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Creative Thing Week #8: Wonderful Life

In our last exciting episode, I described how I hadn’t managed to finish anything for last week, despite having spent some significant time up at the South Jetty in Venice, observing life and writing stuff down, among other things.

Well, this week, among other things, I’ve used a lot of that material in a new song. But I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

One big difference this week was that I spent more time focused on working with my creative muses. I’d like to get to “daily,” but this week I only had one day on which I didn’t create at least a couple of lines of doggerel, so that’s pretty close. And yesterday I dug into the accumulated lyrics of the week, and pulled out and assembled this song. Again, it’s likely not the best thing I’ve ever written, but it’s more or less complete (the bridge is a bit sparse) and it has music. I think I had some Jim Morris running through my head while creating lyrics, because the song at this point definitely has that sort of feel to it.

You probably want to hear the song now, right? Well, here it is: https://youtu.be/_g1dNFU5TmA

In addition, I managed to spend a bit of time brainstorming with a couple of my fellow artists on Friday, in between their sets. In the process, I came up with a chorus for something they’ve both been noodling on a bit, and got some constructive feedback on an old idea I’ve been knocking around for years. It was a helpful reminder of one of the reasons why I live here now, where my fellow artists track through fairly regularly.

I’m learning some worthwhile things about my creative flow and process, doing this exercise. And I’m already eight weeks in! :)

Copyright © Loren Davidson, all rights reserved

To buy any of Loren’s music, go to iTunes and search on “Loren Davidson.”

Or buy Loren’s music on CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/LorenDavidson

Just want to help support me in making more music? http://www.digitaltipjar.com/lorendavidson

Loren’s Website: http://www.lorendavidson.com

Loren’s Facebook artist page: http://www.facebook.com/lorendavidsonmusic

Loren’s ReverbNation artist page: http://www.reverbnation.com/lorendavidson

 

Creative Thing Week #7: I Fuck Up.

I got nothing.

Well, not exactly. I’ve created a bunch of lyrics, many of which are on similar themes in support of a couple of ideas I had around being by the water, dolphins, etc. Hell, I made a special trip to the beach today to try to get it together.

And it didn’t quite work. I got home; I got distracted. I did not meet my goal.

Yes, some of it is that I don’t dedicate regular time to creative work. Maybe I’ll manage to try that, and not try to pull an all-nighter on Saturday or Sunday.

My commitment is to be accountable through this journey, as I work on this stuff. Yeah, I’ve created three new songs in the last six weeks. That’s pretty awesome. But I ain’t done what I said I’d do for this week.

And I have to live with that, and figure out how to do better.

Thanks for listening.

Creative Thing #6: First Step (new song)

So Saturday morning arrived, and I was still about as idea-challenged as the guy who tried breaking a car window with his head. And I needed something by Monday.

And then I got an idea: Go through some of the song pitch requests that I get every day, find something that I can write to, and write something. So I picked a request looking for “travel songs” (because that *should* be in my wheelhouse) and listened to about five examples that had the feel they were looking for. Most of these used the same approximate groove, so that gave me a place to start. I picked up the guitar and started mucking around with chords and the groove, and trying out possible lyrics that might work for a hook.

After noodling with this for a bit, I started converging on a chorus idea, “take the first step.” I wanted to make it a love song, so I made sure there were two characters in it. And after getting a chorus, I had to make verses work.

In this case, I noticed that at least one of the examples was a contemporary folk song, with contemporary melodic phrasing. So I decided to do that in the verses, giving me contrast between verses and chorus. And then I kept beating stuff around until I had two halfway-decent verses and a passable bridge. A bit of refinement, and I have the “draft and a half” version that I recorded on Sunday afternoon before running off to play some Pokemon.

I don’t think the song is done. I’m not even sure it’s usable, and it’ll require a fair bit of work. But I’m proud of being able to create a song “to spec” in a very few hours, and I’m proud that I *finished* the blessed thing.

Give it a listen here, and let me know what you think: https://youtu.be/Y25cVGuAnQU

And if you like what I’m doing, please feel free to support me using the following links:

 

Copyright © Loren Davidson, all rights reserved

To buy any of Loren’s music, go to iTunes and search on “Loren Davidson.”

Or buy Loren’s music on CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/LorenDavidson

 

Just want to help support me in making more music? http://www.digitaltipjar.com/lorendavidson

 

Loren’s Website: http://www.lorendavidson.com

Loren’s Facebook artist page: http://www.facebook.com/lorendavidsonmusic

Loren’s ReverbNation artist page: http://www.reverbnation.com/lorendavidson

 

Creative Thing #5: Work in Progress

So, I didn’t finish anything presentable last week.

Oh, I have excuses. Monday I had a bartending class in the afternoon and a gig at night. Tuesday I was driving home from the Keys. And since Wednesday, I’ve been fighting a cold. Which is, thankfully, mostly a thing of the past already. :)

But I committed to doing this on a weekly basis, and to being accountable to you, my reader, on that same basis. So here we are.

The week wasn’t entirely without creative work – no week truly is. I have a collection of one- and two-line ideas for lyrics, and I had a clever idea for rearranging a song I cover to include a nod to a song currently on the charts. But I’m not going to make you sit through 2/3 of a song you already know just to catch eight bars of something else. We’ll save that for a show sometime, I think. :)

All that said, I *did* spend some time brainstorming on one idea of mine, and I’m at the point of having a halfway-decent (but possibly not final) first verse and a decent chorus. The music is still subject to change, so all I’m gonna give you is lyrics.

But first let me tell you about the idea.

What a few folks in our “coastal Americana” genre say about their songwriting process is, “I go places and write about what I’m seeing.” I’ve done it myself; my recent song “On the Beach” is one of those. But sometimes, the places I go aren’t that interesting. Englewood FL isn’t Key West by any stretch, and sometimes I go out in search of inspiration and find…an ordinary bar with ordinary people. And nothing interesting to write about.

And there’s nothing wrong with that, but as the old joke goes, “No adventure started with a salad.” And there have been a few awesome songs written about ordinary bars with ordinary people. “Piano Man” comes to mind.

But what if…rather than just seeing an ordinary bar with ordinary people, the tale-teller imagined those people to be more interesting? Being pirates, Rangers, dwarves, swashbucklers?

Thus was born the idea of “Fantasy Night at the Lukewarm Tiki Lounge.” The title is a nod to an old Dan Millman quote about moderation being like “lukewarm tea, the Devil’s own brew.”

So, here’s a verse and chorus from what I hope will turn out to be a fun and slightly offbeat song:

 

Tonight I’d like to find a den full of pirates

Hear their tales of adventure, see their jewels and gold

And sing songs of the ocean, a broadside and how to fire it

But all I’ve got is the neighborhood watering hole

 

CHORUS

There ain’t no epic tales going on

So I’ll just have to make up my own

Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had to scrounge

Guess it’s Fantasy Night at the Lukewarm Tiki Lounge

 

As always, your feedback (especially the encouraging kind) is welcome.

Creative Thing #4: No Place Like Far Away

Sometimes I think my Muse is testing me. “How badly do you want my gifts?” she’ll ask. So she’ll show up while I’m in the shower, making me remember lyrics and melodies until my brain is full and until I can get to either paper or pocket recorder. (Still thinking about putting a waterproof notepad on the shower wall – they exist.) Or showing up in the middle of the night when I’m trying to sleep.

The latter time is actually not bad for a Muse visit, from the perspective of being open to her whisperings. The conscious brain is mostly shut down, so what comes out is mostly from the creative subconscious.

So, at roughly 4 AM this past Friday, 1/19, my brain started noodling on the chorus for this song. I’d spent some time brainstorming on the drive south to Key West the day before, because there’s nothing like seven hours in my own company on the road to get the mental wheels turning on a whole variety of subjects. But things were still diffuse in my mind, with a couple of new ideas thrown in (notably, “pineapples, mangoes, and rum; oh my”) until 4 AM. At which point the chorus sorted itself out, and I roused myself sufficiently to try capturing it on my pocket recorder. Which chose that moment to die from old batteries.

Shit. Time to rouse myself a little more, turn on the video recorder on the phone (easier to use than the voice memo app, IMO), and quietly (don’t want to wake my hosts) sing the chorus into it. And close my eyes again.

At which time more ideas started pouring in, of course. So I gave up on getting back to sleep, turned on the light, and started writing. And captured an entire song: Two verses, the chorus, and a somewhat unique “spoken word” bridge. And *then* I went back to sleep, because I couldn’t work on music in the middle of the night while staying with friends in a very small house.

And once everyone was up, I got out the guitar and figured out the rest of the song. And recorded a video of it that didn’t turn out too horribly badly – I edited out the worst gaffes, made fun of one mispronunciation, added your part (“Oh my!”), and I was done.

And now you can enjoy it here: https://youtu.be/7CWfrXz8e4o

Yes, it’s a bit first draft-ish. It *is* the first draft. It will be refined and polished, and I may do something a bit different with that bridge. But the bones of the song are there, and good.

And I’ve managed to keep my creative commitment four weeks in a row, two of them with new songs. :)

Thing #3: Back to the beach…

Yes, I still write a lot of beach-themed stuff. As long as I can keep it entertaining…

This week’s offering started as a weird idea I got while in one of my favorite “idea generators,” the shower. I don’t know why I get so many creative ideas there; maybe because it’s the one place where I can’t write the bloody things down. :)

Anyway, it started with the old song “Frere Jacques” running through my head, and I stuck beach lyrics on it, following up on one of the likely consequences of falling asleep while lying on a beach. And it was cute and it was clever.

And then I remembered: Frere Jacques is supposed to be sung as a *round*.

And then I remembered: I can do that stuff on video.

And thus was a crazy, offbeat idea born.

Along the way, I discovered that my sense of tempo isn’t always all that great even when I have a visual “click” to follow. (I used a metronome app on my phone, which is why I’m looking down through the video.) So I’m not always in sync with myself…but that wasn’t the point of doing this.

Enjoy it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hu4THK6Ltk

Cheers,

Loren

 

Copyright © Loren Davidson, all rights reserved

 

To buy any of Loren’s music, go to iTunes and search on “Loren Davidson.”

Or buy Loren’s music on CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/LorenDavidson

 

Just want to help support me in making more music? http://www.digitaltipjar.com/lorendavidson

 

Loren’s Website: http://www.lorendavidson.com

Loren’s Facebook artist page: http://www.facebook.com/lorendavidsonmusic

Loren’s ReverbNation artist page: http://www.reverbnation.com/lorendavidson

Thing of the Week #2: New Song – On the Beach

So…this week, I’m sharing a song that I started working on last month, but have only recently “finished” polishing and rewriting.

I’m fortunate enough to live ten minutes from a lovely beach. On one recent afternoon, I decided to head over there to take a walk and let the sounds of the surf mellow me out. Which I succeeded in doing, but along the way, I started hearing bits of a song chorus about the beach in my head, so I played with it and let it work itself out a bit. And then I started populating the rest of the song.

Some of the bits in the song come from that particular trip – for instance, I did see the “family in the water posing for a picture.” Other bits I had to add from other beach and recreation spots – Englewood Beach doesn’t have a food concession, for one thing, and there’s a rule about bringing alcohol there. But in the end, I think I created a rather nice beach that I hope to find and spend some time on, one of these days. With friends.

The song is titled “On the Beach,” and you can enjoy it here: https://youtu.be/aIdPvs0y_ak

Other than that, I’ve been working on two other songs that aren’t coalescing yet – each of them has about two pages’ worth of lyrics scribbled, but not organized in any coherent way. There’s also a possible short comedy skit on handling telemarketers, and I got a concept for something (and a cool title) that needs lots of fleshing out. Back to the drawing board!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Well, we survived 2017, or at least anyone reading this email did. Some folks didn’t, and while we’ll miss them, they will always be with us in our memories.

My year had its ups and downs. I got an album done and out. I played some shows here and there, all of which were fun. I spent time with friends old and new. I watched a total eclipse of the sun, and ran away from a category 5 hurricane. I went back to the Virgin Islands for the first time since I was in my teens.

Going into 2018, I’ve decided to challenge myself a bit and to put that challenge out there, whether I meet it or not. And what I’m going to do involves changing how I create and put things out into the world.

I’ve got a decent set of creative skills and creative tools. I take decent pictures, I can make good, entertaining videos, I write songs, and I have some clues on how to connect all of those things together. I just need to do more if it.

So here’s my commitment to me and to you. It’s not an original idea; artists like Jonathan Coulton have been here before. I’m committing to creating and delivering a new “thing” each and every week for 2018. It might be a new song. It might be a video of me doing a cover of someone else’s work. It might be an instrumental, a photo collage, a poem, or a video travelog of me somewhere. Or a video apology for not accomplishing what I promised that week. :) Because I’m going to be accountable to you as well as to myself.

What this will hopefully accomplish is to keep me from self-censoring as much, which may be keeping some worthwhile bits from getting the exposure they deserve. It’ll make me exercise my creative “muscles” more regularly. And maybe the more regular communication and creativity will bring us a bit closer together over time.

My commitment is to me, but I’m making myself accountable to you. I would like nothing better than to get so into this with you that if something doesn’t come out when it should, some of you will take the time to ask me about it, hold my feet to the fire to see how I’m keeping my commitments. If I screw up, I’ll be embarrassed. Maybe that’ll be enough to keep me from screwing up. It’s worth a shot.

My plan right now is to deliver my weekly “things” using my blog, which has been grossly underused, and then to let y’all know via these emails, Facebook, and other social media. If the increased frequency of messages from me (going to once a week) is too much for you, you’ll drop off, and that’s okay. Hopefully the new content will entice you to stay.

Here’s my first “thing of the week,” an a capella version of one of my favorite songs:

Loren sings “As Time Goes By”

I’ll still be doing shows – I have two scheduled already, and have been talking to folks about others. But that’s not going to be where I’m focused.

I hope you’ll be joining me on this new adventure!

Blood, Sweat, Tears…and Fireworks

A long time ago, in a lifetime that occasionally seems far away indeed…I lived in upstate NY. And I was able to attend a number of awesome concerts at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). Back in the early 70s, lawn admission was only $2.50, to give you an idea of how long ago this was.

 

I went to a lot of concerts there in the time span from 1971-76. Among others, I saw James Taylor, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Eric Clapton, Santana, The Who, and many others.

 

Tonight, sitting out on my lanai, I heard a few fireworks being set off by (likely) kids who just got them at the stands that have now opened up the day after Christmas, getting everyone ready for New Year’s Eve. It’s a Florida thing, really – there are laws about who can set them off and where; they’re mostly ignored unless you’re being stupid about it. And I remembered a Fourth of July in 74, 75, or 76 – I don’t remember which – when I went to see Blood, Sweat, and Tears at SPAC.

 

People were being well-behaved inside the amphitheater, for the most part. Out on the lawn (what Harry Belafonte once called, in his impeccable island accent, “the shitty seats”), it was more of a war zone – I went up to check it out at intermission, and decided I was happier retreating inside the amphitheater itself. Which was tame until the very end of the show. BS&T was doing their signature song, “You Made Me So Very Happy.” And in the outro, there’s this break…they sing, “I’m so glad you came…” and there’s a pause.

And at this point, some idjit sets off a pack of firecrackers *inside* the amphitheater, for the first time all night.

 

Up on stage, David Clayton Thomas puts his hands on his hips and gives that part of the audience a dirty look. And says, “I hope you blow your balls off!” To which there was much applause.

 

When the applause died, he cued the band, and they continued: “Into my life…”

 

Never gonna forget that one.

 

Here’s the original song, so you can listen and find the spot where the thing happened. This was decades before cell phone videos and YouTube, or this would have been all over it.

A Moving Experience: An Infestation of Inspectors

M-day Minus 9:

My day is being somewhat disrupted by the buyers’ minions doing their diligence and checking out every square inch of the house, over the house, and under the house. Starting at 8:30 this morning, which is not an hour at which I’m used to having company.

Today it’s the home inspector and the termite inspector. The termite guy is done and gone; it’s now almost 10:30 and the home inspector guy is still doing his thing. OTOH, if they were working for me, I’d be very happy to have someone this thorough. But it’s screwing with my ability to get anything done.

Meanwhile, packing and loading continue. The POD is now half-full, and ready for me to tie that half of the load into place. I’ve been packing out tools, booze, my bike, and my studio gear, emptying cabinets, and figuring out what else I need and want to take.

As we tick down into single digits, the positives of knowing that move-day is getting close are balanced somewhat by the fear that I won’t have everything I need out of here by The Day. I’ve never had a move that’s gone off as planned. Granted, this time I’m not taking furniture, and there’s a bunch of stuff I really don’t need to take. But I’m still a little bit worried.