Here is an album of songs written mostly in 2008, a time when I seemed to have unending energy for songwriting. They came so easily for a while there—I wrote 40 songs that year—and hearing them now (2012), I think I perceive a connection between that tempo in creation and the energy and intensity they seem to have.
Perhaps even more than usual with me, the songs here express the so-called neurotic conflicts I experience, and also perceive all around me. (Like quite a few true nuts, I got interested enough in the therapeutic process that I became a healer of sorts myself, practicing the holistic body therapy, Body Sense.) The emotional content is, as I say, kind of intense in some of these, so much so that I think it might be worth saying that, though certainly I have lived, and continue to do so, these aren’t for the most part my own true stories I’m telling here. I hope, more nearly, they might be yours.
I had help from a couple of dear friends on this one, singers Maja Heurling and Sofia Bagge, as noted below, but otherwise it’s just me singing, and playing guitar, bass, bongos and snare drum.
About the songs:
1. I Don’t Want to Do It.
Desire and resistance, in coexistence. I teach songwriting from time to time, along with the guitar lessons and singing lessons and lessons in improvising, and the music theory classes, and I had a session with a group where I proposed a particular favorite method of mine: a demonstration. Take 45 minutes or so and start writing a song from scratch—got to come up with everything now on the spot, with witnesses, see how far you get. Tell them out loud everything you’re thinking, let them hear every idea, and what you think about it. Why you can’t use this, why you can’t use that. What you have to be looking for here, why you need this kind of melodic phrase here, etc. etc. It’s pretty naked, and pretty plain embarrassing in fact, since most of the ideas that cross your mind are utterly worthless at best.
For me it’s a good way to work, since there are so many principles of this art form that I believe in, but I can hardly ever think what most of them are unless I’m actively involved in the writing process. Then they jump up constantly though, and with perfect clarity, along with exact concrete examples.
The class thought it sounded like a cool idea, and, oops, I was stuck. I had to do it now. Too late, I realized I might not have the guts that day to go through with it. So I told them. ”I don’t want to do it!” And I had my subject. All I got in those 45 minutes was the bare beginning, but once I got off by myself I was able to flesh it out very satisfactorily.
My sense of the nature of life is that love is the central energy that defines us, the most important thing, the one thing that is always of interest, the one thing we all agree on. More or less, that is. And so I right about love, even if my true subject is a reluctance to take on a challenging bit of work in a teaching context, I wrote that reluctance into a love scenario. I want it so badly, and also not, just as badly. I know, a lot of people will have been here.
2. I’m Bigger Than You.
Competition. Ego. Knowing the prize belongs rightfully to you, and knowing just as well, you may be disappointed. Naturally I put this also in a love context.
3. In the Afterglow.
This one is what it seems. Is there anything so magic as that moment floating in eternity with someone new and wonderful?
4. The Fun I’m Having Now.
The cause of all suffering is desire, said the Buddha, to which I can only reply, ”Oh really? How’s your knee?” Still the point, though not perfectly sound, is worth considering. For me that’s a tough one though. There are so many things I would love so dearly to try. Still, on the other hand, I know what I’ve got, and I know I like it.
5. Shut Up, I Hate You!
Written to myself, as it happens, after I leaned a little too hard on a student I had. I wanted her to bring more raw emotion into her songwriting, but all I accomplished was to hurt her feelings. And how I hated myself for it. So I took the chance to write the song I might have written if I were in her place right then, holding nothing back at all. What I didn’t expect in all that turmoil was that it would come out as such a feel-good singalonger. It makes me so happy to hear it now. I have some help on this one in the person of Sofia Bagge, singing a couple of the voices on the last refrain.
6. I Don’t Need You.
One of the songs I’m proudest of. Feels like a standard tune to me. This is another love song inspired by something other than a romantic relationship, in this case a massage therapist I was trading treatments with. The title line came up in conversation, and it really was true for both of us. I did enjoy those sessions though.
7. Time for My Therapy.
Okay, this one is really about what it seems to be about. I was on my way in to a session with Andreas Lindermann, the founder of Body Sense and my teacher and favorite therapist for many years now, and I was in a great mood, so I came bursting through the door singing the first eight bars or so of the refrain, just improvising. Somehow after the session, I still remembered it, and I was able to get a whole song written around it. Here we have what may be a new thing in the history of music: the first scat crying chorus ever recorded. It may have been done before, of course, but I never heard it. If you’re reading this and you know of anyone who’s done it before, please let me know. I don’t want to be taking credit for an innovation if I’m not really the first. Anyway it was a new thought for me, and it was fun doing it.
8. Just Google Me.
Evolution is, in most ways, an extremely slow process, which I think is why people tend to be so conflicted in their emotional lives, especially in love. 6000 years of patriarchy hasn’t been enough to wipe out the demands of the DNA going back millions of years before that. On the other hand, the culture we’re living in is moving so fast it can make your head spin. I realized around the time I wrote this song that we have now reached a point where it is impossible to tell a lie; and also perfectly unnecessary to tell the truth.
9. You Call Her a Whore.
A tribute to free women. They have my full support.
10. Why Won’t You Just Talk to Me?
The dance of the sexes. Okay, battle. You wonder sometimes if people even really want to understand each other. I am joined on this one by the Swedish singer and songwriter Maja Heurling. Not the easiest song in the world to learn, and she really got it.
11. I Had a Dream.
You probably did too, somewhere along the line. Maybe you even did something about it. Not me.
12. My Inner Critic.
I walked into a classroom where I was working, and there on the board my colleague Eva Hillered (another fine Swedish singer-songwriter), who had a class just before mine, had drawn a stick figure with a very dark and disagreeable facial expression, and labeled it ”The Inner Critic”. I just thought that was great. So I took the phrase home, made a few notes, turned on the machine and improvised this.
13. When I See Your Face.
This, I guess, is track 1 all over again, but seriously this time.
14. My Myspace Space.
Our culture’s lightning dizzyingly rapid evolution again. This song, silly small trifle that it is, took about a year and a half to finish, during which time its subject had gone from the newest hip thing in my life to… well… nostalgia.
15. You Love Me.
Don’t you love it, when you know?