Thursday, April 26

Showtunes bustin' out all over.

Okay, I don't watch American Idol...which means there are good chunks of time at parties and over dinners where I have nothing to contribute to the conversation. I don't watch a huge amount of TV, and tend to steer clear of those shows that seems to require multiple-hour commitments several days a week. (Okay, and also, I'm a snob about singing, so American Idol usually makes my skin crawl.)

But when my super-duper playwright collaborator came in to our work session today and told me that someone sang "You'll Never Walk Alone" on American Idol, I felt compelled to check it out. It's actually pretty kick-ass! I have always LOVED this song, but most of the times I've seen it in a performance of Carousel, it's all sweet and soprano-y. And I've always thought it should be Mariah-ed out a little bit.

The best part is the girl who chose to sing the song (for American Idol Brings Hope To The World Week, or something) is only 17! And she chose a song from a classic musical! I love it!

(Still not gonna watch American Idol, but I did appreciate this clip!)

Thursday, April 19

Three rules for riding the subway with Adam.

Well, not so much rules, as Things That Will Happen:

1) If you and the other people around you form a wall three-people deep on the subway platform, and if you leave no space through which I may exit the train, you will get pushed. Because I will push you.

2) If, during rush hour, you wrap your entire body around the pole in the subway car, so that none of the other thousand people around you can hold on to it, I will put my hand on the pole exactly at your eye level, and as the train moves, your face will be knocked into my hand many times. You will give me funny looks, and I will not care.

3) If you are non-chalantly reading your book, and at regular intervals exclaim, full-voiced, "GRRRRRRR....I AM THE WOLFMAN!" without so much as looking up from the pages of your novel, you will be my favorite person on the train, because you have not touched me or blocked my path, and you have made me smile.

Sunday, April 8

A sweaty glimpse...

As a writer, and particularly, I think, as a writer of music and lyrics, I am often asked about the Process of Writing. How long does it take you to write a song? Where'd this-or-that idea come from? Do you do the music first, or the lyrics?

I wish I could answer these questions. Like, "Oh, you know, you just take three cups of words, simmer over a melody for twenty minutes, pepper with rhymes, to taste. Want one? I'll cook one up for ya right now."

But the truth is, I have very little idea, really, of what the process is. When I look back at a song I've written, there's not much I can articulate about how I wrote it, other than, now, it exists, and before, it didn't.

A songwriting mentor of mine likened the process of writing a song to using a divining rod on the beach, which for me is the most accurate description I've heard. You're noodling around, and suddenly, you get a strange sensation, and before you know it, you've discovered buried treasure.

That, of course, is when you're in "the zone." What's much more easy to describe is what happens when you're not in the zone. I pretty much sweat profusely, pace back and forth, lie in different awkward positions on my bed, and mumble to myself. Sometimes after hours, sometimes after days, I've figured something out. Sometimes not.

At the end of the day, I guess, each writer has his or her own unique writing process. Which is probably what makes people so curious to learn other peoples' habits.

I read once that Stephen Sondheim involves a lot of napping in his writing process. All I know is I've used that fact to justify a whole lot of midday sleeping.