When I was sixteen, I heard about a local songwriting seminar from my choir teacher. The event details were this: come together for a day and you could learn from industry professionals either how to be a better singer or take a songwriting class from noted songwriter Jason Blume and other pop and country writers. I had no idea who any of the industry people were but the event sounded fun. I’d started writing songs and I thought I could learn some things from people who knew more than me.
There were several takeaways from that day.
One: I was the only person in that room under the age of 30. But no one talked down to me or treated me like a kid, which was a welcome relief from the coddling I often got in school (no cough drops in class, you have to go to the clinic to get those. No pain relievers on you either; you have to go to the clinic for that. Don’t wear this. Don’t say that. Blah blah blah). I felt very grown-up that day, being around people who were all interested in the same thing as me and being on my own too. It was one of the first things I ever did on my own just for myself.
Two: I learned about something called a “hook book.” Anytime you hear an interesting word or phrase, write it down in a little notebook, and refer to that book when you are fresh out of songwriting ideas. They told us to always be aware of interesting phrases that come up in conversation. “That’s how the best songs come about,” I remember being told. The songwriters that day were pop and country writers, so they emphasized the importance of being conversational in your lyrics and in your title. “You want it to be natural,” was another thing they told us. While I don’t write pop or country music, I did take away that importance of having an interesting title.
I have kept several “hook books,” over the years, though they were never books. They were always documents on my computer. I found it faster to type my ideas rather than write them out by hand. For several years now, my “hook book” is a Notes document on my phone. It’s 2018, y’all, I’ve updated!
This week’s song was a phrase from my hook book.
Last year, I became good friends with a girl who’d just moved to the area and who, like me, spoke French. I got about a year of seeing her on a regular basis for Doctor Who marathons, Eurovision chat, and Busch Gardens trips before she moved away to find another job (she hated her government job here, for good reason). She now lives in Boston and is always super busy with her new job.
I was on Facebook one morning and decided to send her a message just to say hi because it had been a while. She’d been busy and so have I. To my delight, she wrote back a few minutes later saying hi and I got to chat with her briefly before we both had to go to work. She was somewhere in New Orleans for her job, so she didn’t have a lot of time to chat. She apologized for being so busy but her job has taken her all over the place.
“So many airplanes,” she typed.
I loved how that phrase sounded, so I immediately put it in my hook book. The phrase went around my head that week, and I began writing this song about my friend and her constant travels. I’ve known from the beginning that she was probably not going to stay in this area. She’s always been a world traveler (Malaysia, Turkey, and most recently, she posted pictures of a trip to Spain with her family!) and while she liked living in this area, she always talked about Boston and how much she loves that city. I was sad when she moved away, but I knew that it was coming.
Most of all, my friend is happy with a new and WAY better job.
And at least we have the Internet to be able to talk when life isn’t too busy on our ends! 🙂
Click below to watch my introduction and performance of this week’s song! And don’t forget to subscribe!
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