Creative Recycling

Years ago I wrote a poem that I’ve ended up using quite a lot on social website profiles in the ‘about you’ section. It was sufficiently mysterious while also being perfectly autobiographical, and it was easier to copy and paste the poem rather than to think of something else witty and interesting to say about myself. How better to represent myself as the arty ol’ farty I am than to describe myself with a poem? Even so, it’s been a long time since I revisited that poem or even considered it in passing.

Poets aren’t always songwriters and songwriters aren’t always poets. Occasionally, however, the two do meet together in the one, and you end up with Leonard Cohen…and me. Sometimes there are too many words and not enough music, while other times the words are not enough and there must be music to carry the few that are there. Ah, but now, I really do wax poetic. 😉

But, please, indulge me.

And, where do the lost and forgotten poems go? Is there a graveyard for the written and discarded rhyme? You may not remember those scribbled lines. But, rest assured, they remember you. You may forget the words, but the words never forget. And, if you’re quiet enough, you can hear their whispered echoes, reverberating beyond time.

And, this is what it is to be a poet.

And, this is what it is to be a poet who is also a songwriter…and, what it is to be me.

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An Interview with a Songmistress

Check out the recent interview I gave to Josh Taylor at Unchartered Streams about my career in music, songwriting, leading worship, my creative process and being an indie artist. I was very happy to give the interview and hope people find my answers entertaining, insightful and enlightening.

“Interview with Autumn Dawn Leader”

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Write It Down

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Meet my new songwriting pen. Well, how could I resist?

Pens are important. For writing things down. Like, of course, song lyrics and chord progressions…and really good days.

Blogs are good for that, too. Well, for recording really good days, anyway. It’s important to document the good ones. Because, life is too long not to (that isn’t a typo, in case you wondered).

Today I got my hair done (it was a mess, I needed it). It looks better now and, thus, I feel better now.

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And, the salon I went to didn’t ask me where I was from or where I was going on holiday this year. Excellent.

I got a new songwriting pen (as you saw above). Honestly, I am so easy to please.

I had fun with The Reason I Breathe. Aren’t we cute?

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And, we had a lovely afternoon and evening with friends, just chilling, eating, watching a film (The Hobbit), and playing (Guitar Hero, which, I have discovered, I suck at. I don’t feel bad about this; I hear that all real musicians suck at it). I don’t have a visual of said fun because I was too busy having said fun.

Good day. A day that was more smile than struggle. So beautiful. So rare. So worth the recording thereof.

I hope you had a good day.

Goodnight.

An Anthem of Anguish

I recently wrote a very morose song. In fact, when I played it for my husband – and I had warned him beforehand of the moroseness thereof – he said, “Oh! You mean really morose! It’s really good, but it’s really morose.”

I debated sharing it with the public at large. I mentioned my dilemma on my Facebook Page. My exact words were: So, I’m wondering if the latest song I’ve written is a bit too morose. When I say “morose”, think ‘Bottle’ and multiply the moroseness thereof about 100 times. Yeah…it’s a downer. But, the question is, is it too much of a downer?

Someone then asked, “What’s it about?”

I responded with, Pain…depression…life…pain.”

The words that came up inside me after I’d hit the post button were: anguish, grief. This is an anthem of anguish.

Someone else posted after I did: Plenty of songs were inspired and written about heartache, pain, suffering etc. Put it out there as there will be plenty who will relate and thank you for putting into words how they might feel.” 

This comment encouraged me to go ahead and share it for the reason of putting words to heartbreak and even, in this case, actual emotional breakdown and the ofttimes daily struggle that those with severe depression can go through. But, when I finally recorded the song, I realised I wanted to share it not only for that reason – not only to share how I feel when faced with my stressors and to be a voice for those who don’t have the words for it…  

I don’t want to limit this song.

What I think can be easily heard right away is that Waterfall was influenced by both the classical and musical theatre music genres. It  has a rather epic feel (and it has a life of its own, as many songs do; certainly it is bigger than the singer/songwriter who wrote it. I am tempted to call it a ‘masterpiece’, but I would not like to appear quite that bigheaded). Also, I wrote it while reading The Hunger Games Trilogy, and I believe that the first three lines of the song were, at least in part, inspired by them. Waterfall came with force, crashing into me (not unlike waves of grief themselves – it kept coming up and over me) – and, when I resisted it a bit, it kept coming at me in wave after relentless wave until I had it written. So, for that reason alone – the song’s insistence – it deserves to be heard. And so, I give you this beautiful, tragic, brilliant, morose song…for all that it’s worth. Because, after all, I feel it is, indeed, worth a lot.

 

 

Never Let Them See You Sweat?

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I tend to show, or wear, my vulnerability. Perhaps a bit too much. I don’t know if it makes me “real” or “honest” or if it just makes me weak and whiny. It’s probably some of the former but too much of the latter. But, I honestly don’t know. I do know it’s just me; it’s just really honest, weak and whiny me.

I have been working on an album. I think maybe three people, besides me, are excited about it. The thing is, if that’s all there is, has it been worth all the effort I have put into it? The blood, sweat and tears. The sacrifice of time with family, the hard graft to produce the thing myself (not only to write, sing and play the songs). I appreciate – very, very much – the three (or, perhaps five) people who might be really happy with getting my album. But, are those faithful few (precious though they are to me) enough to spend the money (that could go to food and clothes for the kids… and, don’t forget books – books are good) to get the album distributed?  I haven’t made up my mind. I tell you the truth, I’m very conflicted. I might just upload it and offer it as a free download to those faithful few.  Because…yeah, I’m sweating it. What if I upload my hours and hours of hard work and sacrifice – if I offer my pearls – and it simply gets trampled on?

Perhaps I wait. I was planning a release next month (November 2012). But, maybe not. The songs will wait. They are recorded, they are backed up… they aren’t going anywhere. And, although I was, in a sense, running out of time (because I’m not getting any younger and I won’t have my voice forever) I have these files, safely locked away. For myself, if no one else. Maybe next year?  Maybe never? Maybe to a select few? Maybe to the world and just see what happens?

I have learned a lot through the process of writing and producing this album. One, I have learned I do not want to be a producer. What a pain! Hats off to those of you who do production for a living. Two, I have learned that patience is key. And, if you have to re-record it a hundred+ times to get it right, then it is worth it when you do, finally, get it. Three, I have learned that I like my music for what it is and have come to terms with limitations as well as celebrating strengths. Four, I have become a better songwriter and am a better judge of what works and what doesn’t. Five, I may be confused over what to do with this album, but I am not in any doubt over its worth: I am proud of my accomplishment.

Music quietly fades out.