Episode #174: Falter (Song starts at 3.35)
I had a conversation yesterday with Paul Dredge, my co songwriter, long time buddy and sounding board (always good to have one or a few of these that you can trust just to listen or offer sound measured advice).
We had a laugh together about how a lot of my first 50 or 100 songs were pretty much ‘ baby I love you’. Baby I’ll miss you, or howling at the moon …yep. Love songs. Nothing wrong with that. (Song# 637, Falter, featured on this episode. It’s a love song).
Except maybe it’s a good idea to try different subjects, perhaps imagining yourself further down the track, effectively creating a character, a new outlook, a new dialogue.
So the very act of the creative work can help us learn, get outside of ourselves and grow.
The flip side of that is writing about ‘the now’. It can be fall into the category of therapy/diary writing. As a performer, if your songs are not overly engaging an audience, perhaps this is something to look out for.
I tend to start a song with a very basic sentence about something real I can see in the room or some thought that pops into my mind that feels truthful.
Generally this will then lead on to the bigger picture, as I step back and consider my position. At this point in time, the listener has had a dose of both views. The bigger view may cause the listener to engage and perhaps become emotionally attached to some concept, perhaps one of the personal confessions of the earlier sentences in the first verse.
This is a trick stand up comedians often use. When they first get on stage and open their mouth they’ll often confess something deeply personal… it might be trauma, something embarrassing, etc. the audience is engaged. They feel something, they put themselves in that person’s shoes and think wow, that poor person. And wow, how brave are they to get up there and talk about it. Ok. I’m ready to be entertained.
That is what a song can do, the entertainment on offer is a story – and a story is pretty much all, as I touched on last week. It needs to be going somewhere. And where it goes is from an island of now, (an island of certainty), then a question is posed, perhaps in the lyrics, or just in the lyricist’s mind for the next ‘island’.
Falter begins with observations: how the writer ( myself ) feels about a person, the relationship, how the days flow easily.. love.
Then drawing attention to how unconditionally pure the love is that is being felt by the writer.
The step from there is the statement, perhaps the realisation: hmm, I think I’d falter without you in my life.
The idea that two people have built a relationship like a structure and if 50% of that input and commitment were suddenly to be taken away, the structure would collapse.
Note that it’s not: ‘Oh baby I’d die without you… or I can’t live without you’.
This is the voice of an older writer. A few years have passed and a few songs have been written since those first 50 (when a few of these sort of songs may have been written.
The message here is: you’re wonderful, I’d miss you. Yes I’d fall apart, but I’d rebuild and carry on. It’s not what I’d choose.
The idea being is it’s a song about love freely received and freely given, rather than a codependent struggle of wills. Something like that.
The music came at the same time as the words for this one. The melody of the first verse came to me on the breeze as I walked a long. I whistled it to memorise the intervals, the meter , the feeling, then noted it down as I picked the notes out on the piano.
From there, the beginning, the feeling, it all came into being by asking a series of gentle questions about where the story was going, the music follows like a movie the song grows and a series of intuitive decisions are made – some logical, others not so much.
It all builds to a tapestry, something cohesive, hopefully an honest piece of work that’s a little different to anything that already exists.
It’s a fascinating process ..and it’s fun. Join me now for some very laidback chat as I also demonstrate bits and pieces on the piano & perform the song.
Here’s falter. Enjoy. (Lyrics here www.petepascoe.wordpress.com)