Sunday, October 18, 2015

American Pie

My son is a song writer.  Song writers are sometimes reluctant to discuss the meaning of their lyrics.  Remember Don McLean's early refusal to explain American Pie?  (The song, not the movie.)

Once I asked my son what one of his songs was about and he said it was about a really good sandwich he had eaten.  I think he was just messing with the Ol' Man.  We have had many more serious discussions about his music and he has revealed that all the lyrics throughout one of his songs are not necessarily about the same subject.  It is very difficult to match the rhythm of the lyrics with the beat of the music and make it all rhyme and be easy to sing and make some kind of sense and so on and so on.  Each song could be about a lot of different things.

Believe it or not, this helped me with something that had been bothering me since before my son was born, the lyrics in most of the songs of my favorite group, Steely Dan.  They don't make much sense, but they are always kind of fun.  "Is there gas in the car?  Yes, there's gas in the car."  That's one of my favorites.

Once, when I mentioned that Steely Dan was my favorite band, a guy said, "They need to work on their lyrics."  Many years later, I was talking to a friend who, among many other things, was a singer, musician and song writer.  He said, "Steely Dan songs are not about the lyrics, they're about the music."  Another friend said, "What's wrong with their lyrics?"

This highlights the reality that communication is a challenge.  Something we say can and will be heard and interpreted in different ways by different people.  Frequently our words will be understood in a way we never could have imagined.  Are you married?

I've been told that I am a pretty good writer.  I guess I can thank the good Sisters of St. Joseph for that.  They insisted on correct spelling and grammar and taught us how to diagram a sentence.  But, as you know, there is more to it than that.

I frequently have things understood in concepts, but when I try to explain my thoughts to someone, the words just don't seem to convey my thoughts accurately.

Some people seem to be very good, very quick at finding just the right words to get an idea across verbally.  The brain to mouth connection is very good.  My daughter is like that.  With me, it seems to work better when I write something.  I need to write, then read, then erase and write something better.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate word processors.  They are a vast improvement over the pencils and erasers of my youth, not to mention the chalkboards, on which I had to write, "I will not shoot spitballs at Johnny" 100 times.

In this message, as in many other things I write, I didn't know exactly where I was going or how I would get there when I started.  The act of writing seems to help to clarify that concept that is buzzing around in the cabeza.

So, there you have it.  Blogging seems like something I am meant to do.  Several of my friends agree.  This is my first offering and I hope you hang around for more.

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