Here in Nashville the Songwriter is King. Or Queen. Or Prince. Whether we’re Grammy winners or aspirers, we are ubiquitous. We are cashiers, baristas, merchants at hipster specialty stores in 12South. Those of us who were lucky enough to have come up in the age of the album cut don’t necessarily have a second job. Either way we’re from the same cloth. #Respect.
I'm passing through. I hope to be a Queen too. Even if it’s just for a week.
I call an Uber. Or is it a Lyft? I’m not sure. (I’ve been trying to figure out which is better.) A minivan pulls up. Driver is large, clean, tattooed, friendly, bearded. I ride shotgun. Why not? I’m friendly too.
He asks what I do (for a living.) Now sometimes, when I prefer anonymity, I just say I'm a "writer” and let them guess what it is I write. But who am I kidding? If I’ve chosen to sit in the front seat—up close and personal—maybe deep down I want him to know who I am.
I tell him. I write songs. Oh, and I’m an author of a book about writing songs. Heck…I can't forgo an an opportunity to whip out that business card and sell a book, now can I?
Ugh. Have I become that girl? Yes.
But wait! Uber driver is a Songwriter too. No Way!
He flips down his visor to reveal a slotted sheath filled with CDs. “Can I play you something?” I’m not sure I have a choice.
It’s a spoken word piece over a musical bed. Sonics are not ideal and I strain to understand the words especially when Waze starts spewing directions…"in 500 feet make a right.”
When we get to my destination driver asks that question I used to dread.: “Have you written anything I’d know?” But now I love that question. It gives me a chance to say that in fact, I have.
I tell him, “Bitch.” And he says, “Really? My wife loves that song. We were just listening to it the other day.” And I want to kiss him and his tattoos and his beard.
It’s nice to feel like I've contributed to the quality of a stranger's life. We are a dime a dozen in this town. When I was coming of age in NYC, before technology made it possible for there to be so many more Songwriters, we were a novel few. Yellow Cab drivers rarely made small talk—their job performance and your ride experience didn't boil down to a rating on an App. They just drove. They got us to where we wanted to go.
Four hours later my session is a total bust. Three ideas and we couldn’t get hard. We parted without any eargasm to speak of. Even well seasoned writers come up empty sometimes. They might not tell you that but I will.
The next the day I write a smash. Well, that remains to be seen. But I love it and that counts. The SongSex was amazing. I am restored.
Over to Belmont University where I talk to students about my bumpy career—the few hits that changed my life and the thousands of other songs I consider “rehearsals.” One student wants me to know that “Who You Are” got her through a heart wrenching time and she wipes tears from her eyes remembering. I can’t thank her enough for telling me that.
On to Two Old Hippies for my book reading. The room is empty. The room fills up. This is good because a minute ago I was nervous that nobody would show. I play “Stumble,” a song I wrote with Greg Wells for Natasha Bedingfeild, on my guitar. I just learned how to play this song. I’m trying to operate outside of my comfort zone.
I lavish my 15 minutes of fame for about an hour and a half.
I sign books. Everyone leaves. The room is empty again. I gather my stuff and head to Burger Up for well, a burger. At the bar I sit alone and scroll my Facebook feed. You’re never alone if you can scroll a Facebook feed.
I overhear the waiter say something to someone about Christina Aguilera. I take the opportunity to mention that I wrote “What A Girl Wants”. He lights up. He asks my name and reaches to shake my hand. I feel more relevant than I did when I walked in. I stop scrolling Facebook.
Young and Pretty bartender says that last beer was on her cuz she loves my song too. Bless her.
I pay my bill and leave a business card with the receipt. Of course I do. Buy my book. Buy my book!
On my way to the airport in the morning, the Lyft driver asks me what I’m in town for. I pause. It’s been a long week. I’m tired. Ready to sleep in my own bed. “A little work. A little pleasure,” I reply. Vague. I’m in the back seat now.
Airport security guy sees my books in my carry on through the X-ray machine and comments, “You must be a Songwriter.” Maybe it’s actually the guitar that gives me away?
“Yup. That I am.” If a business card were handy, you know I’d give him one.
I lug my carry-on fulla books into a Starbucks not realizing I’ve left the secured area and I must go through security again. Hi yes it’s me the Songwriter. Ronny, my literary editor, once told me not to underestimate the weight of a carry-on fulla of books. Now I believe her.
I check the stupid bag at the gate. No way I’m gonna be able to lift that thing into an overhead.
Greg Wells is on the plane. This is a sign that the Universe is pleased that I fought my fear and played our song “Stumble.”
At baggage claim….a Facebook follower recognizes me from these blogs. I am over the moon. When I started blogging, I wanted to find like minds and apparently it worked.
My life as a Songwriter teeters between the desire to remain anonymous and the wish for the world to know exactly who I am. I like it here in the in between.