As some of you know, I’ve done a bit of song co-writing with some folks I’ve met via the Songwriters Association of Washington (SAW). And those efforts have been good, to be sure. But I still haven’t had the “Wow, that was an absolutely amazing, life-changing song we just wrote” experience.

So when a friend of mine (a fellow performer who does a fair amount of musical theater in our area) approached me to help him write a song honoring his father … I wasn’t all the gung-ho. But he was persistent, and I agreed to meet and begin the process based on his initial draft of a refrain.

His name is George, by the way. George and his wife, Mary, invited me over for dinner and songwriting. Yes, they bribed me with a fine, home-cooked meal. Then they put me to work. But I turned the tables on George. I made our first meeting into a brainstorming session. I asked him question after question after question. I asked him what he wanted the song to look like and what kind of story he wanted to tell. We jotted down his thoughts, memories, feelings, etc. about his father for a couple of hours. At the end, I asked him to tackle a short first verse (knowing full well that it could change later). That was his “homework.” And it was to be the first step toward telling the story he wants to relate about his father. I could have given it a go, of course, but it’s HIS father. You know?

Within an hour after our brain dump, he had completed verse one! Seriously!! Isn’t that great? Of course, there is plenty more to do. But what a super way to begin working together.

And what did I get from all this? Well … a lot. I’ve heard folks say that the best way to learn something is to teach it. And while I wasn’t really teaching as much as facilitating, I’d say that old saying pretty much sums up my “take” from our session. Now I have even more confidence in my own process and abilities – in the knowledge and tools I possess – to help me in my songwriting efforts. So …

Thank you, George! And thank you, Mary, too!! The dinner really WAS very good.

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