Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Song 2

Woohoo! as Blur might say. Woohoo!

In an earlier post, I described a tongue-in-cheek formula for composing songs. Although I don't write them anymore--I don't play guitar anymore either or do math for that matter, so you do it--I'd written scores, if you'll pardon the pun, without benefit of the formula, which, in brief, states songs require 3 verses, a chorus & a bridge. The following example, one of the last pieces I wrote back in my days of guitars & psychosis, has 4 verses, no chorus & no bridge; a simple 3 chord progression in whatever key suits your fancy, with a few minor chords thrown in for variety, it's called "You Again."

I didn't have a friend & my dog was dead when I checked into the motel.
Before I saw you that night I thought I'd take my life on a handful of pills,
but you were acutely aware & astute & I started to wonder
right there & then if my ship had come in or had it already gone under.

In addition to setting the scene, the first verse (in poetry we'd probably call it a "stanza," another distinction, albeit one of semantics, between the genres) establishes a pattern of both internal & end rhymes (mostly slant) maintained throughout the song. For instance, in line 1, "friend" rhymes with "dead"; in line 2, "night" rhymes with "life" while "motel" rhymes with "pills." That pattern, if you're scoring at home or even if you're alone, is xx xx y / zz zz y.

Technical stuff aside, as for the narrative, the lonely, suicidal singer meets someone who somehow knows he's planning to kill himself & means to stop him. With no rational explanation how she would know his plans or why she'd show up now, much less care about him, the singer wonders if she isn't perhaps a product of his drug overdose--or perhaps he, like his figurative dog, is already dead.

Yeah, you were a ship & we took a trip from New York to Port-au-Prince.
We tossed & turned like the ocean & burned incense for ambiance.
I remember the night we saw the lights on the shore with the tourists.
You took my hand, we strolled down the strand & disappeared in the mist.

Here, the verse is an extended metaphor comparing sex to a sea cruise. I find it amusing naming the specific route "from New York to Port-au-Prince" as if it were some obscure double-entendre. Also, I like that it rhymes with "ambiance." When the singer & his anonymous lover "disappeared in the mist," it symbolizes both sex--the afterglow, so to speak--& death, reminding us of the attempted suicide.

When I woke up & looked down in my cup, the non-dairy creamer
afloat on the top was symbolic I thought that I'd just been dreaming,
so I took a walk to try to cool off before I went off the deep end.
As I talked to myself, I couldn't help if I felt that I'd just lost my best friend.

It's at this juncture, using a harmonica holder like Dylan did back in the day, I'd squawk on my mouth harp while strumming along to the melody because I can't play lead guitar. I mean, go figure--I practice guitar almost everyday for 10 years & other than a few boogie rifts & "Sunshine of Your Love," I'm strictly rhythm.

Anyway, the next day, the singer sees it all as a dream, but still feels the pangs of lost love. I should point out the enjambment of the first line, breaking the typical pattern of end-stops--which I discuss in my earlier entry as one of the major distinctions between songs & poems--but frankly, I'm tired of doing what I should, so you'll have to notice of your own accord while I continue with the song:

Years have gone by & I didn't die that I can remember
& I've been with a few others too who were dreaming I'm sure.
For this universe is often perverse, but it's all that we're given
& maybe one night--who knows--I just might dream about you again.

Had I written this narrative as a poem, among other numerous changes, most notably disencumbering it of rhymes, I would have omitted this last--complete with moral--passage, but as far as the song goes, it works well enough. If nothing else, it provides the title, so why question it?

Perhaps it goes without saying, but to be clear let me say again that songs are not poems. Why, then, you may ask, did I decide to include this song on my poetry blog? Probably the main reason is that while many of my poems have been published, none of my songs have ever been seen--or rather heard--outside of live performances. Let's call it ego.

Also, this is my blog, so stop hassling me, man.

3 comments:

Riley said...

You should do some songs at your next poetry reading and really confuse people.

Matt Morris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Morris said...

Ha, yeah, but most of the confusion would be with me. I not only don't play guitar anymore, but I can't play. Well, not well. It takes practice. Lots & lots. However, upon further review, I've decided my concern about my songs getting short shrift was perhaps misplaced. Back then, I played before much bigger audiences than I normally give readings to these days. Further, certainly more people heard me sing & play than I suppose read my blog.