Songwriting and Family

I write songs.  It's what I do and have always done since I was a kid. This entry is about how I fell into it.

If you mixed the poetic prowess of my mom, the soul coming out of one small square of my Grandmothers harmonica and the musicality of my uncle, you'd get me.

My Uncle Rudy lived with us for many years.  He had a piano in the dining room and could play anything.  Candle in the Wind by Elton John was a favorite song of his.  I remember him singing as we sat together on the piano bench.  During the words "nude" and "sexual" in the lyrics, he'd make a funny horn sound by pursing his lips together so he didn't scar me.  I knew he was shielding me but I didn't care because the sound he was able to produce was hysterical.  And at 5 years old, I was deeply moved by his talent.

My Mom. I remember finding her notebooks when I was 8.  Notebooks filled with raw, but somehow organized, emotion. I'd sneak them into my room and read.  I always felt like I shouldn't be reading them.  I was in love with how her experiences came alive through words.  There was a fluidity and a rhythm embedded in the paragraphs like ocean waves.   How could these pages evoke such raw emotion?  I saw the book as a tool.  A tool to document gnawing thoughts into a digestible form.  I saw words like paint on a canvas, it was my first appreciation of art.  I began notebooks of my own.

My Grandmother played the keyboard and the harmonica.  The woman had soul and she could tickle yours by looking you in the eye and a flick of her harmonica holding wrist.  She didn't teach me how to play, she'd just jam her heart out after a few Narraganset's during dessert. My Grandmother always left her keyboard out for me since I was 4 or so.  I'd study the keys and label them in numerical order because I knew that if I retained each pattern I made, I could add more of them until it became long enough and sounded like a real song.

I started putting words to these patterns after I was inspired by my Mom's poems and never stopped. I just changed from a piano to a guitar.  If you read my blogs, you'll see that I still use numerical patterns to describe where I am on my instrument, I suppose that never went away.