This is a song about a person we all know, or rather, a type of person we all know. The drama magnet who lives to declare their hate for drama. The free spirit who doesn’t care what you think and won’t censor themselves for anybody but just can’t figure out why you don’t like having them around (“I’m just being myself!”). Their you’re best friend when it suits them, but when you have it bad, they’ll be the first to let you know that they have it worse. Politely ignore their abrasive tendencies or become part of the cult they claim is responsible for their victimhood.
They are the tragedy, waiting for the curtain to rise.
I think I’m getting better at coming back to entries from the early end of my writing career. I go in thinking “there are so many things I would do differently if I was writing this song now”, and then I realize that I can do those things differently. Which is liberating! I wrote these songs, and even if I thought at the time I had set them in stone, I can go all King Arthur on them and be the one to un-set them.
For this song, I could cop out and say I have no idea what I was writing about when I wrote it, but the truth is I remember exactly what it was about. Absolutely nothing. I liked the descending minor progression (thank you, “All Along the Watch Tower”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “House of the Rising Sun” and “Coming into Los Angeles” to name a few) and I had no idea what the words were talking about, but they sounded edgy and politically driven, so why not?
There was also a silly bridge in the song where it turned to a major key and had some (even less meaningful) throw away lines. At the time I thought the song needed something to change things up, but looking back now I found the section very out of place. So I took it out. Which I love that I can do.
Everyone falls from time to time. We fall down, we get knocked down, we knock ourselves down; no matter what initiates the push, a push is all it takes and gravity does the rest.
At first it might come as a surprise to fall, but most of the time, once you’ve reached wherever you’re falling to and the alarm from the falling process has faded, it’s not really surprising. It was just difficult to see the fall coming from way up there, or maybe it was even deliberate ignored for whatever reason.
What’s more surprising is who stops to help you up. Coming across someone who is able to give you what you need when you yourself don’t even know what that is, THAT is surprising.
This song is about falling down and getting picked up.
It’s not the first time I mentioned my dislike my the business end of the music world. Negotiating prices, trying to get a hold of whoever does the booking, waiting for replies, it can all just be a headache.
The struggle to get better at it is never ending, but I’m also always trying not to get worked up about it. Where You Been pokes fun at the business world, the general struggles of having a reputation, figuring out if it’s worth anything (and to who it might be worth something to).
The double entendre in the title sums it up. Where you’ve been might matter (and it might not) and that’s pretty much how it’s always worked. Where you been?
Low times can be surprisingly productive. While there are the days when levels of depression set in and productivity of any kind is nil, there are pockets of lowness that create the necessity of an outlet.
I spent a brief stint in Pittsburgh staying with my brother. I was between jobs (which can easily contribute to lowness) and being in a bit of a rut, I was glad for the change of scenery. A Helping Hand came along during this brief stretch. I was paying for mistakes after not listening to others and going along with things I knew weren’t doing me any favors.
Let’s face it, we all have times when we know we’re not going to manage alone (some of us more than others). A lot of the time, asking for help can be the hardest part of getting through the harder times.
The year I started college was the first year I had a live performance. There was a local coffee house that had music on Fridays and Saturdays, to which I stopped in and met the owner Renee. She booked me, which started the first of twenty some gigs I would play there over the next 5 years.
Renee was and is the big sister I never had. As a timid kid starting college, she not only gave me an opportunity to start learning to perform publicly, but was also never afraid to push me and tell me what I needed to hear, whether I wanted to hear it or not.
Right around the time I met Renee, her youngest daughter, Sophia was born, and in the following years she became a regular at the coffee house, both for my performances and to entertain customers herself.
Renee and Sophia were inspirational people to have in a very pivotal point in my life (as a person in general, but particularly as a songwriter). Renee always pushed me to break away from leaning on covers and start making my own songs. Thus, one my earliest songs was an ode to her daughter and my dear friend, Sophia.
I lament that busyness has kept me from seeing them regularly, but they always have a very special place in my heart. And should anyone ever ask where I got the motivation to be a songwriter, I can always picture Renee smiling smugly in the back of my mind.
Every song is about the songwriter in one way or another, some more directly than others. I feel Message was the first song I wrote to be open auto biography of how I wanted to go about being a songwriter, as well as the type of person I considered myself. It became like a theme song for me, and is still probably my regularly played song as a solo performer.
I don’t know where music is going to take me, but I’m letting it take me there regardless.
Even when we’re doing something we’re passionate about, things can get tiring. Everyone comes across their occasional dead ends, where what’s supposed to be fun and innovative feels like work, and anything meant to be creative may as well be mud. There’s just no avoiding those days.
The Night is Yours was a personal pep talk for just those occasions. I’ve walked away from more than a few gigs over the past decade feeling frustrated and jaded. I’ve played plenty of shows where the audience has treated me as unwelcome background noise. I’ve sang for a lot empty rooms. In those instances, it’s important for me to remember that the times in my life I have felt the most alive were walking away from shows that went better than I could ever have imagined.
And even though remembering the great successes isn’t always enough to instantly drag me out of a bout of frustration, it’s important to remember why I do this, and to remember why I’m going to keep doing this.
It’s kind of a strange phrase, isn’t it? We talk about worse times in order to help us appreciate the things we have, and we talk about better times in order to hold on to our favorable memories or maybe strive to make things great again.
I understand the value of history, and I see the value in looking back at what has and hasn’t worked. But these are our times. The present is now, and whether the past has been better or worse, our choices will decide whether or not the future is better or worse. We’re not going to the past (or if we are, we’re in trouble), so we shouldn’t be trying to relive it or trying to be use to make our current problems look less significant. We should learn from and keep moving.
Hopefully this song doesn’t feel as preachy as it felt writing this post.
Merry Christmas to all and any! This week for the song of the week, I of course needed to bring out my favorite Christmas song. The story of the Czech saint’s act of charity and battle against the elements, making it a true staple of a folk song along with being a holiday tune. Enjoy it, and I hope you’re holidays have been (and continue to be) blessed and beautiful. Merry Christmas!