Bad Song! The Art of Sucking On Purpose… Part I

Here’s a fun exercise. Write a bad song. On purpose.


Dull and Humorless Statement of Learning Goals. Carole King said (somewhere) that she had to write about 200 bad songs before she started writing “keepers.” She wasn’t trying to write bad songs. But her experience shows us that even great songwriters build their craft slowly and painfully, by trial and error.

While that’s always true, you can accelerate the process by doing it on purpose!

Pat Pattison compares songwriting to juggling. A great teacher of mine, movement education master Jaimen MacMillan, teaches juggling in an interesting way. He says that when we’re learning to juggle, what we’re most afraid of is dropping the ball. So he has us practice dropping the ball on purpose. We began to recognize those “tensing up” movements we made prior to dropping the ball; our juggling improves quickly through the work of turning the accidental to the intentional.

So with this exercise, we practice intentionally dropping the “songwriting ball.”

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The Chance Collisions of Seeds

I saw this terrible and sad video on Facebook this morning. Another eery slow disaster showing us again that this beleaguered and much put upon earth is still, at all times, much stronger than we are.
It is my prompt, my triggering impression that inspires this lyric seed, almost immediately rhymed with a rhyme that completes the seed, creates a trajectory for a theme:

I’ve seen a bridge pushed down by ice
I’ve heard of lightning striking twice

I’m reminded of using the same rhyme pair in “Crazy Faith.” This feels different yet related in a way, creating a thread between that old song and this new one waking up. In fact, this is lightning striking twice! Just like the song says:

The two facing mirrors
of song and circumstance
the hall of mirrors
down which my doubles dance

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