and I had been working on an environmental activism song and one line of it, “All in this together” stuck with me so I ended up using that line and rewriting all the other lyrics to fit the current situation.

I wrote the bridge after the realization struck how many people would be staying home by themselves during this time.

Though the future is unknown, though you may feel alone
You’re not alone, no, you are not alone

This was the first version of the song, which I posted on Facebook before I was finished with it because I just wanted to get the message out to anyone who may have needed to hear it:

I ended rewriting the chorus the next day.

We’re all in this together, no matter where we are
Neighbors on this planet wishing on that shooting star
We’re all in this together though we’re told to stay away
We can still find the light to brighten someone’s day

After I finished the song, I made a video of it and my boss was gracious to let me include it on one of our weekly newsletters.

After the newsletter was sent, I received a beautiful email from one of the seniors we serve and she said she really enjoyed the song, saying she planned to replay it whenever she was feeling low. That was so nice to hear.

Maybe this is a dream

A couple weeks later, I was still trying to process what was happening. In our home, my husband and I were working from home and our boys were attending school remotely. Everything seemed so surreal. Under our calm blue skies and beautiful weather, it was difficult to fathom the horrors and sadness that other cities were experiencing. As I relaxed outside on our hammock, I wanted to pretend that the recent news was really just a bad dream.

One day at a time

Before the pandemic struck, everybody was busy making plans. Once everything was cancelled, the attitude was that we’d have to see how it goes before we rescheduling anything. I tend to be a bit of a procrastinator anyway when it comes to planning, but it is surreal to know that the whole world is currently in the same frame of mind, where they are taking everything day by day.

What’s next?

As explained above, we don’t really know what’s next. As some restaurants and businesses are opening up, other things such as schools and concert tours are still undetermined. Much has moved online, such as our local songwriters’ association’s monthly meetings – we have had two so far.

For me personally, songwriting-related, I have been taking guitar lessons through Fender Play and have learned some new chords and strums, among other things. Lisa and I have continued our weekly virtual meetings, sometimes working on songs, sometimes more for inspiration and encouragement.

I’ve finished one more pandemic-related song and hope to record that soon (now that I figured our how to set up the inteface and Ableton) and just started a new song last night.

But hopefully the really big news will be that COVID-19 will be eradicated off the face of the earth very soon.

Stay healthy, thanks for reading this.

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