How To / Originals

How to Write a Song a Day with bonus new songs “Amber” + “Harvests Moon”

Last week was my second time trying a “5 songs in 5 days” writing challenge. I stumbled on it back when I was preparing for my first time playing out, and absolutely love Sarah Spencer’s blog, community and book of song prompts.

The first time I attempted this feat, I ended up writing 4 songs, 2 of which I spent considerable amount of time re-working after the fact. This time, I only wrote 2 — and only put 1 to music. (Full disclosure: I’d like to share an excuse for why I only got to 2, but that’s silly. Part of sharing is to keep myself honest, share the journey and ditch perfection.)

I’ve been writing nearly ever day since Sept with only 7 missed days (and I’d venture to guess the actual count is less since I sometimes write after midnight, like now). Mornings tend to be free-writes and evenings tend to be processing and recapping my day. The gist of writing a song a day is similar: just write.

Give yourself permission to write something stupid, banal, off the cuff, spontaneous, detailed, meticulous, dopy, serious, whatever-the-heck-you-feel. Part of this is for the muscle and the practice. Part of this is so you have material to whittle at later. What keeps coming back to you in the shower? Or waiting in line at the grocery store?

Another quick parallel: now, when I travel, I give myself permission to take the tourist photos. I know that to get the intimate shots I love, I need to get the other stuff out of my system. Daily writing can be an equivalent of getting the pretty, food and sunset porn photos out of your system so you can catch the out of the ordinary.

Day 3 Song “Harvests Moon”

Writing Prompt: Harvest Moon as the title. Kicker: start in a key most difficult for you.

she harvests moon beams for the seller of suns
harpooning narwhals carrying daymares, bucking sons
of giants carting fireballs across galaxies, across skies
while she drowns quietly, hair spiraling, eyes open wide

Can you see her in your dreams?
Calling quietly, singing longingly?
Can you hear her in the wind?
Calling softly, singing sadly?

Mythical creatures, mystical features
never crease, never cease to teach her
The history of where we were born
The history of the sea swallowed unicorn

I wonder who even listens to lyrics
Is the art of life one of thought or empirics?
Empires were built on less than this idea
From  before all legends, mages and Pangea

Nevertheless, I will sing to she who
Harvests moon beams for the balu
Harpooning narwhals narry to marry,
tusking all who fuss with me
Joisting for attention

Day 5 Song “Amber”

Writing Prompt: “She is hard and hollow like a fallen tree” — use that as a starting point.
Guitar: Capo 2 | Dm, F, hammer on C (middle), E (middle off) / Am, Key of Gm

hard and hollow
like a fallen tree
you and me,
we're hard to follow
like a shooting star
we have far to fall
hard and sallow
turned to amber beads
if truth is what you seek
it's hard to swallow
and it has yet to set me free
[am] vulnerability is an [e] ability to ache,
an invitation to pain,
a mystery of mastery,
a frequency of agency,
a healthy rage,
[dm] a wealthy mage
for all the ages
hard and hollow
like a fallen tree
you and me, we're
hard to follow,
like a shooting star
we have far to fall.
hard and sallow,
turned to amber beads,
if truth is what you seek
you best not seek it from me.
it's hard to swallow
and it won't set you free

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