How to choose a subject or story

I like getting asked questions, that makes me find out more about how I react and why I react as I do. Yesterday, I was asked if I would be prepared to change the angle of a song lyric of mine and have the song the lyrics features in, redone and reproduced with that new angle. I have heard brilliant productions form the place the friend that asked me, is using, so obviously I would have been curious to find out how the result from a production like that would sound, but still I never even considered the change. This particular song lyric is so very special to me and I know that it can be interpreted in many different ways already, the way it is written, so changing it is not an option for me. The only change I could do, and feel both the song and lyric could gain from is to add a bridge, but we’ll see what happens.

 
Sometimes you must just follow your heart and even more importantly your gut. I can still remember how I felt when this particular lyric came about. It just appeared, late one evening and what I wrote about has become even more important to me during the last twelve months, so to change the whole meaning of my lyric would be absolutely impossible. Even the thought of it made me feel sick in my gut. I did change the chorus quite a bit when the lyrics became a song, and I can totally see why those changes were necessary. I can also see how those changes made the chorus much better, but that is not the same thing as changing what the story is about deep down.

 
I sometimes wonder if I would need to use my head more than I do when writing, so I would write lyrics more user friendly for the business. I have already reined myself in an awful lot since I started. Back then I was out to prove that it is possible to take any subject matter and make it into a popular song. I still feel it should be like that, but I have also learned that in reality that isn’t so. Still, if it is a lyric, where I know the words really touches people, I will stand my ground, because if the words in a song can move people to tears in the right way, it must be right whatever the story. This also means it will work as a song in some genre. Maybe not for the younger listeners, but I’m not sure I’m able to write lyrics for that generation anymore anyway. Some things maybe accidently written sometimes, but not consciously or planned. I can only draw from my own experiences through the years when writing and logically that means that my kind of writing and my way of thinking should appeal better with middle aged people.

 
Going back to this particular lyric I was asked if I would consider changing, I have to say I am so grateful for the experience the collaboration gave me the first time around. It forced me to accept that changing my lyrics can be a good thing and this started a totally new journey for me from where I now have changed a lot of my old lyrics and, in my opinion, made them better thanks to that change. None of the changes have been about changing the story though. I’ve just changed words. While writing this, I’m realising that I don’t think I ever would change the angle or storyline in my lyrics, because most of them come from my gut and personally I never override what my gut tells me to something my head wants to do. At least not when writing. I much prefer to write a new lyric with the story line in question if that ever would be the case.

 
I don’t know how you, out there, choose your stories when writing lyrics. Do you just write from your gut or do you let your head rule what comes out on the paper? Which ever way, I wish you all a good, creative week.

 

 

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

Advertisements

Finally, the best evaluation ever!

You know those times when you want to stop yourself, because you don’t want to become disappointed yet again, but still you can’t help thinking that you are on to something good?

 
Well, this was me with my latest lyrics. Deep down inside I knew that all I had learned so far this year came together in these lyrics. Everything I have been able to figure out by learning to listen and act on advice from people that know what they are talking about, plus forcing myself to write, write and then write some more. Also at times when there hasn’t been one ounce of inspiration anywhere near me, all of a sudden made the pieces fall into place and FINALLY I took a big step forward on my personal lyric writing journey.

 
To find out if what my instinct was telling me was right, I sent the lyrics for evaluation to a company called SongDoor. I’ve used them many times before and trust them to be harsh but fair. So far when I’ve used them, I’ve had one good evaluation back, a couple of okay ones, and quite a few where my work has been seriously trashed. To suddenly get an excellent evaluation back felt better than any words could describe. This is the summary I was given as part of their evaluation;
“We heard “Broadway” or “West End” all over these lyrics. We could all imagine some woman alone on a stage, in the spotlight, just singing her heart out, like in “Waitress” or something similar. Great imagery and a delightful cadence to the lyrics. Not a lot to criticize here, very well done. We’d love to hear the accompanying music. These are well-written words with serious commercial potential.”

 
Obviously, it all has to be put into perspective. In the end it’s only one single evaluation, but after working hard and trying my best for a very long time without feeling I’m getting anywhere, I’m going to enjoy this for a while. The same lyrics have now been sent to three different competitions, and in a couple of months it will be sent to a fourth one. I do hope this is the lyric that will unite the judges on both side of the Atlantic. Sooner or later, if I manage to write a good enough lyric, I should be able to get positive feedback from both America and the UK. I will have to wait and see if it could possibly be this one.

 
For those of you that missed the blog post where I shared the lyrics in question, I will give you a second chance. The lyrics are called “Got to let this woman be strong” and according to the evaluators at SongDoor; “the girl finally did good!”

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

Got to let this woman be strong

You’ve been moving
in my circles for a while.
Oh yes, I’ve noticed,
you’ve got a certain style.

You’ve been asking
all about me; yes, I’ve heard.
You want to know me?
This complicated bird?

Chorus
You can buy me a coffee.
You can cook me a meal.
You can sing me a song
that tells me how you feel.
But this girl’s been to hell and back.
The journey made me strong.
If you can’t cope with that,
then we won’t last long.
You’ve got to let this woman be strong!

Bridge
You got to be secure enough
to love the strength in me.
If you’re the controlling kind,
we’ll never share a key.

Chorus
You can buy me a coffee.
You can cook me a meal.
You can sing me a song
that tells me how you feel.
But this girl’s been to hell and back.
The journey made me strong.
If you can’t cope with that,
then we won’t last long.
You’ve got to let this woman be strong!

I’m no pick-nick,
there are calmer ways to live.
But if you’re certain,
this girl got lots to give.

Chorus
You can buy me a coffee
You can cook me a meal.
You can sing me a song
that tells me how you feel.
But this girl’s been to hell and back.
The journey made me strong.
If you can’t cope with that,
then we won’t last long.
You’ve got to let this woman be strong!
©2018 Åsa Sandberg

Growing and changing

This morning I have been looking through lyrics I’ve written this year, to pick out a few extra to send to various competitions. By doing so I realised something which made me feel a mixture of both happiness and sadness. I have moved on! When reading through some of the lyrics that I wrote in the beginning of this year, I didn’t recognise myself in that way of writing anymore.

What I personally feel has happened, is that I have grown and therefore what I write as a lyric writer has changed. I have taken a couple of significant steps forward and because of this I see no point entering earlier lyrics anymore. I don’t think the lyrics I looked through would make the cut for the semis in any competition and, even more important; they don’t represent me anymore. Realising this, I might as well count this moment as ground zero for my lyric writing. From now on I will draw a line under what has been and start afresh from the level I’m writing from today.

Whether or not I am right in what I’m sensing, will hopefully be confirmed or rejected very soon. One of the lyrics I’ve written since I took one of these steps forward is still waiting to come back from the judges at the UK Songwriting Contest (UKSC) Most “half term results” were presented last Wednesday, except for some “Lyrics Only” entries that also were taking part in the “Lyricist of the year” competition. These was said to take a “few” days longer because they were having to be seen by two different panels of judges.
Eight days on and I’m still waiting, but UKSC has put a message on the dashboard where the result will appear. The message reads; “If your result has not appeared above yet do not worry, some Lyrics Only entries are delayed slightly because of our arrangement with The Lyricist of The Year Awards. It will appear soon. If anything, this might be a good sign.”

The second lyric I’ve written, where the writing process itself, and my style of writing, made me feel I had reached a new level of development is sitting at an evaluator in the US at the moment. Hopefully the evaluator will notice the same thing that I feel, but even if they don’t, I can’t really do anything anymore anyway with my old lyrics. Personally I feel both me, and also time, has passed them by.

There is a slight difference in how I feel about my lyrics if I go back to the first couple of years of writing. In some of them I can still see a glimmer of hope. With some adjustments and a few word changes, I may still be able to revive some of them.

Just the other day I did make adjustments to one of my very early lyrics that for some reason always makes me smile, because I feel it describes today’s world fairly accurately in an ironic sort of way. It didn’t make the cut for the semis in its original state in 2015 but was awarded a commended entry. If I feel I want to spend money on a wild card this season, I might just give this one a second chance with its adjustments, because the subject matter is even more topical today than it was three years ago. The lyrics are called “Me, myself and I”, and I will share them with you today, maybe this can be a bridge between the old and the new as I hopefully continue to grow and change as a lyric writer.

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

Me, myself and I
I don’t know when people,
became obsolete.
We all were replaced by
a service elite.

The service in question,
ain’t bought from no shelf.
We all have it in us
it wears the name “Self”.

it’s all about “Self” now,
who could ask for more?
To think of another,
can be such a bore!

From now, all that matters,
is me, myself and I.
A self-contained unit,
from birth ‘til we die.

Chorus
So, me, myself and I
will have to wave goodbye.
We can’t waste time on you,
since we’re a single crew.
Don’t tell us how you feel,
it isn’t a big deal!
What doesn’t involve us,
can’t make us give a toss.

Bridge
Self-service, self-centred,
and selfies galore.
Woohoo
Self-service, self-centred,
and selfies galore.

Don’t think that I’m selfish,
I share all day long.
My thoughts and my pictures,
point out what is wrong.

The world can be stressful,
for me and my lot.
But we got us covered,
when all goes to pot.

Chorus
So, me, myself and I
will have to wave goodbye.
We can’t waste time on you,
since we’re a single crew.
Don’t tell us how you feel,
It isn’t a big deal!
What doesn’t involve us,
can’t make us give a toss.
©2015/2018 Åsa Sandberg

Waiting for answers

Today is a day when I’m waiting for some news. While I’m waiting I can still hope the news will be good, but at the same time I don’t want to raise my hopes too high. There’re two places I potentially could get some answers from very soon. One is from the half way results at UKSC. I’m still waiting to hear the fate of one of my lyrics there and is should be with me at any time now. The judging panel at UKSC is waiting for some information from the Lyricist of the year Award before making the announcement. Hopefully it won’t be long.

 
I have also sent in a brand-new song lyric for evaluation to the people at SongDoor in America. I sent it in as a spur of a moment thing yesterday and was told the evaluation should be with me before the end of the week. The reason I sent it in for an evaluation is, that personally, I felt these new lyrics showed that I have grown some within my craft from my last “real” lyric, to this one. Somehow, I don’t count lyrics I write as an exercise as “real” lyrics, so it’s been a while since I’ve written from scratch with the purpose of presenting my finished work to professionals, whether they are judges or evaluators.

 
In some ways, while writing these new lyrics, I felt it was the first time I was able to write in a way that actually felt like a song lyric. It was more varied in both tempo and language than my previous lyrics have been, and I couldn’t help feeling that my favourite exercise (which is to write new lyrics to old songs) are starting to pay off. Getting more use to writing to the flow of a melody instead of to a certain tempo in my head seem to have got me out of the narrow cage in which I was writing and where the options were very few.

 
I’ve decided to share these new lyrics with you, so you can decide for yourself whether there has been some progress. Hopefully I can give you some news very soon about what the professionals think too.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

Got to let this woman be strong

You’ve been moving
in my circles for a while.
Oh yes, I’ve noticed,
you’ve got a certain style.

You’ve been asking
all about me; yes, I’ve heard.
You want to know me?
This complicated bird?

Chorus
You can buy me a coffee.
You can cook me a meal.
You can sing me a song
that tells me how you feel.
But this girl’s been to hell and back.
The journey made her strong.
If you can’t cope with that,
then we won’t last long.
You’ve got to let this woman be strong!

Bridge
You got to be secure enough
to love the strength in me.
If you’re the controlling kind,
we’ll never share a key.

Chorus
You can buy me a coffee.
You can cook me a meal.
You can sing me a song
that tells me how you feel.
But this girl’s been to hell and back.
The journey made her strong.
If you can’t cope with that,
then we won’t last long.
You’ve got to let this woman be strong!

I’m no pick-nick,
there are calmer ways to live.
But if you’re certain,
this girl got lots to give.

Chorus
You can buy me a coffee
You can cook me a meal.
You can sing me a song
that tells me how you feel.
But this girl’s been to hell and back.
The journey made her strong.
If you can’t cope with that,
then we won’t last long.
You’ve got to let this woman be strong!
©2018 Åsa Sandberg

I’m in the semis!

The “mid-term” results from UK songwriting Contest (UKSC) are now starting to drip through. I have had the judge’s decision on three out of my five entries into the first session. My lyric called “Destiny Calling” which was given the best evaluation I’ve ever had from SongDoor, did not get through to the semis. That didn’t surprise me, because so far, the judges at UKSC and the evaluation team at SongDoor have always been sitting on opposite sides of the fence. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. Instead it is almost comforting that this difference of opinion continues.

 
My collaboration together with Fredrik Holm; – the song “Alone” in the jazz and blues category, didn’t go any further either. Well it will, just like “Destiny calling”, be considered for the lower prices, which are “Special mention award”, “Higher commended award”, or “Commended award”, but however nice that is, anything below a semi-final place really means that the entry has come to the end of the line in this year’s competition.

 
The third entry of mine that already has been seen by the judges is the lyrics to “Alone” that I entered into the “Lyric only” category and I am very pleased to announce that it has been given a place in the semi-finals and still lives on in the competition. The strange thing is that it wasn’t the version of the lyrics I was going to enter. I made a rooky mistake with both the song version and the lyric version of “Alone” and entered an earlier one where I still hadn’t made my final correction. Since I’m in the semis with this version I suppose I could leave it, but I also know that my final version is flowing much better, so I will enter both the song and the lyrics again for the autumn session. If I don’t I will always wonder “what if”.

 
I’m still waiting for the results of a “Lyrics only” entry I’ve called “Sad to waste it” and a song collaboration, again with Fredrik Holm as the composer, entered in the “Open category” called “Mad World”. I did enter an earlier version of “Mad World” in the “Lyrics only” category in 2015 and it was given a semi-final place. Since then I have refurbished the chorus and changed the verses a bit and added a bridge. I will enter the new version of the lyrics into the competition before the deadline on 30 September, but I thought I’d wait and see what happens to the song first. The song is a bit different, so I’m pleased that UKSC have an open category these days. It gives songs that fall between the standard categories a chance.

 
I will share “Mad World” with you, both the lyrics and the demo of the song, while I’m waiting for the results. Hopefully it will inspire some of you, who are still sitting on the fence about entering your lyrics or music into the competition, to actually enter. Writing lyrics can be a lonely thing to try and make a living out of, so finding places to talk to other, likeminded people can help to keep the motivation going. Competitions are one of those places where you can do just that, and you may also be lucky enough to find collaborators, if you, like me, don’t write music or if you are a musician that prefer not to write your own lyrics.

 

 

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!

 

Åsa

 

Mad world
I’m scared of being sued
and sick of getting screwed.
The world is going mad
and everybody’s blinking rude!

Chorus
Mad world, Bad world,
most of all a Sad world!
Where can I get off?
Rough world, Tough world
Through and through a Bluff world.
When can I get off?

I wonder why I’m here
when all I sense is fear.
I hate to feel alone
but know the cost of getting near.

Repeat Chorus

Bridge
I know that I’m moaning.
So, what! Don’t we all.
It’s my way of coping,
fight back when I fall.
Repeat Chorus

I’m tired and I’m worn,
regret that I was born.
I need a new way out,
‘cause deep inside I feel so torn.

REPEAT CHORUS x2
©2014/2018 Åsa Sandberg

 

Looking for a sign

Last week I wrote about being at peace with my lyric writing journey. This hasn’t changed, even though I’m prone to sudden mood swings, but apart from my lyric writing I am at a loss when it comes to figuring out what to do with most things in my life.

 
I have told you that, since a couple of months back, I am working two jobs to keep afloat. This new situation has put me in a catch 22 situation, because without keeping both jobs for a very long and foreseeable future, I will sink financially. On the other hand, by keeping the jobs for a very long and foreseeable future I will deny everything inside me that is me, which sooner or later will kill me no matter what my financial status is. To begin with it will kill me on every other level than physically, i.e. it will zap my energy, kill me emotionally, it will numb my mind, my spirit and my soul will starve. When it has gone that far, my divine spark will dim down too. There won’t be much point walking around like the zombie I will be, at that point.

 
Why do I feel my future is looking this dark? Well, after only seven weeks in this new situation, I am forced to leave more and more of my creative work behind, just to have the energy to go to work and do things that need doing at home. Some of you may have noticed that this blog already has started to suffer a bit. Last week I only managed one blog post, because I have been too tired to find any kind of inspiration to write.

 
For most people, two jobs wouldn’t be a problem and for most people continuing with creative things after work wouldn’t be a problem either. Sadly, I’m not most people. I belong to the 20% in the world that lives with the title Highly Sensitive Person HSP https://hsperson.com/ and therefore the situation I’m in is slowly destroying my life.

 
I feel totally cornered and all I can do is look for a sign of some sort to help me out of this predicament. I would never walk out of any of the jobs, because the world doesn’t look kindly upon people quitting jobs needed to keep them paying the bills. In all fairness, I wouldn’t look kindly upon myself if I did. Sadly, there may come a time when the choice isn’t mine anymore if this is how I feel after seven weeks. In what shape will I be in after twelve months? How much of the real me will still be around?

 
A few years ago, I wrote a lyric about how it can hurt when people only see what they want to see when they look at you. Anything inside you that frightens them or is too different from themselves, people tend to ignore. This is fine if we are talking about strangers. Less so if we talk friends or family. At the moment the lyrics also fit in with my biggest wish; that someone out there would recognise my strengths which can be in any of my creative ventures, i.e. graphic designing, baking, writing etc. so that I could be able to make a living from something that vitalises me, instead of what is happening now and is slowly killing me.

 
The lyrics is called “Love the real me”.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

Love the real me!
I’ve been a big disappointment,
in every which way to you.
That is what happens when trying
to change what is red into blue.

You want me to fit your settings;
So what, if I lose my wings?
As long as I live your picture;
Who cares if my soul fails to sing?

Chorus
You say that you know me
but don’t have a clue.
You never took time out
to find what was true.
I’d so much to offer,
but outside your mould.
You saw what you chose to,
and missed all I hold!
Why couldn’t you love the real me?

It would have been good to tell you
of all the dreams that I’ve had.
But somehow, they were to different,
your fear made me mute and so sad.

Chorus
You say that you know me
but don’t have a clue.
You never took time out
to find what was true.
I’d so much to offer,
but outside your mould.
You saw what you chose to,
and missed all I hold!
Why couldn’t you love the real me?
©Åsa Sandberg 2014

At peace with the journey

Two days ago, I entered into the UK Sonwriting contest one additional lyric and one song where I have collaborated with a composer, making the tally to the first part of the competition three new lyrics and two song collaborations.

 
I mentioned this on UKSCs Facebook page and another competitor that I “talked” to quite a lot last year via the same FB page, asked me how I had been doing since last years results and if my musical dreams had come true? When answering, I got very surprised over what I said, but it is in a happy way. This is what I said: “I feel I am on the right track when it comes to my lyric writing and I’m at peace with the journey!

 
I’m at peace with the journey! How incredible is that! I think I will allow myself a pat on the back for being able to say that and mean it!

 
I suppose you could ask me if I suddenly have lost all my aspirations? If what I want for myself in this creative job has faded? No, is the answer to both those questions. I still burn for the day when I once again get a result I personally can look at as a successful one,. I still want to be able to earn money from writing lyrics, but what I have learned is that those dreams won’t be handed to me on a silver plate from the outside. At least not until I have done the legwork and completed my inside journey and, in all honesty, can say that I have done everything in my power to become as good a writer as I can be.
The reason I’m at peace with my journey is that I am working on becoming better as often and as much as possible. I know I have a few miles to go yet, but I have also travelled a few miles already and done a lot of learning lately. If my efforts so far are rewarded with good marks in the competitions this year, I will be very happy, but the best thing is that I have no expectations what so ever.

 
I think I got a bit spoilt in 2015 when I scooped home 8 semi-final places from UKSC. I thought lyric writing was easy, and the next two years I expected the results to mirror my debut year, especially since I did exactly the same thing. Well, so much is wrong with my last two statements. Firstly; -lyric writing is not easy. Not if I want to aim for good lyrics. Secondly; – I did exactly the same thing! How arrogant and ignorant was that? I never bothered to learn anything new. I thought that I, out of the blue had got the perfect formula for lyric writing and kept hammering down lyric after lyric out of the same old mould. Thank goodness I’ve had some sense knocked into me since then.

 
Another thing has also happened since the UKSC competition 2015. The judges have raised the bar. If I were to enter the lyrics I entered in 2015 again this year, I can’t see many of them making the semis. This doesn’t take anything away from either my lyrics or the 2015 competition. I played in a playing field where all were judged by the same standards, on which ever level the standard was that year, and among those entries mine were thought of as good enough to get awarded 8 semi final places. My mistake the following years was that the competition moved on to new heights and I didn’t.

 
Still, I hadn’t realised that I was feeling as good as I was about where I’m at with my writing, until I was asked the question. I’m sure, a year from now, my goal will be on a higher level, if I can continue to see and feel development, but for now it is all good!
I am obviously very curious about how my entries to this first part of the UKSC will be received, and I can’t wait to find out within the next week or so, but it is a wonderful feeling not to have any expectations what so ever. It gives me a great feeling of harmony from where I can continue my journey.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

Is anybody out there?

Lyric writing can be a very lonely job. Especially when you are still flying under the radar, like I am. This year I have been given many signs that things are moving forward and that I’m starting to get the hang of the fundamentals of my craft. Still, between those encouraging comments and signs, there is plenty of time for doubts to creep in.

 
Being a pure lyric writer, with no real aspirations to write my own music I am always on the look out for collaborators. This is where doubts in my own ability become my worst enemy. I find it quite hard to contact someone with the intention of showing them some lyrics of mine, because I always feel everyone else is better than I am. Sometimes I feel it would be rude of me to assume that composers would want to spend time putting music to my words. All that aside, if I want to get to the next level with my writing, I have to overcome my doubts and fears and just get on with it. I’ve realised that the times when someone totally out of the blue will offer to write music to my words are few and far between, so I will have to become proactive.

 
So, how high do I, as a virtual nobody, aim when deciding who I will target with my lyrics? Do I reach for the stars, hoping to catch someone’s attention at tree top level, or do I look for a potential composer closer to the factory floor where I’m sitting myself? Well, chancing it and sending something to a place which feels totally out of reach is actually somehow easier, because I don’t really expect an answer or, even expect that my email or letter will be read in those places, so any reaction is a plus. What I never do is to send lyrics to someone who write their own. Except if they say that they do look for collaborators when it comes to the lyrics.

 
It is somehow more difficult to approach people in the same boat as myself. Still, the ideal would be to find someone that likes the same kind of music that I do and who is working towards the same end goal, which is to get better, and at some point, get signed. For some reason it has proven difficult to get a reply from someone that potentially could be a person like that.

 
A few weeks ago, I heard a collaboration from an unsigned composer that I thought sounded very promising. Looking at this person’s home page I could see that we like a few similar genres of music. The best thing of all was that this person, according to the home page, was actively looking for collaborators. I decided to give it a go and wrote an email. I even sent a lyric of mine that felt like the kind of thing this person could go for, as an attachment.

 
Since then I haven’t heard one single word. No thank you for writing, no thanks, but no thanks. Absolutely no reaction what so ever. This actually upsets me. The fact that an unsigned musician has a home page with an aim to create interest for collaborations, and then totally ignores someone that is replying to the plea on that home page, is unsettling. Whether or not the interest to collaborate with me or my lyrics was there, I feel I deserved an answer. Especially since sending someone something as personal as a lyric is a scary thing to do.

 
The total silence has at least made it clear to me that this person is not anyone I would like to collaborate with. If you’ve got a home page that clearly states that you are looking for collaborators, the least you can do is reply to those who are showing an interest. If that basic skill in how to treat people isn’t there, I have a feeling the future is looking brighter for me than for this other unsigned individual.

 
Therefore, I just want to let you know that if there is a composer out there looking for lyrics, don’t be shy. Please ask. I promise to listen to your music and if I feel I can put words to your melody I will tell you. Which ever way, I will definitely reply, and I will always be grateful that you took time to ask!

 
Apparently, it has always been difficult to find collaborators. In 1967 one of Sweden’s best lyric writers and country singers and a very close friend of mine, Alf Robertson, put an advert into a Swedish newspaper. The ad said; “Lyric writer looking for collaboration with a composer.” Alf, who sadly isn’t with us anymore, didn’t get one single reply to his ad, and someone later told him that it wasn’t done that way.

 
Alf wrote the most phenomenal song lyrics in Swedish. He also translated a lot of familiar country songs to Swedish and recorded them. The song he had most success with was a translation of Tom T Hall’s “Old dogs, children and Watermelon Wine.” Alf’s version was called “Hundar och ungar och hembryggt äppelvin.” He got a gold record for that one in 1980. I will leave you with a YouTube clip of a young Alf singing that song on his first ever television appearance in Sweden. This is proof that even if no one answers your pleas for help, it can all work out in the end if we are tenacious enough and never give up.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing
Åsa

Kill your darlings

Many moons ago, when I worked at the Finnish Television, we had an expression we frequently used, which was; “kill your darlings”. It was used when someone wanted to keep a part of a programme or insert where they felt they’d been really creative or where they had got something exactly as they wanted it, but for the sake of the whole, and to make the programme better this special bit had to be sacrificed and left on the editing floor.

 
Yesterday, I adapted this system to my song lyrics. So far, I have kept all my lyrics in one single file on my computer called, believe it or not, lyrics. Every word I’ve felt worth holding on to since the dawn of my lyric writing journey have been kept in that file. However, a lot of things have happened since then, and yesterday I felt it was time to re-evaluate this file of mine.

 
So, I decided to keep the lyrics I felt were as good as I could ever get them, in the original file, but I created two new sub files. One called “Needs working on” and a second one called “Scrap file”. Anything landing in the scrap file is living very dangerously. The scrap file is the final destination before the delete button, but I’m giving myself a cooling off period, just in case at some point I would find a way to turn something I feel is beyond rescuing today, into tomorrow’s masterpiece.

 
How did I do then yesterday when I tried to evaluate my own work? Well, 28 of my lyrics stayed where they were. Some of them stayed there, because I have already made the changes to them that I planned to do before trying them out in competitions and evaluations again. Some stayed there because they are brand new and haven’t yet been seen by anyone, so they are also sitting there waiting to be judged. A few stayed, because they have already been made into demos in the form they are. They may not become chart toppers but changing them would mean that not just me, but also others, would have to get involved in the revamp, and I may not feel these lyrics are worth that kind of time and effort at this precise moment. I prefer to let them live as they are and hope that someone, someday will see potential in them, that would then make it worth starting a makeover. Then of course there were a few lyrics in the file which I feel really happy with just as they are.

 
In my file “Needs working on” I have now got 24 lyrics. Most of those suffer from the same disease. It is where I’m using a language that are fine in books, but not in songs. They have a lot of peculiar words in them, because I just love words, but sadly they don’t look good in song lyrics, however much I enjoyed finding them. I really will have to kill a lot of my darlings and say goodbye to some favourite turns of phrases. Some of the ones in this file, should possibly have gone into the “scrap file”, but I felt the subject I had chosen to write about could work with some adjustments. I thought I should give these a go before sending my work to a certain death. A few of the lyrics in this second file need a clearer story or a bridge to make sense to someone outside my inner circle of friends so I will try to make them clearer. All the lyrics in the “needs working on” file stand just as big a chance to be scrapped as they do to be revived. It all depends on how the remodelling goes and, in some cases, if the lyric already has a melody; how the altering of the music feels.

 
Six lyrics were sent to my “scrap file”. Most of them due to the choice of subject. When I started out I may have thought that it was a good idea to never limit myself when it came to subject matter. I still don’t, but now I know that there are topics that won’t stand a chance, and some for good reasons. I will keep the lyrics in the “Scrap file”, only because they could be useful if I ever get to a point where I take another look at the musical manuscript I wrote a couple of years ago. Some of the lyrics could fit in there.

 
Yesterday’s exercise was more useful that I ever imagined when I decided to have this “spring clean” among my lyrics. It helped me realise that my emotional attachment to them has completely evaporated. This has given me an amazing feeling of freedom. I think it has also removed the risk of me feeling hurt ever again, when getting results from competitions and evaluations. Somehow, I have understood that this is what it is, or to use a quote from “The Godfather” one of my favourite films ever;

 
“It’s not personal, it’s just business.”

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

How to fight negativity

Believe it or not, but I was born with a very positive outlook on life. For a long time, I thought that telling people when something good had happened would make them just as happy. Oh, bless my little cotton socks, how naïve was I? Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, I’m a persistent individual. It took a long time before I started to keep my good news to myself after having had my happy face slapped one time too many.

 
There are very few people that can take good news that doesn’t include themselves and be genuinely happy about someone else’s success. Sad but true. The little green-eyed monster called jealousy lives nearby for most of us.

 
I’ve noticed that sometimes all it takes to annoy someone is to look happy. I don’t even have to open my mouth. If I have a day where I can’t stop my inner happiness shining through my eyes; this can be enough to really frustrate someone. So, how can we fight negativity? Personally, I try to ignore it as much as possible and tell myself it isn’t my problem. A person that can’t stand happiness or be happy for someone else must live a very unhappy life, so the best thing is to leave them to stew in their bitterness and continue on with my own journey.

 
Sometimes this is easier said than done though. For instance, only yesterday I got a very acidic comment about something I’ve written. It was about my lyric writing. I had written about how learning my craft has help me improve my writing this year and the comment from this person said, among other things, that they had never tried to write what others might want to hear. In the end they said that they never have had any kind of success either, but they preferred that than writing to please others. Anyway, the whole thing was said in a way that made it clear that this person felt I had sacrificed my integrity to become successful.

 
For a moment that comment hurt a bit. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I don’t sacrifice my integrity for anything in the world. Yes, I would love to write really successful lyrics, and yes, because of that I have taken various steps to get better. The one thing I wouldn’t do is to write a lyric that doesn’t have anything of my personality in it or that I’m not happy enough to put my signature under as an original lyric from me. In all fairness, if what I’ve been doing this year is to leave my integrity behind to write what I believe to be possible cash cows in rhyme, I’m really not doing a very good job, am I?

 
Any craft out there has got rules. The first thing we’ve got to do in order to get good at something is to learn these rules. It doesn’t’ matter how much talent we have. Without rules we will sooner or later hit a brick wall, where pure talent doesn’t give us the answers needed to get any further. Learning the basics and the theory behind the craft of our choice will help us climb those inevitable walls. They give us a solid foundation to fall back on, and after we become really comfortable among those rules, we can happily start to improvise.

 
If anything, I wish I had taken this truth to heart sooner, instead of spending years shuffling furniture around on a sinking ship, but better late then never. It’s just sad that someone has to take my efforts at getting better as selling out. I have put that hurt behind me now and moved on. Maybe the person writing that comment doesn’t believe in their abilities or are unwilling to put in the effort to improve. Whichever it is, it really isn’t my problem. I will continue my journey, because I know where I’m heading.

 
Sometimes the negativity from an unexpected source is so enormous and takes so much energy that we finally have to cut the ties, so not to drown in the acidic lava constantly floating our way. This happened to me with a close family member that I now haven’t seen or spoken to in five years. If I would have known how peaceful my life would become after that cut, I would have done it much earlier, but when it’s family you tend to hang on much longer than you would for anyone else.

 
Anyhow. I wrote a lyric about my relationship with this person called “I’m a Survivor”. Fredrik Holm composed a big band style melody for it and Tine Sylvest lent her voice to a demo for us. Have a listen if you feel like it.

 
Take care until next time and happy writing!
Åsa

 

I’m a survivor! 
Born the runt of the litter.
Never to be picked.
Heard it far too often,
for the wounds to get licked.
Aimed too high for my talent.
Just moderate at best.
Never had much substance.
To compete with the rest.

Chorus
Suppress me, depress me, as much as you want.
Pardon me, I will continue to reach for the front!
I’m a survivor!
I’m a survivor!
Yeah!
I’m a survivor!
Oh Yeah!
I’m a survivor!
It’s the last key on the chain that mostly opens the door.
I will keep my dreams alive and turn up for so much more!
I’m a survivor!
Yeah!
I’m a survivor!
Oh yeah!
I’m a Survivor!

Chose my own way of living,
just outside the norm.
It woke the green eyed monster,
in those stuck in a form.
Aiming high as a challenge,
all good fun to me.
The stars, a valid option.
Or the top of a tree!

Chorus

©2013 Åsa Sandberg