Never be the same

How many out there actually write most of their stuff sitting in front of a computer? And when I say write I don’t mean putting the words down on paper. To me that’s not writing. It’s just transferring the finished product onto paper; the final non-creative stage of the writing process.

I did none of that on the Friday just gone, but according to my way of seeing things I was writing all day long. Let me tell you about my Friday in detail, and trust me, there will be a point to this in the end.

On Friday I prepared lunches and cakes for morning and afternoon coffee for a two-day course that started on Saturday. Since I was scheduled to work at my normal job outside our home both Saturday and Sunday, I needed to prepare as much as possible of the course food on Friday. So, I made a Russian mushroom soup with cream and garlic, to be served with garlic bread. Delicious, if I may say so myself. To give the people on the course a choice, I also made a tomato soup a’ la Närpes. A Town close to where I come from in Finland. That soup is to be served with olives and feta cheese, and yes, I find this one delicious too.

When that was done, I made an onion pie to be served with baby potatoes and a fresh salad today, Sunday. After that I started to concentrate on desserts. I baked four dozen mince pies for Saturday and for afternoon coffee I made a chocolate swiss roll that I filled with banana and cream and I also covered with cream. Between doing the cooking and baking I’ve also washed some clothes and vacuumed the house, walked the dog etc.

You would be forgiven if you now were wondering what this can possibly have to do with lyric writing? Well, a couple of weeks ago, I saw a photo of a painting from a friend’s first art exhibition. I’ve seen the painting many times before and I absolutely love it. It is beautiful, sad, strong with both darkness and hope shining through in the motif. Anyway, seeing it again, I immediately got a twinge of an idea for a song lyric inspired by the painting, but that was all. The twinge made me believe there could be a good idea developing, but I also knew I had to leave that little seed of an idea to do its own thing. I couldn’t talk about it or even consciously think about it. I had to give it time.

On Friday while cooking, which is another creative outlet I truly love, the idea from that little twinge started to develop. First, I got the name of the song, and it will be called “Never be the same”. I also realised it will be a Christmas song, which surprised me, but in a happy way. After that I got the frame work and after that possible sentences of the chorus started to appear.

I suppose this writing process started, because I was so happy and relaxed whilst getting on with my cooking and baking, so I had time to communicate with my subconscious where the seed of this song lyric had been quietly taking form for a couple of weeks.

It probably won’t be that long before I can show you the finished product, because my writing process is quite quick most of the time after I have got this far.

I just wanted to share this with you, because what I’ve just describes is what I like most about creative writing. It is the weird and wonderful ways a story just appear when I’m in the middle of doing things that seem to be as far from writing as they possibly could be.

It may not be the “recommended” way of writing, but hey, it works for me and I will continue to write stories and song lyrics inside my mind while multitasking with one domestic chore or another, for as long as it works. If it means sitting less hours in front of a screen it can only be good in my book.

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

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Christmas lyrics

I know, I know. It is only October and I have just mentioned the C-word. I will have made a lot of people shout out in disgust by doing so, but it can’t be helped. I have many reasons to start planning and thinking of Christmas in October. First of all, I have a small, seasonal home baking business where I bake Nordic biscuits which I sell in boxes containing 56 biscuits and cookies of seven different kinds. I need to start to bake these (I will need more than 3000) next week. This is something I’ve done for almost a decade now and when I start to bake I also start play all my Christmas CDs. I’m convinced my biscuits taste better if they are accompanied by Christmas music while in the oven.

 
A second reason for me to think about Christmas well in advance, is that I have got family and close friends in Finland and I need to plan and prepare my parcels for them well in advance, so they reach their destination in time for the big day. So, as you can see, my head has to get into Christmas mode about now to avoid unnecessary stress.

 
I am a big fan of Christmas music, and I think I am so very lucky to have been brought up with Christmas songs that have both Swedish and English lyrics. A lot of Swedish Christmas songs have been translated from English, but there are also plenty of original Christmas songs written in Swedish. I have been collecting Christmas music on both LP and CD for as long as I can remember, and I am always on the lookout for more unusual Christmas songs or unusual arrangements of the more well-known songs. My dream or should I say, one of my goals as a lyric writer is to write enough brand-new song lyrics on the theme of Christmas, to make up a Christmas CD. It’s not an easy task, because most things to do with Christmas has been said and described so many times before in such beautiful ways, that it will be very hard to find a unique spin on the theme. So far, I have only managed one Christmas song lyric and it was written in 2013, which was my first year as a lyric writer. I gave the lyrics the name; “The modern way”. It reached the semi-finals in UK Songwriting Contest in 2015. Again, it was a lyric that divided the jury in England and America. In Great American Song Contest, they didn’t like that I had named my song “The Modern Way” and then never used the title in any kind of hook or Chorus. I can totally see their point and today this lyric is sitting I in a file on my computer that says, “Needs working on”. So far, I haven’t found a good solution for a change, even if I wouldn’t write like this anymore. Maybe I will leave this particular lyric to stand proud as the semi-finalist it is and concentrate on a new seasonal lyric instead. I will leave you with my first ever Christmas lyric, so you can judge for yourself, if you feel like it.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 
The modern way 
I planned to write a brand-new song,
which painted Christmas well.
It was to have a take so new,
that you could really tell.

I wasn’t gonna write one word,
describing starry eyes.
But circling around the core
was ending up in lies.

Chorus
Christmas
A multitude of joy for over 2000 years.
Christmas
A time when inner peace is overcoming our fears.
Christmas
A good excuse to make a lonely stranger a friend.
Christmas
A gift of love to carry through and keep until the end.

Bridge
Santa, toys and sparkling trees, abundance all around.
Our modern way to celebrate the love that once was found,
inside that tiny stable, one quiet starry night.
A love that’s kept us going, brought peace to every fight.

The world is very different now,
from what it was before.
We celebrate in modern ways
not better, but much more.
We eat and drink and buy and sell,
for months before “The Day”.
As long as we remember why,
who’ll judge the modern way?

Chorus
Christmas
A multitude of joy for over 2000 years.
Christmas
A time when inner peace is overcoming our fears.
Christmas
A good excuse to make a lonely stranger a friend.
Christmas
A gift of love to carry through and keep until the end.
Åsa Sandberg©2013

Collaborations

Today, I’m going to talk about patience, putting in the hours and how, if we do so, we sooner or later get the help we need. I’ve told you before that it can be difficult to measure progress as a lyric writer. Therefore, I try to take part in as many competitions I can find and can afford to send in my lyrics to. Having done this for a few years now, I’ve built up some connections with other musicians and writers. Even if I haven’t been a finalist or winner anywhere yet, I have had some success, and this is useful when looking for collaborators.

 
There have been times when I have doubted if I will ever find any more collaborators out there, but then suddenly, I have got three new projects on the go with as many new people. Two lyrics of mine are out there in the hands of two very talented musicians and the third project is one where I have been asked to write lyrics to a song that is being composed as we speak.

 
This obviously is a very nice situation to be in, because a lyric without a melody is like having a TV in a house without electricity. It is a nice thing to have, but not much point with having it in the long run. What I have realised after a few years of writing song lyrics is that everything takes time. I don’t think it is only people you have to convince you are here for the long run and are serious about your writing you have to put in hours of work for a long enough time to also let the Universe pick up on your pulse. If you write regularly and with a purpose for long enough, the Universe will hear this steady pulse of yours and feel that this is something you are serious about. Then, when the Universe senses your presence and commitment to your purpose, it will do everything in its power to give you what you need for your next step.

 
This is something I knew but had forgotten and because I had forgotten, I have been quite impatient at times. Especially last year when I almost gave up writing, only to realise this was something I could never do. Writing is my life, so instead of quitting I decided to get better and put in the hours and show commitment. Somehow this seems to have started to pay off, because I seem to be in a process where I am given what I need to get to that next, alluring step.

 
The absolute best thing with collaborating is to see what someone else’s creativity can do with my lyrics. I hope I never get blasé about how wonderful it is to hear a new song written around my words, for the first time, Normally the melody is totally different than I had imagined in my head, but usually it is always so much better than anything I could have imagined. It shows how differently everybody interprets words or how every person’s unique life experience puts different meanings to the words. It is a wonderfully fascinating feeling.

 
So, there will hopefully be some exciting times ahead, this autumn. Three new songs on their way and still around two months to wait for the results of my entries into UK songwriting contest. Life could definitely be worse.

 
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

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

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

Writing is healthy for us!

Today I feel I want to share this blog below with you all. I saw it on the UK Songwriting contest’s homepage and it confirms what I have instinctively known for a long time. Writing makes me happier and healthier. It doesn’t matter what I write, as long as I write. To me it doesn’t matter if the health factors are proven by science, I would continue to write even if that wasn’t the case. Still, maybe these scientific findings will give someone out there the nudge to finally pick up the pen and just let the words flow.

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!

 

Åsa

SCIENCE CONFIRMS THAT SONGWRITING IS GOOD FOR YOU

The act of creative writing, and songwriting in particular, has more benefits than most people realize.

The benefits are far reaching, affecting us both physically and mentally, and the interesting thing is that the quality of the writing has nothing to do with it. Just the act of writing itself leads to strong physical and mental health benefits and it doesn´t matter if anyone else reads your lyric or hears your composition, or if it is a commercial success or not. Just writing it is enough. The many benefits documented by researchers include long-term improvements in mood, reduction in stress levels, a reduction of depressive symptoms, lowered blood pressure, better lung and liver function and an improved immune system with fewer illnesses.

A major study at the University of Sidney (by Karen Baikie and Kay Wilhelm) on emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing discovered just how much time spent writing is needed to make a big difference. And its not that much. They say that although the more time spent writing the better, just 15 to 20 minutes of writing on three to five occasions over the course of their four-month study was enough to make a real and noticeable difference.

Another amazing finding is that writing can even make physical wounds heal faster. A study in New Zealand found that if medical biopsy patients wrote about their thoughts and feelings for just 20 minutes for three days in a row before the biopsy their wounds healed more quickly than the people in a control group. Other studies have shown that people with asthma who write have fewer attacks than those who don’t, AIDS patients who write have higher T-cell counts and cancer patients who write have more optimistic perspectives and improved quality of life.

So what exactly is it about writing that makes it so good for you? Well, researchers are generally agreed that the important thing is to express your own personal, traumatic, stressful or emotional events in your writing and composing. It seems that this is the key and it is this expression of personal events and trauma that leads to improvement in physical and mental health.

One well known researcher in this area is James W. Pennebaker from the University of Texas, Austin, USA. He is a leading authority on expressive writing and health and he says; “When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals they often experience improved health. They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function.” Pennebaker and others believe that the act of expressive writing distances people from the upheaval and trauma in their lives and allows them the space to creatively step back and express and evaluate their personal dramas and tragedies. They stop obsessing unhealthily on those events and instead they focus on turning this into a positive creative outcome. This leads to lower stress levels, a more positive outlook and an improvement in general health.

The good news is that you don’t need to be a famous or successful songwriter to get these great benefits. You just need to write! As a songwriter you probably already know that writing songs goes deeper than, well, just writing songs. We all instinctively know when we write that there is more going on at a deeper level. But now it has been confirmed by science. Every time you write a lyric or poem that expresses your feelings and your inner self, or compose a piece of music that expresses and contains a part of you, you are acting as your own personal therapist and doing your physical and mental health a huge favour. If you are a songwriter you are certainly doing something right. Keep on writing!

The International UK Songwriting Contest is now open for entries at www.uksongwritingcontest.com

Best wishes,
The UKSC Team

Remembering “The kids from Fame”

When I started this blog, I gave myself permission to now and again indulge in my personal favourites when it comes to music. So far, I haven’t done too much walking down memory lane, but today I will stride a few blocks down that specific, pink tinted path, and I would be very happy if you decide to join me.

 
It doesn’t happen very often, but now and again, you are exactly at the right age, at the right time and have the right interests to become totally hooked into a specific TV programme. This happened to me in the early 80s with the series “The kids from Fame”. The series went on for five years (six seasons) and I think I saw most of the episodes. “You got big dreams. You want fame. Well fame costs, and right here is where you start paying. In sweat!” For a few years that sentence blared out of the speaker (note speaker, not speakers) on the telly at home on Sunday evenings. I remember my dad watching too. My dad and I shared most things that had to do with music and he was never scared to delve into the music from my generation even if he himself, among many other genres, was a Sinatra and Bing Crosby man. I also bought all the sound track LPs that were released with the songs from the series, LPs which I totally wore out.

 
A few years back I stumbled upon the series again on a TV channel concentrating on nostalgia, but after having watched half an episode I decided that time had past both me and the series by, and I preferred to keep my involvement with “The kids from fame” safely anchored inside my memory to the time when it was all perfect.

 
The wonderful thing with music is that it rarely goes past its sell by date. This is true for the music from “The kids from Fame” too. Yes, some of the songs I got my fill for my whole life time just because I played them so much back then, but most of them I still love. This is especially true of the lyrics, which I surprisingly still know by heart. I will select some of my favourites that I feel can still hold their own some thirty years later, and share them with you here today.

 
I start with “Life is a celebration” written by Rick Springfield. I like his version too, but I heard it with the kids from Fame first. I love the lyrics in the first verse:

 
I was lost on a winding road
I thought that life had nothing left to give
Then you came and showed me that just to live
Was the greatest gift of all

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KyE_28H5oQ&index=1&list=PL27938203EC0C548A

 

My second choice is a song called “Songs”, and the reason I’ve chosen it, is that it so perfectly explains why I love music and songs so much. The song is written by Dennis Scott and in the TV series Jimmy Osmond made a guest appearance and performed the song together with Erica Gimpel (Coco in the TV-series). I have, on purpose, put in a clip of the song that starts with the intro of the TV series because those first notes still give me goose bumps when remembering the joy the 14 year old version of me felt, in having yet another 50 minute episode of TV-gold in front of me.

 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKGW1OeuMhg&list=RDLDAOM3KKJjE&index=19

 

 

The third song I’ve chosen is called “Lay back and be cool” written by Enid Levine. I’ve chosen it, not only because I like to song, but also because it is performed by my favourite in the TV series; the late, great Gene Anthony Ray, who was one of the few cast members to be involved both in the film Fame from 1980 and later the TV series. As a teenager I couldn’t take my eyes of the character Leroy Johnson and watching this video now, I realise that some things never change. Gene Anthony Ray was a brilliant dancer who oozed with charisma. Enjoy!

 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEDln4g6KFA

 

 

My last choice in this self-indulgent blog is a song called “Starmaker” written by Bruce Roberts and Carol Bayer Sager. I’ve chosen to finish with this song because most of the “kids” play a part in it and both the video and the song shows the essence of what the TV-series was about; hope, dreams, togetherness, support for each other etc. It was just perfect telly once upon a long time ago!

 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTM1Mo6IVR4

 

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

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

 

Imagine

Imagine the world without the song “Imagine” by John Lennon. It isn’t easy however hard I try.

 
I have gone back to my favourite website at the moment, www.songfacts.com and found that “Imagine” is the number one lyrics of today’s top 10. I will share the song facts about this wonderful song with you. One fact that I found amusing, since this particular fact makes me realise I wasn’t totally off the mark doubting the English grammar of that sentence when I heard the song as a teenager back in Finland. This is the fact; “According to Yoko Ono, who controls the rights to John Lennon’s music, the most frequent request she gets comes from musicians who want to record this song but change the “No religion, too” lyrics – a request she has always denied.”

 
A good thing to keep in the back of my mind if any critics or judges tells me off for not being grammatically correct!

 
Enjoy the song facts!
Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa

 

 

Lennon was asking us to imagine a place where things that divide people (religion, possessions, etc.) did not exist. He felt that would be a much better place.

 
This song is a strong political message that is sugar-coated in a beautiful melody. Lennon realized that the softer approach would bring the song to a wider audience, who hopefully would listen to his message.

 
Lennon took the sole songwriter credit on this track, but later said that his wife, Yoko Ono, should have been credited as well, as he got the initial idea from her book Grapefruit, which is a book of instructions with things like “Imagine the sky crying…” or “Imagine you’re a cloud.”

 

“I was a bit more selfish, a bit more macho, and I sort of omitted to mention her contribution,” he told the BBC. “If it had been Bowie, I would have put Lennon-Bowie… I just put ‘Lennon’ because she’s just the wife and you don’t put her name on, right?”

 

On June 14, 2017, the National Music Publishers’ Association announced that Yoko would finally be added as a songwriter for “Imagine.” This took place at a ceremony where Yoko was given the Centennial (song of the century) award for her contribution, which was followed by a Patti Smith performance of the song.

 
Some people have wondered if Lennon included a message in the video for this song as well. In the video, Lennon is dressed as a cowboy and Yoko Ono is dressed as an Indian squaw. This could be a kind of message about all cultures getting along.

Suggestion credit:
Adam – Dewsbury, England, for above 2

 
Lennon wrote this on a brown Steinway upright piano. In 2000, George Michael paid over $2 million for the piano that Lennon wrote this on, and then returned it to the Beatles museum in Liverpool. John’s piano has since been “on tour” to various world locations promoting peace.

 
Churlish listeners had a problem with the “no possessions” line, finding Lennon hypocritical since he was so well-off. Yoko Ono addressed this in a 1998 interview with Uncut, where she stated regarding her husband’s intentions: “He sincerely wished that there would be a time when all of us could feel happy without getting too obsessive about material goods.”

 
A sidewalk mosaic spells out the word “Imagine” in a section of Central Park dedicated to Lennon. The area is called “Strawberry Fields,” and is located across from Lennon’s apartment where he was shot.

 
This was not released as a single in the UK until 1975, when it hit #6. Shortly after Lennon’s death in 1980, it was re-released in the UK and hit #1. It was replaced at #1 by Lennon’s “Woman,” marking the first time an artist replaced himself on top of the UK charts since The Beatles followed “She Loves You” with “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”
This is credited to The Plastic Ono Band, the name Lennon used for some of his recordings after leaving The Beatles. Ringo Starr played drums on this and Klaus Voorman played bass.

 
On September 21, 2001, Neil Young performed this on a benefit telethon for the victims of the terrorist attacks on America. Almost 60 million people watched the special in the US.

 
At a 2001 tribute special to Lennon, Yolanda Adams sang this with Billy Preston on organ. Preston played keyboards on some Beatles songs, including “Get Back.”
Oasis used the piano intro on their 1996 song “Don’t Look Back In Anger.”

 
In 2002, this came in #2 in a poll by Guinness World Records as Britain’s favorite single of all time. It lost to “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen.

 
This has been covered by many bands, including Our Lady Peace, and a vastly toned-down version by A Perfect Circle. Jack Johnson recorded it for the 2007 compilation Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur.
Suggestion credit:
Jeffrey – Victoria, Canada

 
This song plays a role in the movie Forrest Gump. Gump (played by Tom Hanks) appears on a talk show with Lennon, talking about a place where there are “no possessions” and “no religion.” It’s implied that Gump gave Lennon the idea for this song.

 
Some speculate that this song contains backwards messages. With a keen ear and large imagination, you can barely make out the words “people war beside me” when reversing the line “Imagine all the people.”
Suggestion credit:
Spencer – Los Angeles, CA

 
On September 13, 1980 Elton John did a free concert in New York’s Central Park, ending it with this song. This performance was three months before Lennon’s untimely death; before playing the song Elton said, “This is for a dear friend of mine who doesn’t live too far from here, so let’s sing it loud enough for him to hear it” (Lennon lived only a few blocks from that part of Central Park). The flamboyant Elton performed the song wearing a Donald Duck outfit.
Suggestion credit:
Chris – Philly, PA

 
Lennon said this song is “virtually the Communist Manifesto.” That’s usually the last we see of the quote, but Lennon added: “even though I am not particularly a communist and I do not belong to any movement.”
Suggestion credit:
Adam – Mechanicsburg, PA

 
This song returned to the Hot 100 three times in the late 2000s, thanks to cover versions by Jack Johnson (#90, 2007), David Archuleta (#36, 2008) and The Glee Cast (#67, 2009).
The jazz musician Herbie Hancock recorded this as the centrepiece to his Imagine Project. His version features Jeff Beck, P!nk, Seal, India.Arie, Konono N°1 and Oumou Sangaré.

 
According to Yoko Ono, who controls the rights to John Lennon’s music, the most frequent request she gets comes from musicians who want to record this song but change the “No religion, too” lyrics – a request she has always denied.

 

 

So, does this mean you can record any song, but you need special permission to alter the lyrics? Essentially, yes. Alex Holz at the music licensing and royalty service provider Limelight explained to us: “Artists can be afforded ‘some’ leeway in adapting a track to your band’s style (so long as you don’t alter the fundamental character of the work), though lyric changes/alterations typically require direct permission from the publisher as a derivative work. Every songwriter/publisher/song is unique and requirements vary.”
This was the last song played on WABC before they switched from a Top 40 format to talk radio. Based in New York City, WABC was for decades the top AM radio station in the country. They debated long and hard to decide which song should be their farewell.
Suggestion credit:
Rob – Minneapolis, MN

 
A moving rendition of this song took place in Paris on November 14, 2015 at the Bataclan theater, where 89 people were killed by gunmen in terrorist attacks the previous night. The German pianist Davide Martello brought his grand piano to the theater, and played the song while crowds mourned outside the venue.

 

 

Over the next few days, Martello brought the piano to every location in Paris where the attacks took place, performing the song in tribute.

 
When Nike used the Beatles song “Revolution” in 1987 TV commercials, Yoko Ono joined the surviving band members in suing the company. In the court proceedings, it was revealed that Yoko appeared in a Japanese TV commercial for a telephone company where “Imagine” plays. According to court documents, she authorized use of the song and was paid about $400,000. The “Revolution” case unified the Beatles in their opposition to having songs used in commercials, especially since they didn’t control the rights – Capitol Records and Michael Jackson did.

 
At the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, four singers from that country performed the song, with each taking a verse. The singers represented a range of genres, including K-pop, with Ahn Ji-young of the duo Bolbbalgan4 performing along with Ha Hyun-woo of the rock band Guckkasten, Jeon In-Kwon of the rock band Deulgukhwa, and the solo artist Lee Eun-mi.

 

 

The theme of the ceremony was “Peace in Motion,” with a message of unity as athletes from North and South Korea entered under one flag.

 
Ben & Jerry’s, makers of “Cherry Garcia” and “Phish Food,” named an ice cream flavor after Lennon’s hit song in 2007. Retired since 2013, “Imagine Whirled Peace” was a caramel ice cream mixed with toffee cookie pieces and chocolate peace signs.

 

 

Self-acceptance

Today I’m doing something I probably will never do again, but I’m doing it because of the realisation that what I’m talking about will most likely make an enormous difference to the way I write song lyrics from now on. So, what is it I’m going to do? Well, I’m going to share a blog post here from a different blog I’m writing, called “Overweight thoughts” to put into my blog about lyric writing.

 
In this blog post called “Mirror, mirror on the wall” I share a very powerful moment and a realisation I had at work yesterday and I’m sharing it with you, here because I know I’m far from the only one struggling with issues like this. I also know that everything in our lives is connected. If I am at peace with myself, I will write better song-lyrics, even if I may choose to write sad lyrics. I’ll let you read the parts of the blog I have cut out as relevant to my song-writing and get back to you at the end.

 

I can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t hated mirrors with all of my heart. I have avoided looking into them as much as I’ve been able to, because I have been so appalled with the image facing me. It has made me cringe, look away and feel sick. Facing myself in the mirror or on a photo has actually been the worst thing someone could force me to do.

 
Even those few years in the early 1990’s when I was slimmer than I had ever been, I had the same problems with photos and mirrors, which means that not all of this horror has to do with weight. It’s more to do with not recognising the person in my reflection or in a photo as me. As the person I know I am meant to be both inside and out.

 
In 1990 when I lost weight successfully for the first time, I thought getting rid of excess weight and looking “normal” would solve all my problems and with that done, I would settle into the routines people do in their mid-twenties (or did back then) with steady jobs, a house and sooner or later a family. The horror I felt when I realised that however slim I was, I still was as insecure, I still had the same difficulties “socialising” with small talk, I still hated to go out to night clubs, etc. All these thigs made me a loner. A loner that felt like the piece of a jigsaw that had landed in the wrong box and didn’t belong to the picture. It was this feeling which got me started down a road where most things in my life would become very much worse before they finally became better.

 
I’ve now realised that back in 1990, I didn’t like my mirror image, because I didn’t recognise what was inside my physical frame as the real me. Me; -the person I was meant to be according to my soul, was hidden behind so many insecurities and horrors from my life up to that point that, even if the frame may have been the one I feel most comfortable in, everything else was wrong. I have also realised that every attempt I’ve made since the 90’s to get back to my ideal weight have failed, because inside I wasn’t ready. In my mind I was still judging myself for absolutely every mistake I’ve ever made (and they are many). Sadly, I also have an excellent memory when it comes to remembering my own mistakes, and unfortunately also those of other’s. There was no way I could succeed in losing weight while I kept on punishing myself for everything I’d done wrong and harbouring negative thoughts towards other people in my life that weren’t perfect either.

 
This year has so far been full of miracles on many levels. Last week I told you that I have realised that I am now healed inside. I have suddenly been able to stop blaming myself for everything that goes wrong in this world and I have managed to let go of my self-judgement.

 
Well this morning, while cleaning the floor in the female locker room at the supermarket I now work in, I had the biggest miracle of them all. As always going in I looked down to avoid looking into the full mirror in the room. Then something inside me said; why don’t you take a look. So, I did. A bit hesitant, but I did. Then I got my miracle. I didn’t cringe, I didn’t feel sick and I didn’t look away! Instead I looked at me. And I felt a very deep happiness because I finally recognised myself in the mirror image. Just as I am supposed to be. Granted, I still have a good two stones (15kg) to lose before I am where I want to be with my physical weight, but the person looking back at me was definitely me. Both inside and out; warts and all. I am so happy I was alone in the locker room because this self-acceptance was so powerful that I could not hold back the tears. It’s taken me almost 52 years to get to a point in my life where I can look at myself in a mirror and say; “Hello! Nice to finally meet you! Well done for getting this far. Enjoy the rest of your life!”

 
No one who hasn’t felt that intense disgust when seeing oneself in the mirror, will ever really understand how big this moment was and what it has taken to get to where I am today, being able to write this down for all of you to read. All of you that haven’t had to experience that on your life’s journey, will just have to believe me when I say that it is one of the most extraordinary things that has happened in my life. I suppose it is called self-acceptance.

 

I think that if we don’t feel good enough or feel insecure as people, it is hard to reach our full potential as lyric writers. In my case I know that when I’m writing it has made me avoid some subjects. For instance, sometimes I just haven’t felt secure enough in myself as a person to share my honest emotions through a song lyric, even if I know the lyric would have benefited from my honesty.

 
Let’s hope that my newly found self-acceptance will allow me to write whatever I feel like writing from now on and lets also hope that you out there reading this, feeling the same way I have felt, and will be able to get to your point of self-acceptance very, very soon, because you are worth it!

 

Take care until next time and Happy Writing!
Åsa