Rhymes: Blessing or Curse?

So, here’s a ramble about writing. I’ve been listening to songwriters for the past couple of years or so. Okay, my whole life, but this is different. “Songwriters.” People who write songs. They work on their craft. They don’t wait for the lightning to strike (did we already talk about waiting for the lightning?).

I think it started with a public television show or series about songwriters. They had a couple of legends playing and talking about writing. Then, for the tag at the end they showed an “up and coming” writer guy. And he absolutely blew me away. I spent hours looking for him on the interwebs, because he was so good I assumed he must be all over it. Finally found a myspace page. Myspace. That was it. Finding the famous country guy who took his song and made it a hit (of sorts) was easy. But finding the writer was much more difficult.

Then I went off in search of the writer of a song somebody won American Idol with. Again, finding the famous hit was easy. But figuring out who wrote the song and then finding her version of the song was tough.

There was a third song that sent me off in search of the writer and his version (and vision) of the song. As opposed to the American Idol version (again, with the American Idol). I like his better.

I’ve also found some great music in the closing credits of tv shows sometimes. Again, hard to find and eventually I find a Myspace page with no or out-of-date info, kinda like mine.

During these searches, YouTube was a big help. And I would spend hours clicking on the “if you like this, you might also like these” things on the right. So I found stuff that would never have come across my radar. More writers. Behind the scenes. Or simply not yet famous. But they’re writing beautiful songs and not enough people know about them.

So now we get to the heart of the title of this post. Many of these beautiful, wonderful songs by writers who are “craftspeople” don’t always rhyme as much as you’d think. Some of these people get called “modern-day poets” and “speaking for the new generation” and stuff like that. It must be incredibly freeing to not be compelled to rhyme. I do not for one second mean to imply that these modern-day poets have it easy or anything. They are incredibly talented people who have a gift and they are kind enough to share it with the rest of us.

I must rhyme. I simply must. And I’ll paint myself into a corner by writing a verse with weird rhymes in the middle of a line, not just at the end, so now I hafta write the next verse with the same internal rhyme. It limits the number of words at my disposal. Then I come up with a good line, but it fails the rhyme-test, so I don’t use it. There are times I’ve let it go and kept the line. But every time I get to that line, a little piece of me cringes. Which then begs the question: “Am I trying to say something or am I writing a song?” And what if I tried doing both? Huh.

Songs Are Like Children

Songs are like children. Sometimes they’re like twins. When I’m on a spree, writing a bunch of songs all at the same time, I notice that perhaps two of them are (in my head) the same damn song. It’s completely accidental, but for instance, right now I have two 12/8 waltzes going. No, they’re not in the same key. No, they’re not even the same tempo. But I was shaving and humming one of them and then when I wasn’t paying attention, I had switched and I noticed I was humming the other one. I’d never thought of them as even remotely similar until then.

Now, the twin thing is interesting. Sometimes one of the songs will eat the other one and there’s only one song left (two songs enter; one song leaves). The stronger one consumes the weaker sibling, uses it for parts, and maybe grabs a couple of lyrics from the weaker one, maybe a bridge or something too.

Other times, I end up with two songs. And maybe I’m the only one who thinks they’re the same, maybe not. But then I play them very far apart during a show so (in my head) nobody will notice that they’re the same damn song. When I was preparing songs for TABLE 10, I played a bunch for my producer Jon Nolan and I told him I was going to play two songs that are the same damn song. He didn’t hear it. He did not hear them as the same song at all. They didn’t both end up on the CD (actually, did either of them end up on the CD?) and I do play them both live. And, based on his ear, I no longer think of them as the same damn song. He wouldn’t lie to me or be wrong.

This leads me to a confession. “Broken Wheels” is an example of a stronger twin. The two memorable hooks in that song came from another song that I now can’t bother to finish because I’ve already used those two memorable hooks in “Broken Wheels.” So, “Average Love Song” will remain on the scrapheap. It’s kinda too bad. I had higher hopes for that one than “Broken Wheels.” Oh well.