It’s October and I’ve got baseball on the brain. There’s a nice chill in the air, the leaves are falling and my beloved Boston Red Sox are in the playoffs. Needless to say, it’s been tough finding time and focus for songwriting. But a commitment’s a commitment and I had a song to get out this week.
October started early last Sunday morning at the acoustic guitar. I was playing around with some patterns all the while bemoaning the previous night’s poor performance and loss by the Sox. I was pretty down, thinking, ‘After all the excitement of this season, you’re going to go and blow it now?!’ (Doesn’t sound like the optimist you’ve come to know, does it?) Thankfully, they’ve pulled it together since and kept our hopes alive.
Anyhow, as I strummed the very simple I – IVmaj7 pattern, I started singing, ‘Why do I care?’ over it. It came from a sincere place of wondering ‘Why I am feeling down at this moment because last night a bunch of guys lost a game to another bunch of guys.’ Of course, thinking about it like that didn’t really help but it did spark an idea for a song. I figured why not right about the fan’s dilemma of getting so caught up in their team and their games that they allow their mood to be dictated by something completely out of their control. I was also thinking about the paradox of how the better a season a team has and the farther it goes into the playoffs, the more it hurts when they finally lose and that season ends. Losing in the championship stings much more than the fizzling out of a .500 season. At least that’s been my experience.
I quickly had a plan in mind to build a song around this irrational fanaticism even down to the idea of the bridge hitting the singer with the reminder that when his team loses it just feels awful. I’d then end by repeating, ‘Why do I care?’ as we fade out, asking why we allow our emotions to be dictated by something out of our control. It all seemed good in my head but it left the challenge of making it happen, of figuring out how to ‘back’ into that outro. In other words, having the song build to a point where it makes sense that we’re singing ‘Why do I care?’ as we fade out. It turned out to be more challenging than I anticipated.
Because I was pretty set on my simple chord patterns and melodies, I was able to spend most of the (baseball-shortened) week on lyrics trying to get the word puzzle to work. Again, creating verses and a chorus that would lead into the despondent ‘Why do I care?’. Getting there was tough. There were quite a few discarded lines and to be honest, the lyrics still feel unfinished to me. I’m going to press unsure of whether the song works. It’s not the first time I’ve felt that this year, but that doesn’t make it feel any better.
In the end, I had to just let it go. On a very practical level, I had an important family commitment on Saturday and so wanted to get the week’s song out before heading to bed Friday night. I could have given myself an extra day and gone with a Sunday release but to be honest, I don’t think the extra time would have done much for the song. Perhaps but I was ready to move on.
There is one last thing I wanted to get into the blog this week. I’ve just wrapped up week 42. With so many of my songs swirling in my head as I write, I’m constantly bothered by thoughts like ‘This sounds familiar. Did I do this already?’ I know for sure that I’ve used some similar chord progressions and melodies in a few of the songs and it’s got me wondering if this is normal when you’re writing constantly. Some pros write several songs a week. Do they deal with a similar phenomenon? Sorry for the reality show confessional, but the blog is my production diary for the year. I wanted to get it down. I will be watching this as I make my way through the rest of the year.
And with that, we say goodbye to #42. (How cool is it that #42 turned out to be a baseball song. Completely unintended. I promise.) Thanks for following along and have a great week!