Have you ever had to make an important decision without sufficient information? This month I use Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” as inspiration for a song from the point of view of a reluctant decision maker. Welcome to my kitchen!
Are you a beginning songwriter, or an experienced songwriter looking to improve? Please consider joining me on Sunday July 13 from 3:00 – 6:00 pm when I will facilitate a songwriting workshop. This takes place at the studio of Amy Conley in Milford, NH – an easy one hour drive north of Boston. Please click here for the details.
Margo and I are looking forward to our annual retreat to the woods of New Hampshire. Every summer we take August off to recharge our batteries at our cabin in Jaffrey. Happily, the cell service is terrible, the nearest Internet is a five mile drive to the laundromat, and the most pressing decision is whether to have a ham and cheese or turkey sandwich for lunch.
This Month’s Music
Two Roads Diverged
© 2014 Tom Smith
See the lyrics in the comments section below.
In May I received an e-mail from my friends Dan and Faith Senie. They had a last minute cancellation at their monthly songwriter circle at Harvest Cafe in Hudson, MA. This is one of those sessions in which several songwriters are invited to share original songs in-the-round, including a new song written by all of the songwriters to a prompt determined by the previous month’s audience. The prompt for this session was “the road less travelled leads to the highway” – and the event was just three days away. I confess that I was not inspired by the prompt. Although the time was short, I enjoyed my previous experience at this event so I accepted the invitation.
Rereading Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken“, I realized that I had misinterpreted its meaning. The memorable closing lines “I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference” led me to admire the poet’s choice to strike out on the less common path. I admired this spirit of individualism and adventure. However a more careful reading describes a poet who who can’t really see a difference in the two paths. He chose one path almost at random, regretting he could not travel both roads. It is only much later in life that he can rationalize his decision. I did some web searching and discovered many who have analyzed this poem and came to a similar conclusion. This new found understanding of “The Road Not Taken” was the jumping off point for my song, “Two Roads Diverged”.
Here is Robert Frost reading his beloved poem.
Unknown to me, my friend Tag Vennard heard about the Harvest Cafe songwriting session and wrote his own musical composition inspired by Robert Frost’s poem. I first met Tag and his wife Karen at one of the many open mikes northwest of Boston. Happily, our musical paths have frequently crossed since then. I always enjoy Tag and Karen’s joyful songs, especially those leaning towards humor or the old folk standards accompanied by guitar. So I was surprised when Tag stepped up to the piano at one open mike and played a beautiful and artful original composition.
Tag is a self-taught guitar and piano player. He tells me that he misspent most of his youth in a rock and roll band but now plays a mellow new age style solo piano. His original music also includes whimsical folk songs, which he performs with his wife Karen. Tag believes that music is therapeutic. Yes please – more healing music of the “Tag type”.
You can play Tag’s composition “The Road Less Travelled” below.
To have a wonderful community of musicians and poets is a great gift. I am so grateful to have friends and the opportunity to share self-made music and spoken word.
“Music is much too important to be left entirely in the hands of professionals.” -Robert Fulghum
(If so inclined, I invite you to leave a comment by scrolling to the end of this page.)
Saturday, July 12, 2014: Dedham, MA
Two full sets at the Saint Susanna’s summer coffeehouse series – from 8:00 – 10:00 pm. Free to all, and refreshments will be served. I am there!
Sunday, July 13, 2014: Milford, NH
Songwriting workshop at Amy Conley Music Studios, from 3:00 – 6:00 PM. I am really looking forward to sharpening my teaching chops, and helping participants to write better songs. Stick around after for optional pizza and song circle. Click for a full description. Space is limited so please contact Amy Conley to reserve a spot.
Friday, July 18, 2014: Groton, MA
I will feature at the Acoustic Cafe Open Mic, joined by Mally Smith. Main Street Cafe, 159 Main Street, Groton, MA. Doors open 6:30. We start at about 8:00. BYO beer or wine when you order a dinner from their great menu. I love this open mic. Great positive energy.
Click to view details for all upcoming shows.
Featured Non-profit: Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
“Founded by a handful of concerned citizens in 1901, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is now one of the country’s most effective statewide land conservation organizations. As a non-profit membership organization, the Forest Society is dedicated to protecting the state’s most important landscapes while promoting the wise use of its renewable natural resources.”
The society is instrumental in protecting the forests near my little New Hampshire cabin, and throughout the rest of the state. Please join me in supporting the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.