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

 

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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

 

Change is the only constant

Throughout my writing career I’ve been very careful to confirm something by putting it in writing, if I don’t feel it is the absolute truth. I feel the written word is such a powerful energy that I only want to write what I know to be the truth. Nowadays, when writing lyrics, this has become a truth with some shades of grey, because since I have started to write for other people and follow their visions, my collaborator’s wishes becomes my first priority.

 
The other day, after having written my blog “Focus and Happiness”, one of my early lyrics popped up in my head. The lyric is called “Broken”. It is quite gruesome, even though it lifts to a more positive vibe in the last two verses. At the time when I wrote “Broken” I quite often used my own real experiences in my lyrics. I think there were many reasons for this. One was the fact that I was so used to putting only the truth down on paper, so that came with me into my lyrics. Another reason was the old familiar saying; “write what you know”; especially when starting out. A third reason was that I knew I couldn’t be the only one having lived through what I had, or who was walking around with these kinds of feelings. From all this, I thought that someone out there might feel comforted by hearing another person having had experiences reflecting their own.

 
When thinking of “Broken”, five years after writing the lyrics, I realised I couldn’t write those lyrics today. My life has moved on so much since then and the last thing I feel these days is broken. Becoming aware of this, I also realised my fear of change which had been one of my weaknesses in life, has subsided substantially. What someone scared of change does not realise is that change doesn’t have to be negative. The chance for a positive change is just as plausible since everything around us is neutral until we put our own interpretation onto the situation. I suppose I could go back to those broken feelings that feel so distant now, if someone I collaborate with would need something to paint hopelessness, but I am rather pleased that the music world rarely has the demand for sad thoughts on that level. The only reason I wish they would, is that I am sitting on the lyric “Broken” and, for once, I feel it actually deserves more than being hidden away in my personal dropbox.

 
One of my collaborators, Fredrik Holm, wrote a melody to “Broken”, which gives the song another curios angle. Fredrik’s main instrument is Bassoon, and he had never, ever heard a bassoon in any kind of popular music. He felt he wanted to rectify this in the melody of “Broken”, so he actually included a bassoon solo just before the bridge of the song.

 
This was at a time when we were first starting out writing songs, going with our instinct and feeling rules were there to be broken. A few years down the line we have learned that the right to break rules are earned by those who first learn and become good at following those same rules. If you don’t know the basics in both song writing and lyric writing and build your improvisations and “rule breaking” on those basics, very few people can understand what you are trying to say. The outcome is that the messages are too mixed up for the general public.

 
Fredrik and I made a CD, meant as a demo really, out of a dozen of our early songs. One newspaper critic was very positive and kind. It was one of those rare moments when you notice that someone really took their time to understand what we were trying to say and do. He said that all the twelve songs were like separate mini-musicals telling different life stories.

 
Our song “Broken” definitely has the drama of a musical number in it and yes, it also includes a bassoon solo.

 
If you feel like something different, have a listen. I have to admit I’ve got a soft spot for this one but I’m so grateful it doesn’t paint a correct picture of my life anymore.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

Broken 

I’ve been fighting for survival
for many, many years.
Bullies, drink and violence
have broken all my gears.

Chorus
I’m broken!
Whichever way I turn,
I’m broken
I’m asked for more than I can give.
I’m broken!
No fuel inside to burn,
I’m broken
stop the demands and let me live!
Reversing is no option;
there’s nothing there to see.
But starting on the road ahead
takes more than what’s in me.

Chorus

Bridge
Burnout is the modern way of saying; I am lost.
We’re falling by the side lines because of every must.
The hunt for something better and bigger drives us on.
Each day we join the rat race, but all the joy has gone.
I would like to stop and listen
and smell a fresh cut lawn.
Sit out by the ocean
until the break of dawn.
I know life could be better
if I had time to look,
and find myself somewhere again;
claim back what life once took.

Chorus

©2013 Åsa Sandberg

 

Finally a reason to celebrate!

I have been walking on cloud nine since Saturday. It isn’t such a big thing in the greater scheme of things, but for me it feels like a major shift in a very positive direction. I sent the lyrics I’ve been telling you the progress of during the last couple of weeks, for evaluation and got the results on Saturday. I was quite nervous opening the file because this specific place is really tough in their constructive criticism. In fairness I like that approach. It suits my mentality, even though I can feel distraught for a while if what I get back is really bad, especially when I have felt my work was ok. Also, I always remember that this is only one opinion, and that others look at my work in a different way. Still, it is a place I’ve come to respect for their honesty and the way they explain why they think something is bad or, in this case good.

For those of you that didn’t see the lyrics I’m talking about, here they are again;

Destiny Calling
Verse 1
It was the 16th of June -91
The day when destiny knocked on my door.
The Crystal ball in my gut warned for clouds,
my need to meet you meant so, so much more.

Verse 2
I wore a mint coloured top and worn jeans.
I grabbed my camera, note pad and pen.
The breeze felt warm, in my highlighted hair.
I was so happy that day, way back then.

Chorus
You were tall, dark and handsome.
It was love at first sight.
You were twice as old as me.
Could be wrong but felt so right!
I felt destiny calling,
when I met you that night.
Yes, it was destiny calling that night!…

Verse 3
I drove home knowing everything had changed.
Still alone in the car, but not in my heart.
A signed record by my side, promised more,
a new life, bigger views, a fresh start.

Repeat Chorus

Bridge

When destiny’s calling
Don’t say no, go with the flow.
It’s your soul’s way of saying;
Here’s a truth you need to know.
When destiny’s calling, don’t say no!

Repeat Chorus

©2018 Åsa Sandberg

This is how they are scoring each lyric: Each item is assessed on a scale from 1-10, with 1 being a strong “no,” 5 being average and 10 being “absolutely yes!” (Note that a score of 10 is reserved for true excellence and is rarely given.)

To my utter amazement I was given five nines for my work. These were the items judged in my lyrics that reached that height;

– The theme/idea is fresh and unique, even if it’s a take on an old theme (“love lost”).
– There is a story arc: a beginning, a middle and a resolution/end
– There is good imagery that the listener can envision.
– The various song parts are cohesive and consistent with the theme.
– Overall, these are well-written lyrics with viable commercial potential.

Some of the general comments also made my day. “The imagery is palpable, so hard to get that across.” And “There’s a good story here, with an opening, an arc and a resolution. The mysterious setup (why did you grab a camera, notepad and pen?) that evolves into a “fan-love” ending is a great lyrical progression. Really delightful.

 

The reason I’m getting into such detail with the evaluation is because my blog is about development as a lyric writer and I’ve promised to share both the good and the bad. This week I have something really good to share and for you out there who maybe have not yet used any evaluation services I hope this can give you an idea of what they are looking for in a lyric.

One thing I have lately been working hard at lately, is to find my own way of saying things in my lyrics, so I was very happy with the eight points I got for this part of the evaluation; “The word/phrase choices are original, interesting and avoid clichés.”

 

Talking about that, the one thing the evaluator commented on in a less positive way, was my choice of title, “Destiny Calling”, since it is a phrase that is and has been used a lot. That’s ok by me. I will stick to my guns here, since I’m told my theme and idea is fresh and unique, despite my choice of title.

With this evaluation behind me, it will be interesting to see how the juries of the various competitions will look at my lyrics. Exciting times!

I’m going to end with a piece of good advice to any lyric writer out there who is serious about their work and want to move forward; have your lyrics professionally evaluated! The comments you get really make you see your work from a different angle and even though you should always keep your own personality and style, having strangers reading your words will help you to pinpoint what you need to work on to get yourself to that next level.

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!

Åsa

Doubts

After a few years of writing it is inevitable that the doubts will creep in. You do your absolute best and you try to get your product noticed in every way you can think of, but nothing pays off. Sometimes it is very hard not to take the rejections personally, because song-lyrics are personal.
Last Christmas, when I got the results from the UK Songwriting Contest, I took it very personally. This time, the wound wasn’t from the rejection of my entries. because no, they weren’t rejected. I had one semi-finalist and the other four just under, but I felt that what I saw as a development in my writing had neither been noticed or appreciated. Instead the results made me feel like I had gone backwards. Not a nice feeling after having really worked hard on my craft. My wounded pride bled so badly that I totally lost faith in my writing skills and stopped appreciating my finished song lyrics stored in various files.
I’m not saying this was all together a bad thing. I admit having been way to possessive about my lyrics but being me, an all or nothing person, I became very close to kicking all my old work into touch and start again or, the other option, quit totally. It was all hanging in the balance for a while.
Looking back at this time with a few months perspective and with the wounds healing, I see it as a good learning curve and something that taught me to take constructive criticism in a way that wasn’t personal. As I showed you last week, I have now even changed one of my lyrics after an evaluation I felt was fair, and I had decided to start to go through all my old lyrics with the intention of making radical changes to most of them.
Then, a couple of days ago, I received a little miracle in the form of an SMS. A person I’ve known for a year now and who’s professional opinion I both respect and trust, wrote to me to tell me to consider carefully the feedback I’m getting from people and make sure I believe in my heart that it is right before starting to make big changes in my lyrics. The SMS also said that my lyrics are impressive and that I have a unique style which is something that is sadly missing in the music industry today.
It is impossible to describe how much that SMS meant as well as the amazing timing of it. It felt like some kind of divine intervention. Yes, I have heard people close to me say similar things before, but even if I obviously respect and trust people very close to me, it is hard to really take in praise from that bunch of people. First of all, they all know me so well that they always know what I mean when writing, because they know my back story. They also have got used to my personal way of expressing myself, so it may sound ok even if it isn’t always grammatically correct. Secondly, they are somehow supposed to think that what I write is good and even if they don’t’ always think that way, they may still say so out of kindness.
To get feedback like I got in that SMS from an unexpected source, with such good timing was amazing. It gave me back my drive and belief in my writing. It made me feel that there actually is room for my kind of writing too, and one day someone is going to want to sing my words, exactly as they are or with a few tweaks.
Talking about my long-suffering friends that never tire of reading my work and always are there for support, I have to say it would be a very lonely journey without their support and feedback. I never take it for granted and I am always grateful that they take time to read my creations.

A very special friend of mine for over thirty years happened to have a big birthday the first year I was writing song-lyrics. I wanted to do something different for that birthday and asked my writing partner at the time, Fredrik Holm, if he would write the music if I wrote some lyrics to my friend for this birthday. Fredrik was happy to do so, and the result became a song called “Safe” (Ulla’s song). It is one of the first lyrics I ever wrote, and I will share it with you today. Tine Sylvest is singing.

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

Safe (Ulla’s song) (Semi-finalist in UKSC 2015)
I had a violent start
which broke my heart.
It made me scared and shy
and wondering why?
I believed it was me
and wanted to flee.
Kept my dreams deep inside,
and continued to hide.

Chorus
You made me believe it was fine to be me.
I’ve always wondered what it was you could see?
No judgement, just patience, a place I could grow,
rest and recover from life’s every blow.
I was safe!

Bridge
I was hurting and repeated mistakes for years on end
On the surface, my life became so hard to defend.
Many turned their back, gave up and shut their door.
You saw behind the hurt in me and stayed, just like before.
I was safe!

You gave me a voice
and I found a choice.
I’ve left my past behind
clearing my mind.
I have a long way to go
but the strength to say no.
Having you as a friend,
has helped me mend!

Chorus
© 2013 Åsa Sandberg

One step forward?

Yesterday I got a song I sent for evaluation returned. Today I’m going to share this evaluation with you, even though it makes me feel a bit vulnerable, due to some embarrassing mistakes. Still, I started this blog to get better in my craft and to share what happens to me with you, the readers. This is done in the hope that some of my experiences will be useful to you and your learning curve.

 

The lyric I got back yesterday is one that has done well for me in competitions. In the UK Songwriting Competition it was what they call “a border- line finalist” with 8 points, obviously this makes it a semi-finalist. Nothing more and nothing less.
The evaluation wasn’t bad, but it brought up similar issues from before; I don’t put enough meat on the bones when it comes to my story. The positive thing the evaluator said, was that I have a real talent when it comes to describing feelings. These were the exact words: “That said, you do have a penchant/talent for capturing heartbreak in the simplest of lyrics. That is a gift and not a learned talent, and you should nurture that.”
One thing that hit home and sank in from yesterdays evaluation was being told to get rid of the clichés or things that no one really would say in person. The evaluator said: “I know you are clever enough to find different ways to say these phrases in a way that has your own stamp on them.” I know this is going to sound really stupid, but yesterday was the first time I had ever realised how much more fun it would be to find my own clever ways of saying something, rather than use expressions so well known that they feel tired, even though they are very easy to reach for. I obviously, now and again, do find my own original expressions. That I’m very happy about. A lot of the time, though, I am too quick when writing, and use the first expression that pops in my mind. This is one thing I need to change.

 

When it comes to things no one would actually say when talking, I think I’m at a bit of a dis-advantage due to English being my second language. Sometimes some expressions sound better to me, then it does for a native. As I translated my expressions to Swedish I recognised that I would never say anything like that, so from now on that will be a pattern of mine. I will be saying the same thing in Swedish and if it sounds ridiculous there, I will know the same goes in English. The problem for people like myself who use English as their second language, is that most things, in our ears, sound really good in English. Whether or not it is good practise to use some expressions, they still sound so much better in English than in Swedish.
There were some grammar mistakes in the lyrics too, which is quite embarrassing. Especially surprising was the fact that no one before this evaluation had picked up and commented on my using the word “weary” when I meant “dreary”. The weather, which I was talking about, can’t be weary. Still, no one around me or any one judging in various competitions had commented on what to me is a serious mistake. I know some grammar issues are allowed to fall under the famous “poetic rights rule” and be accepted, but the use of the wrong word with a totally different meaning is not one of those.
Yesterday I wrote a new version of the lyrics in question, as suggested. I have added a bridge, to put more meat on the bones of the story, and I have changed a few clichés. I have shown you the original version before, in a blog I called Ideas https://asasfingerprints.blog/2018/02/28/ideas/  but I will put it in again so you can compare and see what changes I made. I have to say it is much easier changing the lyric if I have the melody. Without music I seem to be stuck in the tempo of the words and it is harder to find fresh ways of expressing something. Anyway, here are the two versions.
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!

Åsa
Alone (Semi-finalist in UKSC 2016)
The cold, empty feeling
when something is gone.
Too late to start over,
too soon to move on.

The joy of our meetings
has faded away.
If I’d seen it happen,
I’d asked it to stay.

Chorus
It feels like I’m standing
in the eye of the storm.
It’s cold and it’s weary,
I’m too numb to keep warm.
’cause deep down I know that it’s over,
and I’m all alone once again.

I miss being quiet
with you by my side.
Show weakness and sadness,
forget about pride.

To laugh about nothing,
to know what you think.
It’s all in the past now,
it went in a blink.

Chorus
©Åsa Sandberg 2016

 

ALONE (New version)

My life, as I knew it,
is suddenly gone.
Too late to start over,
too soon to move on.

The fun, happy moments
have faded away.
If I’d seen this coming,
I’d have tried to delay.

Chorus
It feels like I’m walking,
with no coat in a storm.
It’s cold and it’s dreary,
I’m too numb to keep warm.
’cause deep down I know that it’s over,
and I’m all alone once again.

I miss being quiet
with you by my side.
To show weakness and sadness,
forget about pride.

To laugh about nothing,
to know what you think.
It’s all in the past now,
it went in a blink.

Bridge
A few months from now, your new name will be dad.
You told me last night, with a “please don’t be mad”.
It should have been us, I should have been the mum.
We hoped for so long, but now our end has come.

REPEAT CHORUS

©2016/2018 Åsa Sandberg