I find it challenging these days to post about a song I wrote, or a pic on Instagram with my arm around an artist I'm working with, while there's so much unrest in our country. I scroll Facebook and I’m embarrassed to see all the self-serving shares. Especially when it’s me who posted it. Case in point—my post from yesterday:
Then again, perhaps a little political relief is in order?
Then again, to avoid the subject is like ignoring the elephant in the room.
Then again, do I want to go there? I've been advised to steer clear but I've decided, if it behooves me and, if I find context with how politics relates to our journey as songwriters, I'm gonna go there.
So here goes...
I was having coffee with music industry veteran Gabi Kochlani. It wasn't our intention to talk about the chaos of late, but at some point, no matter what, no matter who (whom?), the convo gets there, doesn't it?
Regardless of how you feel about the election—whether you're triumphant (or should I say Trumphant?) or despondent…we can all agree: a reality show TV host was an unlikely win. So…perhaps it will renew the dwindling idea that—as Gabi puts it—Anything Can Happen. You can win the lottery. You can get pregnant after the doctor told you it was impossible. You can have your first hit song after 50. This reminder, in itself, is a good thing. And I like it! It’s hopeful. Moving on...
Unrest gives way to opportunity for compelling material about unrest, whether it's #Resistance you promise or victory you celebrate.
Gabi puts forth another uplifting thought: “Every time a Republican is in office music gets better.” Really? Excellent! I wonder why that is. There are more musicians on the left but…there are songwriters/recording artists on the right as well. Why don't we hear as much from them when the Dems are in power?
Regardless of the reason, let’s make some purple. What better way to reach one other than through the language of song? Those of us who are said to live in a bubble can hear first hand from the hearts and minds of those who are hurting (or from a voice that sings on their behalf). Alternately, those inside that bubble can artfully articulate the concerns of the blue. Music speaks louder than words especially when those words are talking points from partisan pundits and surrogates.
And speaking of pundits and surrogates, since there is a program that automatically checks the spelling of words on computer documents, why then can't there be a fact checking program for newscasts? And whenever someone misspeaks, a red light goes off, or a horn beeps, or the mis-speaker is ejected from his or her seat? This fake news stuff is getting scary. And a real time fact checker would put an end to it rather quickly.
Remember “Fortunate Son,” “Ohio,” “Easy To Be Hard, “Ball of Confusion”, Dylan!?? If we were too young (or daft) to understand what was going on in the world back then, those songs enlightened us. They asked questions. Suggested solutions. Aside from songs of protest, there was a song about a frog named Jeremiah, a dog name Boo, a horse with no name, a dancer named Bojangles. There’s so much more to write about than touching our bodies and well, romantic love...which, don't get me wrong, is the most divine emotion to explore. But where are the songs about peace on earth when it’s not Christmas? Where is the diversity on the post millennium mainstream airwaves? Are we afraid of losing half of our our fans? After all, fame and popularity rely heavily on Twitter followers. Yeesh.
In the 60s, if you were of age, the idea of your number coming up for the draft was heavy on your mind. So of course, you wrote all about the war, the dodgers, the landscape. The Times They Were A Changin'. Well, they're changin' again. Will it take another Vietnam? Perhaps a song can prevent one.
I’m putting my money where my blog is. Last week I co-wrote a culturally conscious song with a soulful artist who has the personality and the voice (no pun) to get a message out. I hope she does.
Here are some suggested titles for either side of the issues—if you use one I get 10%. Just kidding. Not really. Ok, really.
I Can't Breathe
In The Middle
In The Bubble
Can You Hear Me Now
Pass The Tequila
The Wall 2
Same Love (oops, done already)
It may feel like the Eve Of Destruction but it's an important time to be a songwriter. Let's step away from the mirror, boys and girls. Strap on your Fenders. Turn up the Amps. We can change the world. At least we can try. Let's get busy.