The Birth Of A Song
In the middle of the night, I think anything is possible. I wake up from sleep to see the silver light coming down and in my half-dreaming state, I begin to systematically conquer the universe. Usually I start with plans to move to Europe and I enroll all the girls in French school. Then I mastermind Jeff's brewery: how hard we're going to work and how it's all going to be worth it. After that, I go through the list of all the incredible things I'm going to accomplish before noon: clean closets, reorganize the pantry, put together an amazing dinner for later, weed the garden, clean the floors.
Then I write the world's greatest song. I always think it's great, anyway, at around 3:00 in the morning, melody drifting through my head and gripping me like we're going to walk down the road to perfection together - me and the song - best friends already.
By 7:00am, as I sift through my list of things to get through before I can write my brilliant song, I become steadily more and more depressed.
I know how this goes.
I send everyone to school. I come home and clean; I take care of all the things to do with running a household and then it's time to pick up the kids. Then I teach music, then I serve dinner, then it's the bedtime routine and then…i'm too tired to write the song I was so sure about. Now it's just a scribble, a puny lifeless thing that looks unable to hold its own even in the best of times.
So back to bed I go and in my head the music starts again. I try to push it out because I will fixate on the chord structure and the minor 4th that pervades a good third of my melodies (do I absolutely need it?). Then I decide that, yes, I do need it, and I move onto the last two lines of the chorus which, even with my eyes closed at midnight, sound really stupid. I'll save those for later when I can write a list of viable phrases.
And my mind drifts to the things I didn't get done today…it's a very long list. I sigh with defeat.
I remind myself that this isn't the 18th century, and I'm not living in a squatters camp in the Philippines for heaven's sake, and I'm really definitely about as able to accomplish all I need to do as the next person. Yes, I can be a good mother and wife and daughter and friend and whatever else is going to happen tomorrow. Yes I will tell those kids how much I love them and bring them their forgotten homework and teach 5 music lessons to various adorable children who are not my own (however God has put them in my life to love and teach them). Yes, I will call the county and find out about how to get a facility bonded for beer. First thing.
Next thing I know, it's 3:00 am again and I am lying half-awake, watching the silver moonlight drift slowly across the floor. Fragments of a dream I've been having linger long enough to inspire the crazy middle of the night confidence. I am luxurious. I fly through the 19th century sky, I have a long pendant that tugs gently at my neck from a man I've never seen before but who is somehow familiar and smells of leather and tobacco smoke, and who grins conspiratorially across a chess board to me. Words spread out beneath us like water and they glow iridescent. The willow above, green and honest, widens her branches and begins to sing: ancient tomes of a forgotten place and age. There's something I can't grasp or understand and my chest aches with the loss of it. I grab the pen and, in the darkness, scrawl out messy words onto a scrap of paper. It's four lines: they're illegible. But in the morning I will read them over and they will become the nexus of the best song I've ever written.
I am sure of it.