Friday, June 26, 2009

Weddings, Graduations, and Songs

June is the month of weddings and graduations. These mileposts in life's journey often cause the songwriters' antennae to tingle with inspiration.

Many of the students I've taught over the years are graduating this week. Since 2002, when I released the "High School My School" CD, I've noticed an increase in the number of plays and downloads of my graduation song, "Shine On". It has found its way onto several playlists. This song is unusual in that it has a mixed meter chorus, alternating 4/4 and 6/4 measures. In addition, the verses are antiphonal, with different sets of voices singing overlapping independent lines on the left and right sides of the stereo space.

In always trying to use perfect rhyme while avoiding the trite and overused pairs, the bridge of "Shine On" has a rhyme that folks have noted as one of the most memorable:

"The light of one light it seems never shall exceed

The light of one sun,

But each star joins hands with a neighbor to make a galaxy"

Amidst all the graduations, today is also the 13th anniversary of my first date with my wife Kay. Appropriately, that date revolved around an appearance I was making as a Connecticut State Troubadour, singing a song I was commissioned to write for a historical dedication. An Italian dinner followed, and a wedding three years later.

Over the last decade, I have written a large collection of songs inspired by love, which is perhaps the most powerful of all songwriting inspirations. The universality of love as a source of inspiration makes it extremely difficult to write a love song that isn't the same as the million others springing from the similar feelings and experiences of a million other people. There are more songs about love than about anything else, all sincere, but not always particularly memorable.

The song I wrote for Kay on our wedding day was based on a metaphor and semantic field of life being a meal served in a restaurant, where one sits at a table for two, with one chair empty, until the right person comes to join you.

Called "Life's Café (Table for Two)" it is one of my more complex melodic/harmonic songs, though rendered simply with just voice/guitar. It will appear on the CD "Let Me Count the Ways", which is currently being recorded.


©2009 Bill Pere. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fathers' Day and Songwriting

Father's Day 2009.

Looking over my catalog of 423 songs it jumps out that a significant number of them are about Father-child relationships. People have often commented on this over the years in performances.

When I first became a father in 1984, I wrote "The Singer and His Son". Two years later, my daughter arrived, and as my children grew and taught me new things every day, I wrote "What Our Children Teach". As my kids went through high school, and during my years of volunteering at a Group Home for girls, I heard many stories from teens about parenting gone bad. These stories of kids seeking love and acceptance from their fathers which never came, became some of the most intense and poignant songs I've written: "Teach Me How to Fly", "Most Likely to Succeed", "Another Touch of Gray", "My Name is Mary".

The process of a father letting his grown-up child go off into the world to become the adult that he/she will be is captured in "Six Candles in the Chandlery" and "The Dream".

I lost my father to Alzheimer's when I was just 16, and it took several decades to finally write the tribute to his lost creativity in "Alizarin Crimson", and to try to capture what it must have been like in his failing mind, in "Flickers".

I've have always tried to be the best songwriter I could possibly be, but more so, I've always tried to be the best father I can possibly be.


©2009 Bill Pere. All Rights Reserved.