18 March 2008

The Culture of writing music.

While I was in Atlanta visiting a good friend, I met two of her terrific and fun colleagues and we got into a discussion about a film called Once.

Essentially, the film is about a street musician living in Ireland who meets a Polish immigrant who also happens to be a talented pianist and composer herself. And of course complications ensue.

I loved the film. My friend's colleague hated it.

We laughed at our different understandings of the film. She thought that it was silly and far fetched and the actors were dressed poorly and they weren't interesting. At all.

I could see why someone would not like this film because it isn't glamorous or particularly exciting. Another friend was angry with the film's refusal to have a traditionally happy ending.

I can agree that the ending could be disconcerting for audience members as well.

However, my question for my friend's colleague, was simply this:

"Have you ever written music with someone, or do you play an instrument?"

Her answer: "No."

And for me that said it all. I am in no way saying that you must have written music with someone or have played an instrument to understand or even like this movie. But for some reason, I think that it helps.

There are collaborations that are probably more intimate than writing music with another person, like I don't know, having and/or raising a child, but this connection that people have when they write songs together is something that is hard to translate on to film, and I think that the filmmakers of Once do it brilliantly.

In my early twenties when I spent a lot of time with a few friends of mine in Philadelphia writing and working on music. I loved being there with them, learning the ins and outs of harmonies, lyric writing and collaboration. I would argue that these collaborations are as powerful as romance and they are just as complicated.

As I watched the two characters in the movie explore their musical chemistry, I thought about the two guys with whom I spent so much time writing music and collaborating. And I missed them and that period in my life when a quick trip to Philly would erase the stress of school and all sorts of things.

While I've written some songs in the last couple of years that I really like, more than anything, I'd like to get back together with those guys and do a little bit of collaborating to see if that quirky chemistry is still there.

I think that my palate needs to be cleansed from the confusion of romantic chemistry and heartbreak and all of that crap so that I can shake the cobwebs from out of my head and write a good pop song--the kind I used to write.


Two weeks ago, one of the two guys called me. It was really wonderful to catch up with him and hear what how he was doing and what he was up to. We talked about the third guy and wondered if we'd talk to him at some point.

And the reason that spurred my former collaborator to look me up and call me?

He had seen Once.


Dexter Colt said...

I would imagine that the cobwebs in your head are an unwritten song...not something that needs to be cleaned up and discarded.

But, I've never written a song...

kerrie said...

I haven't seen this yet, but want to. It's available on my On Demand, so maybe this weekend...

cuff said...

Great post. I suppose that's why so many band breakups (see The Beatles) are so acrimonious: it's really a relationship gone sour, one that's given you so many emotional highs that when it gets low, it gets low...

Casey said...

The worst part of a badn is the breakup. When you know that all collaberative songs are gone forever.

Claven said...

Ah, I just love when the Roger Waters of the world insist on continuing to perform "my music" despite that it came from a band.

Pascal Ebert said...

Spot on.

I'd qualify my comment by making it clear that any and all songs that I've ever collaborated on are crap to all but two or three people.

The connection between me and my fellow songwriter couldn't be described as anything less than a spiritual euphoria - like sex without the wet spots and the lingering doubts.

I'll be back to translate this to a foreign tongue for Casey's benefit later on!

m.a. said...

DC, I know, but I can't with these particular cobwebs.

Kerrie, You should. I think that you would like it.

Cuff, Thanks. I know. Band break ups hurt. Bad.

Casey, I know. Breakups suck.

Claven, I know. I would never be like Roger Waters.

Pascal Ebert! You're back! And that is the perfect analogy. yay.

suicide_blond said...

awww..once.. loved it...
love you...

Brandi. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ma said...


Of course you loved it. You understand this stuff. Plus, you know the Rev. So. You win!


Megarita said...

Fabulous! I was surprised at how quickly the music question quelled that debate. I think you're right. I still haven't seen the movie, though.

Benny K said...

I just saw this movie about a week ago. I loved it too.