Thursday, September 22, 2005

Spouse Is Not A Song Word

In 1990, right around there, I was writing some grim songs. My second marriage was going down, slowly but surely, and what was coming out of my pen was, well, looking back, kinda depressing. One song, “Knocks the Heart”, was a favourite of mine, however sad....

“All our friends in the neighborhood,
They see us walkin’ by, smilin’, lookin’ good
Peekin’ out from their window couch,
They see a beautiful lady and her perfect spouse
But they don’t see the tears when you close your heart on me
And they don’t know that conflict is our only history
And lover, when you’re on my arm and flash contented eyes,
They believe our masquerade, they see our disguise and...........

It knocks the heart out of me, it knocks the soul out of me
We always manage to sabotage romance
It knocks the heart out of me, now honey don’t you agree
Sometimes you wanna be free”

I recorded the song in Seattle with my friend Larry at his studio. Larry plays keys and the track was very pretty, albeit morose.

In those days, still ultra busy with my bakery business, I was sending songs away for publishing, hoping for someone else to publish, and record them. I sent “Knocks the Heart” to several publishers, and though none of them published the song, I did receive a lot of feedback. Most publishers who passed had something good to say, and some were kind enough to send a critique.

One publisher, who wrote a particularly lengthy and instructive critique, suggested that I strike the word “spouse”. His criticism included the sentence, “spouse is not a song word.” It struck me funny, because, although I did get his point, “spouse is not a song word”, to a word guy, is a great phrase. I never forgot it.

Anyway, suffice it to say, I haven’t been very good about keeping words like “spouse”, and other “non-song words”, out of my songs. In fact, over my songwriting career, I think I may have broken the song word mold. What really got me going on this topic is that I wrote a new song this week, titled “A Thousand Songs”, which includes the word “modicum”. I love that. If you pick up my next CD, “Who Come Down?”(there will be two new CDs out soon), you will hear me crooning the words "winnowing", "pontificating", "diatribe", "quiescently", and "Tillamook", among others. But I promise, there isn’t even one song as weepy as “Knocks the Heart”.

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