NOTE: The June 2019 challenge did include additional, optional musical prompts. More on that in an upcoming post.
Sometimes ideas for songs just come to me. Mostly that’s what happens. But sometimes it’s good to seek them out.
I’ve done that every now and then- last year one time I went through the free local newspaper in a cafe, jotting down choice phrases. Out of some of those
came a song called “Shooting Stars”, which is on my new album “Points of View”.
In March I participated in Songfancy’s 5 in 5 Songwriting challenge (https://www.facebook.com/groups/5in5songchallenge/) based on
lyrical prompts provided. Doing that, I wrote four songs (and one co-write) that I otherwise wouldn’t have written, so it was a worthwhile
exercise for that reason alone.
During the week of the challenge, our internet provider at home went AWOL. This made it hard to get the prompts and impossible to post anything in a timely manner. So no, I didn’t write five songs in five days, nor did I even write them in the order in which the prompts appeared.
The first song I wrote was based on a list of words including “graceful”, “glass”, “coast”, and “refract”. It became “Some Kind of Escape Plan.” ( I will re-post this song a bit later.)
Another word list, including “delicate”, “linen”, “misty”, “leaf” and “leaning” resulted in the words for “Leaves in Waves”. Setting these
words to music took a couple of tries each and some finessing- I’m nowhere near as melodically gifted as Elton John, who’s reputed to set all the lyrics
given to him to music in 15 minutes or less. But the recordings came out nice, at least.
The prompt “how did we not get caught?” led to one of my very few story songs, about an old man who had an affair many years ago, whose wife has since passed on
and who now sometimes meets his old mistress for tea. It’s called, of course, ‘How Did We Never Get Caught?”
I was already playing around with words for a song about not giving up in the face of harsh difficulties when I got the prompt “staying in”, so I
came up with “Stay in the Game”. I’m still working on that one.
But another participant in the challenge came up with lyrics on the theme of ‘staying in’ called “Love is Staying in (Me)”, which I set to music.
It’s one of those pretty, sad, wistful songs.
None of these songs would have emerged in the form in they did without the Challenge. And it was good to actually collaborate on a song with someone.
If I have a criticism to make of 5 in 5, it’s that all the prompts were lyrical. Sarah Spencer, the songwriter behind the challenge, added optional musical cues for the June Challenge, of which more later…