Friday, December 18, 2009

Partying With Songwriters

A writer/musician friend of mine invited me to a holiday party for Utah-based Nashville songwriters, producers, etc. I just had to go, if nothing else, out of curiosity. And it sounded like fun.

They said to bring a holiday song to share.

For several days, I tried to come up with something brilliant, but couldn't. Finally, I realized my song Wishing On a Star could be changed to Wishing on A Christmas Star.

Voila, a holiday song.

I don't know what I expected, I guess a mansion on a hill somewhere, not the modest two-story I came to.

The already assembled crowd of about 20 people was gregarious, welcoming. Songwriters are an interesting breed. They have the sensibility of writers - introverted and poetic - and yet always looking for a public forum to showcase their work.

I love mingling with other writers, don't get me wrong. But the combination of music and writing is just so much more multi-dimensional, I'd have to say songwriters seem a more dynamic bunch. Not so angsty.

Our host's living room was set up for a mini-concert hall. Chairs facing the fireplace and a multitude of instruments. After two men performed their compositions, I stood up and asked the last person if I could borrow his bowl-backed Ovation.

Changing the lyrics the last minute was crazy. I kind of messed up on a few and didn't exactly rhyme my verses. But my chorus was strong. And I got through the song. Polite applause at the end, with a compliment about my voice.

What I learned:

Don't tweak lyrics at the last minute. If you do, offer your performance as part of a comedy routine.

Relax. I felt tense, hunched over my borrowed guitar and I'm sure that didn't do my voice a favor.

Polish. A group of songwriters is no karaoke bar. Their expectations are slightly higher than the average adoring family party.

Have fun. At the same time, music is for everyone, not just some exclusive group. So what if your song isn't a certain style? Who says one style is correct?

Play anyway. I re-learned the guitar just to write this song. I could've been like the girl in front of me who said she had a song but didn't have music for it. She could have played her song with tambourines.

Bring your own instrument, if possible. That's the operative word: if possible. I am still saving up for a nicer guitar. I could have brought mine, but at least if I sucked I could only blame it on my singing, not my guitar.

Study. Create. Learn. Repeat. I have a lot to learn still, but meanwhile, I will perform at the level I can.

I don't know if I'll stay involved with the group, but I know I will continue to write songs. Maybe even collaborate with my friend.


Jannie Funster said...

I like the idea of bringing one's own instrument if possible. It is nice to be familiar.

Congrats, Jewel, on just "Doing It."