I know I keep telling ya’ll I’m a songwriter, this thing that I have figured out about myself. But I haven’t supplied much proof beyond links to a few songs. A few songs does not a songwriter make. Bear with me as I get my ideas into action, and you will have the bread of my soul laid before you as proof. Grab a chair, stay a spell. Believers and Dreamers go hand in hand.
When my youngest nibblet, Fern was born, I bore the idea of recording my songs as videos and uploading them to the YouTube. Stall as I may, that has never happened. I did make a few videos, and I posted a couple to Facebook, but the sharing never crossed over into the YouTube channel, as I did not fjord that stream.
Mostly, I found that the making of the video made me nervous. Cameras make me squeem and make me lose focus. Couple that sentiment with the gallop of children wearing requests on their tongues like thirsty donkeys, interruptions during the video taping processess were abundant. There are frequent short takes where either I have deemed myself too mistaken to press on, or I am competing babies crawling over my shoulders, into my lap, and emitting noises that are the funniest in the world, apparently. ( I tried to upload a segment of the silliness, but had technical difficulties. )
Last night, I had a revelation.
I decided to record the Lucinda Williams cover I have recently learned how to play. I don’t know how to play many cover songs.
I started to teach myself how to play guitar when I was 23. I taught myself not by learning chords and other people’s songs, but by writing songs myself. I played the guitar strings with one finger, that I would move to hit and make the right note. Gradually that became me playing with two fingers. When someone informed me of a way to cheat, I began playing with three fingers and chord formations that made veteran guitar players have to pause and use their musical theories to figure out what note it was that I was strumming. I certainly didn’t know, only that it sounded like it worked. I wrote perhaps twenty or more songs using my simplified chords.
Jon Flanary taught me how to play “Dead Flowers” by The Rolling Stones with my cheating chords. That must have been when I was 27, four years after I’d started playing and building up my song arsenal. A couple years after that I learned how to play “Greenville” by Lucinda Williams using those same substandard chord formations.
Now I play just regular old chords, and I know their names, as I’ve picked them up over the years. I still don’t know how to play a good “B” without a capo, though. I have bones missing from my wrist that make playing a B-chord a curse worthy task.
The revelation is this. When I decided to record this cover of this Lucinda Williams song last night, after a few rounds of singing a few bars and making excuses to start over, I stopped.
I looked at myself in the screen of my computer, saw myself staring right back at me, and I told myself it was time to get down to business. I told myself to make a change, and to stop being so dag on aware of the camera. Since I heard that a camera steals a little piece of your soul every time it takes your picture, I’ve been a hesitant participant of the lens. I make awkward faces, I drop my eyes. I make a noise that mumbles, “iiiidohwannaahh”.
This all changed last night, with a quick breath. I hit the record button, sang and played without hitch, conquered the red eye.
Proudly, without procrastination, I decided to come share the video on this site, but questioned what sense it made for a person claiming to be a songwriter to have their first musical entry of their site be a cover song. While questioning the point, I ended up writing something entirely different about business school, staplers, and the moon gods.
Throughout the day I’ve considered the logic, and concluded that one reason it does makes sense to have my first foray into the video-blogosphere be a cover song is that everybody likes cover songs. They are safe, they are known. They are bridges that build a connection. They are sung in the hearts of many. They are interpreters of human connection.
I’ve explained myself well enough. You all are all hip. This is one of three covers I can play. It’s “Learning How to Live”, by Lucinda Williams. Presented to you with real chords. Sponsored by the Dell Inspiron.
That’s it for now. It’s bedtime in the kingdom.