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January, 2018:

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

 

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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!