Friday, 8 March 2013

The quick brown box jumps over the lazy blog

Sometimes, just a little boost is all we need to reach something from the top shelf, change a lightbulb, dunk a basketball or see the world in a different light. My fingers normally dance across tired strings, or black and white keys while I mumble into the air in search of a moment that gives my musical side the fix it needs. Like a junkie I sit there for hours at times waiting for that moment...that buzz...that satisfaction that compels me to stay up till my eyes rebel and my thoughts turn cloudy. I love it!
 Oh I don't stand up at a typewriter like Hemingway or wander the streets with no destination in mind ala Dickens...but I have my habits, my ticks, my routine. Over the years this process for me has evolved, changed, developed into a structure...a ritual...a recurring method that has certainly delivered some songs that I am happy I have written. And then...

Week 1
{enter Mr. Pattison} [lights up]

There is an area near home where several new houses have just been built. Each one unique in its own way. Red brick, grey siding, paved driveway, cobblestone walk, huge front door with steps, small entranceway with pillars. Inside, I imagine some of these homes have big foyer type entrances. Others have a winding staircase that climbs up to a second floor. Finished basement with a games room, or a bar, maybe a kick ass home theater set-up. But, they are all just houses. They all have bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, laundry rooms and hallways. And every single one of them was built with a detailed set of plans out of the mind of someone trying to make it fit into a mould but being uniquely different in some kind of way. 

After hearing Pat (and i can call him Pat, cause we are such good friends) walk me through the first phase of this course...I had a laugh. I have been building houses for years, just grabbing a hammer, some nails and a pile of wood and going with my gut. Try and see what I can create. I know I'm probably not the only one to sit back after he explained the boxes and say to myself..."Uh...why didn't I think of that before? That just makes sense!"
-The Science Fair-
I think what I loved best about the science fair in school...wasn't my own table (Capillary Action 101) but having a walk around the gymnasium floor and getting a chance to see in the minds of my classmates. Some of them, so extraordinary in their experiments. Detailed explanations, graphs, things that plug in, things that explode. This part was certainly the highlight of these events and Writing songs is no different. All of us songwriters taking part in this adventure are not only anxious to see where this journey takes us, but where will it take everyone else as well? 

The truth of the matter for me and my Capillary Action Experiment is quite metaphoric to the bulk of projects in my life. I didn't plan ahead and take weeks to write my hypothesis, or design some elaborate Rube Goldberg Machine . I waited till the night before the fair...panicked...and came up with something. Procrastination maybe? Delayed Gratification perhaps? Laziness...probably? 
And if I think back to some of the other accomplishments in my life...there are certainly a large number that kept me up the night before without sleep. But as Pat has tasked us on a new approach...I have managed to find a little time each day to not only reflect on my assignment, but plan it out before I picked up the hammer and the nails.

-So North...what song title did you choose and why?-

At the beginning of the week, after reading the titles to choose from, I did what any confident songwriter would do...chose my own! I thought of each box and how my idea would grow throughout and yet stay connected. My mind and my fingers sat down in the same room, talked into the night, worked together and by tuesday...I was ready to submit.

But then the question came back to me again. Why did I start this course? If I took the same roads, ordered the same food, watched the same movie over and over again...where would the new experience come from? So I dove back in on Wednesday night to the Two Story House title. I knew this would be one that some writers would pick and others would avoid like the plague simply because Pat had already given his take on it. And so the challenge began. Make it work. Put your own spin and write a story. Something that will bring out the emotion you search for when you write. Love? Pain? Anger? Bliss? 

I started getting really excited as the idea started to bloom. The clock was on vacation as I thought out each box in vivid detail. It wasn't easy at first, but when the common thread between my ideas hit me...I felt that adrenaline rush, that moment where you finally find your keys, those brand new shoes that make you run faster and jump higher. I once again found the reason why I love to write songs. 

Thats all for me this week as I have a bunch of my children, huddled up on a couch right now waiting for me so we can finish our "Bourne" marathon.

Thanks for reading. Leave a comment. Ask a question.

-Coming Soon-

My Take on the Two Story House 
(recorded version as I also promised myself a finished song each week of this course.)

Week 2 and the new doors that open - Friday

Have a great March Break everyone!


  1. When I read your title (on the SAC Songwriting Course Community thread) I had to read your blog entry. I love your little box people, the big one - with a worried expression - helping the little one - with a hugely satisfied grin - up and over a wall that would otherwise be unscaleable. Oh those little song-children, needing just a little help to make their way out into the world.

    Why is your blog called "a beautiful crash"?

    Also (sorry to be so obtuse) why is your hand a dolphin?

    Check out my blog, at

    - Ros

  2. Hey Ros,

    Firstly, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Appreciate it.
    A beautiful crash. There are a number of reasons that I settled my blog onto this name. There are moments when things crash together...people on the street, ideas and collaboration, the exhaustion one experiences after letting passion consume them past the wee hours of the morning and into the day ahead...and of course crashing in the literal sense...planes, trains and automobiles. Although these accidents can be horrific, they are a fact of life, and as an eternal optimist, I fully believe that great things can come from the terrible ones that afflict us.

    Think of the law of seatbelt and how that must have passed...or air bags...better car design etc.

    My hand is a dolphin is the feeling of your hand out a car window as you pretend to dive in and out of the water as dolphins do.

    Going to go check your blog right now. Thanks again for stopping by.

    All the best

  3. That last photo of the upside-down house is amazing. Thanks for sharing some of your memories in this post. And I agree--if we really want to be stretched, we need to do something different. I find it very stretching to write to parameters that others specify.

    I also loved your comparison of building houses to writing songs. So, so true. I'm looking forward to listening to your work! (Not tonight, though... must... sleep....)