After concentrating on writing songs that had deep, provocative and meaningful subject matter for years, I recently came to the conclusion that I needed to start writing songs that people might actually want to listen to. Ha!
I know when I plug in my iPod to drive to work, I am forever skipping ahead to the songs that make me groove, feel good, and forget about my worries. This is a type of song that I want to write.
I want to write the song that you put on your stereo when you’re getting ready for a hot Saturday night date. I want to write the song that you pop on the stereo during a dinner party after the tequila shots have gone around. I want to write a song that people use to get them pumped up for a workout.
Lately, as many of you know I’ve been trying to gear myself up to be prepared for the volume of writing that needs to occur before one can call themselves a full-time professional songwriter. To that end, I’ve been co-writing with a lot of different people. I’m just trying to figure out who I work best with and understand the methods that work best for me when song writing.
Last week, on one of my days off, I went to my very good friend Joel’s house. Joel lives in one of the artsy areas of New Orleans in a beautiful Victorian shotgun house.
Joel and his husband Ed, are both musical encyclopedias. Joel, being a professional musician, obviously has all the harmonic knowledge that his husband Ed doesn’t, but Ed is no slouch. They are both able to identify rare melodies, wax about vintage pop music, and have a record collection to die for. Ed is also a phonograph collector and has different record players ranging from the earliest to the newest models.
Joel and I sat down at the piano and I had told Joel that I wanted to write a song about feeling positive about your body. I want to right a song that women, or really anyone, can relate to regarding the discrepancy of what you see in the mirror versus what you feel like inside.
I also had the idea of wanting to write a song that was based on suspended harmony. This is a concept of a harmony being comprised of non root based chords.
In other words, dallying round the four and the five chords, or any of the chords that aren’t the root, and then finally having the tonic “pay off” in the chorus.
So many hit pop songs have used this formula ranging from the Stevie Nicks era, to the modern day Katy Perry pop song.
We sat down and played around with some harmonies along this suspended harmony idea, and pretty soon had a good structure for a verse. We then wrote a pre chorus which had the same harmonic idea, and then topped off with a strong chorus.
When we were finished we realized that we had completed a song in just about 2 hours. Not too bad! Especially for co-writing for the very first time together. Of course, Joel and I have worked together for many years at Pat O’Briens piano bar, but we’ve never done anything on this level of creativity together.
When we were done with our song, I had the thought that this song would be a great song for the gay community. I know that the gay community is very loyal and once they become your fans, very supportive for life.
I hope once we’re finished, we can maybe approach local gay dance clubs about playing our track on the weekends. I hope this comes true!