Revisions, Revisions

October 11, 2016 § 2 Comments

I have written lyrics/songs for two-thirds of my life. For perhaps 95-percent of that time, I wrote one draft and called it done.

I suspect I have always had a limited attention span. That, or a lack of discipline, which is the reason I have never been able to make myself sit down and write a novel, even though I have long expressed a desire to do so. (There are other reasons, such as lacking a true sense of place and, therefore, not really having a strong setting in which to ground my story, but that is not germane to this post.)

Recently, I participated in (sat in might be a better term) a songwriter workshop in which the songwriter/workshop leader mentioned a songwriter who said it takes her 70 to 80 hours to write a song, with most of that time spent in revision. Hearing him state that, it was hard for me to fathom.

I have dashed off song lyrics in 15 minutes. And, usually, if a song does not completely reveal itself to me in a single day, it does not ever get finished. Slowly, that is starting to change.

As is my feeling about revision. Case in point: Earlier this year, while waiting to start a voice lesson, I began writing a song inspired by the brick walls surrounding me and the memory of a girl I went to grade school with. The initial version of the song took me a few weeks to finish, and I was pretty happy with the result, pre-songwriter workshop.

Looking at the song again the other day with an eye toward finally working up an arrangement with my wife, I still thought it was pretty good but didn’t really convey the emotion I was trying to express as strongly as I wanted. So, I began going through the lyrics and making changes.

I ended up changing roughly half of the first verse (the weakest part of the song as I saw it) and made a few other changes here and there. Is it a better song? I think so, but you can decide for yourself. The original lines are struck through so that you can compare them for yourself.

Rosalie

Within these walls, I’m forced to think about you can’t help but think about you
And all the things we’re never meant to share that we could never share
We weren’t prepared when temptation called us
And so our love could not go anywhere And in the end, we simply didn’t dare
I look back now and think of what we could have had about when things got rough
Sometimes, I feel like I could cry — instead, I wonder why
And try to figure out where things went bad You and I weren’t strong enough

We came from different worlds, never meant to be
But God sure knows we tried — Rosalie

All the nights we looked up at the stars
Wishing we were somewhere else, but that was never in the cards
The deck was stacked against us, our fate decided in advance already set
Tell me why, tell me why must love be so hard?

Here in these walls, echoes of your memory
And everything I though that we had found
I feel your shadow through every open doorway
Reminding me that you are not around
I see your picture, and staring at your smiling face
Wish that you were here with me — it wasn’t meant to be
Now there’s an emptiness I can’t erase

We came from different worlds, never meant to be
But God sure knows we tried — Rosalie

There’d be No happy ending meant in the stars for you and me
But God sure knows we tried — Rosalie

© 2017 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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