Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A new song

I feel like I'm whispering in an empty room but I am twitterless, sans facebook, etc. However, in case a reader still lurks within these dusty passageways, I would like to share the result of an experience yesterday.
I don't write songs just to write songs anymore but occasionally there will be a reason for doing so in one of my classes, or at least the opportunity will be there to write along with students and it is a joy to reconnect with the muse.
One of my classes is currently reading the Alison Bechdel graphic memoir "Fun Home" (and lest you get the wrong idea: while that is quite an eye-raising selection for a high school curriculum, know that the previous text read was the deathless "Wuthering Heights." My bio does not lie: everything from Tchaikovsky to Fugazi, Cervantes to Cisneros, etc.) Anyway, one of the assignments is a vocab project where students are asked to choose from a list of 30 vocab words found in the text and to create a project that incorporates those ten words in a way that conveys understanding. The objective is to crawl inside the words so that they can fit into the scope of whatever your narrative or artwork communicates. The project has to be presented as well. So you don't just write a song lyric; you also would have to write music and perform it for the class. Other options include creating a comic strip that tells a story, making a short film, etc. For instance, one kid who has completed his project wrote a comedy sketch between a father and son where the dad is helping the son study. Meanwhile, one student, who is incredibly talented when it comes to singing and playing guitar, has had difficulty getting started, rejecting the notion that a song she would compose should ever contain words like "assiduous." Of course this only inspires me more to continue encouraging her to open her mind to the possibilities. So this found me taking her objection and writing a song that ironically expresses disdain for the assignment while also fully embraces it. Ten minutes to plow through the lyrics and another five to fashion some jazzy chords to complement the words. Sometimes the muse just jumps in the driver's seat and whisks one away. Here it is:

When I write songs, it has to come from the heart
I must truly feel every word I incorporate
I don’t just blithely drop big words in the lyrics
That is an idea I completely repudiate

Such a thing offends my sense of aesthetics
I am indignant that this be forced upon me
I demur at the idea that these big words
Be sprinkled throughout my song so pervasively

It’s implausible that this could ever help me learn
What a trite idea to teach vocab this way
No matter how meticulous or assiduous am I in this task
The meaning's ambiguous no matter what I say

No comments: