Peaks and Valleys on the Co-Writing Rollercoaster

According to the gurus of songwriting, the way to learn the craft, build a network, and further one’s career is co-writing songs.  Since I am a lyricist only, I have no choice but to co-write.  The more co-writers, the better, say the experts.  As of today, I have had several co-writers:  Gayle Weiston-Serdan, Uncle Bob, Amy Bowen, Kanan Road, Vince Mendoza/Ryan Anderson, David Regier, James Sims, Dale Crockett, and Denise Barker.

The peaks of the co-writing experience are the first flush of excitement when the co-writer accepts the project and the joyful moment of hearing the song performed either live or in a recording.  Shivers ran up my spine when I first played the video of Jim Sims singing “I’ll Be Fine.”  I’ll never forget Torie singing “The Twelve-Bar Blues” at Wine Styles in Claremont.  And it felt like a dream come true to have my friends in the audience to hear Kanan Road perform “Southern Californian” at the Merc.  I should keep my eye on the loving gift these people have given me, and not let the valleys poison my joy.

However, though I am working on patience, I am frustrated with some aspects of the co-writing process.  If a songwriter agrees to write a tune for my lyric, I expect him/her to do it in a reasonable time period.  That expectation has turned out to be misguided in several cases.  I have not specified a time frame for my projects so far, and that has been my mistake.

Some notably productive and prompt writers are Uncle Bob, Amy, Kanan Road, and Denise Barker.  I thank them for following through on their promises.  I also thank the dilatory writers for the lessons in patience they have given me.  I am earning a D+/ C- on those lessons, but I’m working toward a C.  As someone said on Song Ramp, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a prince in co-writing.  Pucker up, Pam!

“I’ll Be Fine” (Almost) Wins

I entered three songs in the Song Challenge of the Nashville Songwriters Festival I will be attending June 4-6.  “A Place at the Table” performed by the St. Thomas of Canterbury choir was submitted in the Christian category, “I’ll Be Fine” was in the Other category, and “Southern Californian” (the new name of “Down Home in Southern California” ) was in the country category.  “I’ll Be Fine” made it into the finals but was not selected for a prize.  The other songs were not chosen.

When I read the results, I was disappointed to see that all the prizes were not given.  In most categories, a first prize winner was named, but no suitable candidate was found for the second and third prizes.  The organizer explained that for the contest to have credibility in the industry, they could only reward truly commercial, “pitchable” songs.  I say, “Poop!”