Tag Archives: songs

I’m Pushing an Elephant up the Stairs

As many of you know I’m a music fiend, but more accurately a lyric hound. I sniff lyrics out. I delve into them. I immerse myself in lyrics in the same way that I sink into a luscious hot bubble bath at the close of a day.

I just can’t relate when people (okay – I’m naming and shaming my husband here)  say  “I never really listen to the lyrics.”

Really?!  That’s blasphemy to me – like watching Downton Abbey on mute. You miss out on so much of the juicy, nuanced loveliness of the experience.

If you’ve read ‘Playing Along’ then you’ll be familiar with, George, my sweet lead who is a musician and a songwriter.

I believe all characters are a synthesis of fragments  –  actual reflections of the author’s psyche blended with imagined realities. George is part of me. The part of me that loves lyrics. He is the writer in me. The side of myself that doesn’t always like to be ‘looked’ at directly, but attempts to be ‘seen’ through words, and in George’s case – words and music.

This morning while on the school run an old REM song came on the radio. I marvel at how I can’t recall algebraic equations or historical facts from my Freshman year of high school, but throw on an 80’s dance party mix and I have every word to every song committed to memory.

Think of how many lyrics we each have stored in our brains, only for them to arrive promptly on instant recall when the melody releases the trigger. It’s pretty amazing. Perhaps all school lessons should be a collaboration with Duran Duran or One Direction?

But I digress… back to the REM song :

I’m pushing an elephant up the stairs. I’m tossing out punchlines that were never there. Over my shoulder, a piano falls. Crashing to the ground

A gift really, those words. I sang along, remembering what those lines meant to me when I first heard them, but also deriving new meaning in the present moment.

“I’m pushing an elephant up the stairs”  sums up much of the creative process. My daily tackle with writing a second novel – confronting the blocks that rear their ungainly heads, yet remaining determined to convince that elephant to cooperate.

“I’m tossing up punchlines that were never there”  calls to mind how I grapple with writing these blog posts, wondering if what I have to say and how I articulate it still holds interest.

“Over my shoulder, a piano falls, crashing to the ground”  for sure means something to my middle schooler sitting next to me in the car, juggling a pre -adolescent world that is out of her control, loud and unpredictable.

I was so relieved to hear those lyrics and syphon from them the empathy the songwriter wasn’t even aware he was offering. Thank you Mr Stipe.

Songwriting is cathartic – not only for the artist but for the recipient.  Songs are like potent microscopic therapy sessions. Offered for free. Always accessible.  Soulful mirrors. There for the taking.  But most importantly, there for the listening…

On a side note, I am thrilled to be featured as the guest poet this week on Samantha Reynolds’ gorgeous site www.bentlilly.com. Samantha writes a poem a day and hosts one guest each week. Click HERE to read my ‘Creative Diagnosis’.

 

Share your favorite song lyric. Reflect on how the meaning has changed for you over the years. Take ten minutes to write about the impact music has in your life.

OR

Are you writing fiction? Tell me your experience of integrating aspects of self into your characters. I’m always curious – let me know!

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That Song

We’ve all been there.  A song comes on the radio and you are transported somewhere immediately.  Some other point in time.  Another place in your life directly connected to ‘that song’.  The memory is visceral and vivid.

You might not recall the details of a conversation you had with someone an hour ago, but when you hear ‘that song’, you not only remember every single lyric, every arc in the melody, but you also recall the very real emotions that accompanied them as well.

Yesterday, this for me was ‘that song’

Classic 80s.  Took me right back to being with my best friend K.E.L. our ears pressed against my older sister’s bedroom door as she played this song on her cassette player over and over again.  She was 16 and had a boy in her room. A cute boy.  We were not sixteen and we were dying to know what it felt like to be in her shoes.  I was wearing white shorts and a baggy yellow tank top with the words RELAX emblazoned in black letters on the front. My long hair was pulled into a high ponytail with bangs/fringe back combed meticulously, sprouting forth like a tangled fountain.  K.E.L. had silky brown hair cut in a bob, braces, scuffed keds and the magical ability to make me laugh so hard I thought I would pee in my pants.  The tiles in the bathroom I shared with my sister were teal green and some of them had colourful exotic fish embossed onto them – decor inherited from the previous owner.  My lipstick was opalescent pink.  I was filled with curiosity and envy. My sister’s perfume was Anais Anais, a sickly sweet fragrance with pale, soft petaled flowers adorning the bottle.

Details.  They came tumbling at me avalanche style the moment I heard ‘that song’.

It’s all in the details.

What is ‘that song’ for you?  Have you heard it recently? Can you find it and listen to it.  Open your mind and heart up to all the particulars of the time it takes you to.  Write down the details.  The more the better.  No matter how trivial.  Keep your pen moving as you take a journey in your time machine.  Listen to it one more time.  You might be surprised at what else comes back to you.

Write for at least ten minutes.  Longer if you wish.

Bon voyage!