Chateau Marouatte. Day 4—reporting in.
I know I said I’d never participate in a song camp again (see chapter of the same name—"Kum Ba Yah"—in my book), but I reserved the right to change my mind. And I changed my mind. This camp was the right time (I needed to get back into bed with my tribe—songwriters—because writing a book took me on a slight detour for a couple of years). And this camp is the right place, (I mean…look at the pictures. And look at lunch!)
I first came to Bordeaux for castle festivities in the early '90s. There were about 21 of us then just like there are now. But we looked different. We dressed different. Talked different. The world…was different. We were divided into the same small groups but there was only one studio and we had to share it. Imagine that.
Conversely, in 2016, with a studio in every laptop, as long as there’s another room, there’s a place to work. (And trust me, every corner turned is another room. This place is Huge.)
Twenty-some-odd years ago I was one of the younger campers—eyes wide open and learning from seasoned veterans with big hits. Today I’m an elder statesmen and because technology and pop culture have given way to a much younger talent pool, there are very few senior songsmiths present…and those of us who are present aren’t necessarily revered. Kids are doing it for themselves. To be honest, it makes me feel…well, old. Almost everyone is young enough to be my child.
Time has a funny way of moving slowly and then all of a sudden you’re in another decade. Songs of the Top 40 variety have morphed into a whole other species with softer quirkier rhymes, shorter phrases, sound bites, obligatory post hooks, an abundance of melisma, vulgarity, swagger…Did I mention swagger? I often wonder if I’m in touch…in other words, if I’m writing relevant content.
This narrative must be in my head, however, because it appears I’m bringing ample ingredients to the table. I come with “starts” in hand…and I can speak of matters of the heart which don’t change all that much no matter how many years have past. I’m not adverse to taking an idea or a phrase and handing it off to one of the twenty-somethings and letting them express it in a more current vernacular. So all good.
A few years ago I lost my compass. I stopped trusting my sensibilities. Indeed you have to roll with the changes but if you start trusting someone else’s instincts more than you trust your own, you’re screwed. And you stop having fun. But I’ve found my way to the other side. I’m still in it…lucky to be back in the room with these young campers. But by the same token, make no mistake, I believe they are also quite lucky to be in the room with me.
I can’t totally put the generation gap out of my mind, though. Back home I’m a mother, a wife, a neighbor. I think about things like coloring my hair, getting my daughter through college, menopause. But in this environment, we are all on the same planet. After all, everyone here shares a common passion. While we’re living and breathing the craft, at least for these 10 days, antenna are raised and everything is copy. We’re in the zone. Immersed in a similar headspace. Over meals, snippets of conversation that have musical cadence make their way into the next day’s song. We can’t help it.
During this time, we are speaking the same language. And age is just a number.