I feel pretty great this morning. The drive last night was rough—we went all the way from LA to Santa Maria without being able to find a single hotel. But, yesterday was wonderful and it made all the dumb driving worth it.
I got to attend the Desmond Child master session on songwriting, which was incredible. He was eccentric, outgoing, funny, and truly himself. He spewed all sorts of information on how he got to where he was and what makes him tick as a successful songwriter. he talked for maybe an hour about how he got to where he is now and how we can do it, too.
Then he brought up Eric Bazilian, a co-writer friend. Eric is the guy that wrote Joan Osborne's hit "One Of Us." Eric and Desmond co-wrote "Kiss The Rain" together, so they talked about that process and then played and sang that song on acoustic guitar. So great to see the actual songwriters doing the original version of a song that's become such a part of our lives.
The best part for me was when I got to come up on stage and play my song for Desmond—and the 1400 or so people in the audience! He sat at the front of the stage instead of in the fancy panelist chairs, so I sat there next to him. He looked at me and asked me my sign. I told him Aquarius and he shook his head and put his hand on my arm and looked me in the eye with a bit of melodrama and said, "I'm sorry." He explained that the thing with an Aquarius is that they aren't focused enough—they're always trying to do too many things. [Boy, isn't that the truth!]
I told him I was in rehab for my Aquarianism and I'd let him know how it went.
Then he asked about my last name—what sort of name was it? So, I told him the truth, which was that I really didn't know, but that I thought maybe Belorussian. Basically, I inherited it and that from my dad and that's what I know.
He already had the lyrics to No Truth Anymore sitting in his lap, since they'd planned for me to be there.
He looked them over and looked back and forth between me and the sheet of paper. "People should like a song before they even hear it. Think about how epic of a title 'Living La Vida Loca' was. Or, 'Living On A Prayer,' right? Now, your title, well, it's bad. No Truth Anymore? What the hell is that about? What's strong about that? One thing I've learned from writing songs for KISS is that you have to be strong."
I'd never thought about it that way. I'd never thought about titles at all, ever, actually. In fact, I'd never thought about any of my words much—they just sort of came out.
After more talking about his life, he asked me to play the song for him. So, I played half of it. For the first few seconds I was a tiny bit nervous, but then I reminded myself to relax and just shine. I told myself, "This song got me this far and I've played on way bigger stages than this, so I'm going to do just fine."
He didn't seem to like it much. "It's like, a folk song or something, right? It just does the same thing twice?" Wow. I'd never thought much about that, either. It really was a folk song. And, it really basically only repeated itself and that was it.
"Well, hm. I guess this is a sorta OK song. IF YOU WANT TO BE POOR. But, I don't want to be POOR, you see. So, let's see what we can do here."
Then he took a break from his humor and dug into the my lyrics. "These lyrics are wishy washy. You keep going back and forth. And, you're using all these really weak words. And, what's with ending a line in the middle of a sentence here?"
He ran his hand over the paper and explained how I needed to feel the heat from the words and refocus on those. As his fingertips moved across the page he stopped on his hot words and said them out loud: want, truth, heart, praying, believe, faith, trust, broken, helpless.
It was amazing. I hadn't really thought about it before. Lyrics were just this thing that came out of me. I felt they were more art for me than they were craft. Maybe that's something I should be focusing on! And, I better focus fast. I go back to the studio on May 16, and I still have three songs with unfinished lyrics!
The Desmond Chld panel was wonderful all in all. He tore my song apart, but it was enlightening and educational. That's what a producer does. They take a mediocre song and make it great. I was honored for the chance to have this successful producer work with me for a while for free ON STAGE in front of a sold out crowd! Hooray!
And to think that a few days earlier I'd been thinking that I really needed some sign from the universe to tell me whether to keep making music or not!
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