Tales of 14-Songs-in-14-Days: The First Days are not Necessarily the Hardest

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by Jan Seides
Tuesday 6th March, 2012, 6:34pm

There’s really no explanation for people subjecting themselves this kind of insanity, but I’ll do my best to tell you how it began.

Pat Pattison is a Professor at Berklee College of Music, where he teaches Lyric Writing and Poetry. He comes to Austin, Texas twice a year to teach a workshop for local songwriters. I usually attend, and so I was present in April of 2010, when he mentioned that one of his Berklee students was challenging herself to write a song a day for 14 days. All around the room, heads rose up, and you could almost hear people thinking “I want to do that!”

So that evening, as all of the workshop attendees were drinking in the hotel bar (This may be a significant factor), we worked out the parameters of our challenge. We would write the song, record it, and have share it with the others in the group each day by midnight. Jean offered to set up a way for us to share our songs.  Katie offered to coordinate the group.  Then we all went home to try and figure out what in the world made us volunteer, and worry about whether or not we really wanted to put our songs where our mouths was.

All except Jean, who already had her first song.

I began with a song about the city where I spent my childhood. I decided to write about Detroit because I watched a movie called Grand Torino and realized about halfway through it that I was giving a great deal of attention to the scenery, trying to figure out where in Detroit it was taking place. Looking for familiar things, which, of course, are long gone.

From there I moved on to an little ditty about my daughter’s boyfriend, a song about my garden (written in my garden!), and a song about the song that got away.  Everything was going pretty smoothly, although I was still wondering why I had volunteered for this. Several of the other people had written songs about the project, which I considered cheating, but some were pretty funny. My favorite was Kit’s tune called “Just a Song”, about being self conscious. The best part of it was the bridge, which was “I don’t have a bridge. Do I really need a bridge?” over gorgeous chords.

At the end of the second week, I was to fly to New York to see my daughter. I got on the plane, set my spiral notebook on my lap, blank page at the ready. And stared at it. For a long time. That thing they refer to as “The Tyranny of the Blank Page” is very real, and very intimidating. “How’s this going to work?”, I thought to myself. Suddenly the woman in the seat next to me said to her friend next to her, “You know … flying is actually impossible.”  A little smile crept across my face, so I kept it turned away from her. “Thank you”, I said to the universe.  Thereafter, I wrote down most of the conversation in shorthand, so they wouldn’t know what I was doing if they happened to look over my shoulder. I felt profoundly grateful to the high school teacher who taught me shorthand at that moment. I do hope she was well rewarded, wherever she is …..

There were three days left of the project when I got on that plane, and so the last three songs were written in New York. They all ended up on my newest CD, which will be released this year. Here’s a rough mix of the one written that day on the plane.

Flying To New York City

Category: Music, Uncategorized

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5 Comments

May 2012

Saturday 5th, 11:38am

Wow! Awesome fluidity, such freedom of melody in both the vocal and the sax part. Makes me feel like there is a peaceful spot in NYC. Maybe folks there should relax from the hustle and bustle more often and listen to your music.

May 2012

Saturday 5th, 11:39am

When is the 14 songs in 14 days coming back around?

Author Comment

May 2012

Saturday 5th, 11:53am

by Jan Seides

Thanks, Skip! The sax is being played by Jeff Barnes, a dear friend, and a member of the band Brave Combo.

The next 14 days project is being planned right now. It's either in June or July.

Author Comment

May 2012

Monday 7th, 7:51pm

by Jan Seides

Jan--

Love your blog, and the first line of your Flying to New York City song actually made me burst out laughing, so thanks for that. It was definitely a bright spot in a not great day.

Cheers to you and your music,
Amy Coffman
www.reverbnation.com/amycoffman
www.everythingthatrises.us

Author Comment

May 2012

Monday 7th, 7:53pm

by Jan Seides

Thank you, Amy! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Hope your day improves.

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