I've had songs lying around for years. Some of them weren't interesting enough for me to try and "fix". But others have taken on new life and meaning because I was willing to come back to them and work out the kinks.
I was reading an article by Steve Cook on revising your own songs. Very interesting reading, I must admit. I've always had trouble being objective about my music, but this little lecture outline included some questions on diagnosing your songs that seem quite helpful. Here are a few of them. (Click here and you can download the entire article yourself.)
Is the song focused? Are there unclear phrases? Is the opening line strong. Does the music match the lyric? Is it easy to remember without being "run of the mill".
All that said, I still believe there's nothing better than having someone else you trust and respect to listen to your songs and give feedback. Not just anyone mind you. A lot of people are so "wow'd" by anyone who even attempts to write that they'll tell you it's great even when it's not. Some won't tell you because they don't like criticism; giving it or taking it.
But finding someone who can help you re-write is like finding a tennis partner who's at least as good as you. Play with them, and you'll only improve your game whether you win or lose.
(I couldn't decide whether these thoughts should end up on my songwriter blog or my journal called "The Journey So Far" so I put it both places. Courtesy of the Department of Redundancy Department.)
The last several days I've been plowing through the difficult Old Testament book of Lamentations. Actually, I found out it's not a book. It's a poem: five chapters with 22 verses like an acrostic, each starting with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
I always thought acrostics were a little hokey. But then a lot of people think the blues are hokey. Down and out stories as simple as the music they're sung to. But no matter where I've played in the world, people relate to it. Maybe it's because we can all relate to life being hard.
Anyway, back to Lamentations. It's a poem that drives home the dire consequences of rebellion against God.
In yesterday's reading, the writer says (kind of anyway) "Ain't got no mo' freedom (1:1), no mo' friendships (1:2), no mo'glory (1:6), no mo' treasures (1:7), no mo' protection (1:15), no mo' dignity (1:8-9), no mo' provisions (1:11) no mo' strength (1:14), no mo' comfort (1:3,21) and no mo' inner peace (1:20). Now dat's da blues.
Fortunately, today, as continued on I finally got the the bridge. That's the part of the blues where you get a little change of pace, a little glimmer of something new.
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD."
There is no doubt that the author of these poems sees the depth of Jerusalem's sin, and the just consequences that have befallen her. And yet...
There's a place in the heart for hope. Not wishful thinking. Facts that point to hope in the midst of disaster. Because of the Lord's great love, his compassions never fail. Not now, not ever. Because he is is faithful, God's promises never fail.
If my fate is God's hands, then I'll wait for him, seek after him, hope in him and wait for the salvation He will surely bring. And keep singing.