Last night, I wrote a song.
I should start off by saying I have only written three songs in my life. The first song was when I was fifteen and all I wanted was to be a rock star. I was in a band. We were named Genghis Gu and the Border Ruffians. We played Led Zeppelin and Metallica covers in my friend’s basement with a borrowed drum kit. The band broke up when the drum kit was unborrowed. I played it (anxiously) for my bandmates (in particular the one I was in love with at the time). He said it sounded too much like Smashing Pumpkins. I stopped writing.
The second song I wrote two? three? years ago for a friend’s birthday. I had just learned to play the ukulele and was intrigued by how different and WRONG the chord progressions sounded. I promised her a song and promptly forgot about it, until the morning of her birthday party. So I wrote a song in a panic about how it wasn’t actually her birthday any more and the gall of her to make us pretend like it was. It went over well. The lyrics are still magnetized to her fridge. It was called “Your Vitriol Ruined My Song (or It’s Not Your Birthday)”.
The song from last night has a similarly random synthesis point. A friend on Twitter (@kmcriddle – a fellow writer and San Diegan I’d met a grand total of once) tweeted she was listening to the Mighty Ducks soundtrack. I tweeted back “Estevez for the rest of us”. Various other ridiculous tweets went back and forth before she tweeted
“Oh gosh. That made no sense. Is it midnight yet? Can I go to sleep?”
To which I responded “yes. It’s midnight in the only place it matters: Emilio estevez’s heart”
This was days before I was going to get my banjo in the mail. So she wrote “I can’t wait for the original banjo song ‘Midnight in the Only Place That Matters (Emilio Estevez’s Heart)’”
My banjo came exactly one week ago. I felt proficient enough on it last night that I could finally switch between chords without my fingers getting too confused. I was riding the high of inspiration still from the 8 in 8 project I had spent all of Monday and Tuesday watching online, so I said “fuck it,” queued up a few YouTube clips related to Emilio Estevez for research (This one in particular was almost all I needed for material, along with his Wikipedia entry) and busted out my banjo chord finder and an online chord wheel and three hours later I had written and (inexpertly) recorded this:
(permalink to the song here)
[best part of the night was actually looking up the chords to Total Eclipse of the Heart because there was a chord progression I wanted for the bridge that just didn't quite sound right on banjo that I KNEW was in that song somewhere - the literal video didn't help]
I have spent years actively running away from writing songs, but you know what? It was actually fun last night and the nearly 18 years I’ve spent playing instruments meant it was not too hard to actually do.
Now the goal is to have the next song I write be even better (for that, stay tuned next for next month’s challenge).