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.