Monday, 7 April 2014

Great Experience from a Great Experience. (SAC CHALLENGE 2014 Wrap up)

Finding a clear spot on a desk filled with scraps of paper and coffee cups is no easy task. Like the mind, the desk is jumbled, messy, begging for simplicity but the rain of chaos keeps crashing down upon it. Anxious eyes scan words on a screen searching for the inspiration that will make a hand reach for that old guitar hanging on the wall and rise to the challenge set before him. 

Six songs in six weeks. 

When the email came in, I got excited. Hell, I felt like a kid standing in the cereal aisle with the green light to grab whatever I wanted.
And each week, like many of my fellow songwriters, I pushed the clock, searched my mind and heart, and managed to come out the other side of the challenge...not only a better songwriter, but I made some friends, found some co-writers and added a few new songs to my existing catalogue.

The challenge within the challenge was finding the time each week to complete a full song to a level that would leave me smiling at the end of the day. 

With Christopher Ward steering the ship, and a whole crew of Canadian songwriters aboard, I knew I was in for a pretty cool ride.

 Week # 1 had us creating 5 opening lines, song titles and themes that truly inspired us. I draw your attention now to Mr. Matt Gerber.  Title: "A perfect world." An interesting melody gliding over unique chord changes reminiscent of great Beatles songs.

In week # 2, our challenge was to grow our antennae. Have a look at the outside world and pull a song from something we saw or witnessed.

The tragedy of loss is one of the hardest things we as human beings can ever go through. Knowing that we won't see that familiar smile from someone we knew and loved is haunting, and it follows us for our entire lives.  Sharing the pain of that experience is something that some people never have the ability to do. When I heard Lynn Mantles week #2 song, I stopped. My heart slowed down. I felt the pain in her voice and the memories in her lyrics. This is songwriting in its truest form...emotional and impossible to contain. Thank you for sharing Lynn.

Week #3 had us thinking outside of the box. Switching it all up for us.  "Just Go With It" by Jesse a great example of a song not following all the rules of songwriting.  Not only does it have some extremely unique instrument choices, the chord progression and lyrics leave me hanging on every corner of it waiting to see what comes by next.

In Week #4 we were challenged with spinning a cliche in a different direction. Taking the obvious and making it much less so. In all the blogs I read and songs I listened to that week, it was Allister Bradley who caught my attention.  Not only for his song...or his brilliant voice...or the way he tickles the ivories, but his blog captured what the challenge was all about. A great job. I am providing a link here to his blog and you can play his song "It's a Thin Line" from there.

Week # 5 and the world is spinning. Some of us were not only charged, excited and slightly overwhelmed by the challenge, but this was a week where we were able to let go of what was building up  inside our heads. The subconscious.

From the first week when I heard Scott's introduction song up on the SAC Facebook site, I knew this guy had something pretty cool. Great voice, some great guitar skills, good feel and some interesting perspective on songwriting.

We closed everything out in a collaborative effort in week #6. In that experience, my limits were tested, I opened my mind to others ways of working and learned more than I thought I would in this challenge. Thanks to my co-writers, Robert Campbell, Kristine St. Pierre and most certainly Rosanne Baker Thornley. Rosanne truly pushed me the hardest to expand my horizons...and after our sessions over skype, we had a song that would carry itself further than this challenge and into the eyes and lives of many more people.

As a songwriter who thrives on the heart and the honesty of a great song, this experience has not only made me a better writer, but has given me a new outlook on the landscape of Canadian Songwriters. Thank you Songwriters Association of Canada, and Lily Cheng for doing what you do.

Till next time
North Easton

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