What happens when a songwriter is given an assignment that he doesn’t like? – “A Declaration of Independence”.
Tom at the Parish Center for the Arts, Westford, MA. Photo: Dan Tappan.
This Month’s Music:
A Declaration of Independence
© 2009 Tom Smith. All rights reserved.
Ed. Note 4/14/2011: The name of this song has been changed to “Lick My Face” ~ Tom
I am honored to join the Songwriter Sessions this evening at the venerable Vanilla Bean Cafe in Pomfret, CT. Each month, host Lisa Martin invites three singer/songwriters to join her in thisÂ series dedicated to the craft of songwriting. I first met Lisa at an open mike hosted by my friend Carlyn Hutchins. Lisa impressed me with original music played in a folk-rock style. Tonight I am joined by Castle Bay, a celtic duo from Maine, and Jan Luby, the “absolutely tattooless woman” currently living in Rhode Island. Jan has a beautiful voice and a rich background in folk music, both comedic and socially relevant. Castle Bay is an accomplished duo who perform traditional music from Scotland, Ireland and England, and also original music that is influenced by this tradition. I am looking forward to meeting and sharing songs with all of these excellent musicians.
One interesting aspect of the Songwriter Sessions is that the audience chooses a theme for which the following month’s songwriters would write an original song. I have done this several times as part of the weekly open mike at the Amazing Things Arts Center. Host Dan Cloutier occasionally suggests songwriting exercises and then we all share our songs about a month later. I am happy to say that several wonderful songs have come from these exercises. They occupy a strong position in my regular repertoire. I eagerly anticipated the assignment. This would be a great opportunity to write an original song and compare it with some terrific songwriters who use the same theme.
The assignment… how shall I describe it? I suppose the first thing that came to mind was “what were they thinking?” It occupied my spare (and not so spare) thoughts last week. I was determined to not write a song about my dog, Oscar.Â Abandoning all hope that I would “write a song to make the whole world sing“, I wrote “A Declaration of Independence”. A cop out? I’ll let you be the judge. One goes where inspiration (desperation) leads.
What would you have done?
P.S. Taking another look at the lyrics, I just might be able to claim that I co-wrote this song with Pete Seeger, Thomas Jefferson and Bob Dylan. Do you think they will let me keep all of the royalties?
(I invite you to leave a comment. Just scroll down to the end of this page.)
Oct. 8, Thursday 7:00 pm at the Vanilla Bean Cafe, Pomfret, CT.
Oct 10, Saturday 7:30 pm at the Boulder Coffeehouse, Fitchburg, MA
Oct 17, Saturday 7:30 pm. I am supporting Mally Smith at the Federated Underground Coffeehouse, Ashland, MA.
Click to view these and all upcoming shows.
Featured Non-profit: High Spirit Community Farm
My friend and former neighbor William has an intractable seizure disorder. The life-sharing home at High Spirit Community Farm has proven to be exactly what he needs – community life and meaningful work. High Spirit opened their first community home in Great Barrington, MA in 2008. But their aspirations are even greater – to purchase a larger farm property, hire a therapeutic farmer, potters and other workshop leaders, and to have a day program offering work options for many people with disabilities.
Please join me in supporting their good work. Make your tax deductible check to High Spirit Community Farm, and mail it to 21 Bowdoin St., Cambridge, MA Â 02138