On Co-Writing a Song for the Next CD

After my November Horizon House show a young man from the audience asked me if I could turn something he’d written for his girlfriend into a song. I said I might be able to and asked him if he had written it down.

He says “Yes. I’ve got about 5 pages.” Yikes!

I’ve been having the most incredible songwriting fun for the past two days!

After my November Horizon House show a young man from the audience asked me if I could turn something he’d written for his girlfriend into a song. I said I might be able to and asked him if he had written it down. He says “Yes. I’ve got about 5 pages.” Yikes!

But then he pulls out these little pieces of paper about the size of that notepad that Columbo used to keep in his coat pocket. Whew! I looked them over for a minute.

“I know it’s a love song, but you need a consistent theme. It kind of goes all over the place, and a good pop song has a focus; a recurring theme. Does that make sense?”

Shannon, a staff member, was listening and when Daniel said “Yes, that makes sense”, she said she would help him as he worked through a rewrite. Then I asked them to type it so I wouldn’t misread something. I was a bit nervous since it’s enough of a challenge for me to write my own songs.

After the show this past Thursday Shannon handed Daniel a piece of paper from the printer, and as he turned to me I recalled our chat. He looked a little shy now that the moment had come to share these intimate thoughts in this new way, or maybe he felt like he would be imposing on me.

“Are those your lyrics, Daniel?” I smiled, and he kept the piece of paper at his side.

“Yes.”

“Is that my copy?”

He looked up with a smile. “Yes.”

“Okay, I’m on it. No promises about how long it might take though. Okay?”

“Okay. Thanks.”

I scanned the page and saw a lot of repetition; a LOT of repetition. He had taken the theme idea to heart. But I knew right away I could work with what he had written, because he had some really great lines in there; some really great poetry.

“Okay. Look, I might have to shift some things around, and cut some of the repetition out. I might change some words to help with the way it flows, or the way it rhymes. But I’ll keep it true to what you’ve written. Once I get my adaptation done I’ll let you look at it, to be sure it’s what you want. Cool?”

He had lit up like a Christmas tree. “Yes. Thank you, Greg.”

Friday morning I grabbed the guitar and started banging out some chord progression ideas that worked with his theme then set to work on the lyrics, honing and shaping them into a pop song sort of verse/chorus format.

It’s been a little over 24 hours since I sat down with it and I’m rather in awe of how easily it went. My own songs take days and weeks to craft and shape, but this one really came together – a testament to the quality of the poetry he gave me, and his dedication to theme.

I’m not due back until January, but I may well make some time to drive down and sit with him to give it a test drive. If he likes it I’ll have some time to rehearse before the next show, and if all goes well I’ll debut the song for him and his friends, and especially his girlfriend, in January.

What an honor this experience has been. Thanks Daniel! Hope you like it bro…

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