Where some songs begin with an interesting word, other songs begin with a picture.
This week’s song, Ballerina, started as a songwriting challenge. Last year, I attended a local chapter meeting of NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International), which some of you reading this (all maybe six or seven of you!) will already be familiar with. For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s an organization for songwriters looking to better their craft. You can have your songs evaluated, attend workshops, and all sorts of wonderful benefits all to help you be a better songwriter, whether for yourself or for other people.
That night’s songwriting challenge was to write a verse and chorus for any number of pictures given to us. Six different pictures were laid out on a table and we had fifteen minutes to pick a photo and write about it. The picture that stuck out to me was a black and white photo of a ballerina dancing on a rock in the middle of a calm body of water. I’m not sure what it was that struck me about it, but I ended up choosing to write about that picture. Maybe it’s because I took ballet lessons for a few years when I was a child, so I felt drawn to it.
Either way, I chose that picture. And I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find the picture I used as my inspiration, but I did after poking around on Google Images.
Here it is:
On the back of that month’s meeting syllabus, I began writing the required verse and chorus based on that picture. In fifteen minutes, I wrote in a stream-of-consciousness, and ended up with far more than was required. But that’s how I am (I was the kid in fourth grade who wrote a dozen pages for an assignment when all that was required was one or two pages). I still have the paper I wrote this on, though I’ll have to find it! And what came to mind was a song about standing strong when chaos is going on around you. And no matter what, you continue to be yourself, even when bad things are happening.
When it came time to share what we’d written, Michael King, one of the chapter heads, told me he was sure I was going to pick that ballerina photo. How he was right!
Click below to listen to me talking about this week’s song and to hear my performance. And don’t forget to subscribe!