Songwriting

DADGAD Is Just Too Wonderful

So what is DADGAD … it’s a guitar tuning that I’ve been working with almost to the exclusion of anything else for about a year. I’m trying to get better at the craft of songwriting, and my mantra is something to do with – the more songs you write, the more likely it is that you’ll eventually write a good one.

I found that with this tuning, I can come up with melodies that I would never have thought of with the regular EADGBE tuning.

So what about lyrics ? I have always thought that this my weak point, but a year ago I went to a songwriting workshop led by Boo Hewerdine, and facilitated by a great musician and community activist – George Moorey. With the teaching we had that day, I was inspired, and I’ve written about 8 songs over the last year. That may not sound lie much, but for me it’s amazing.

Most of my songs are story based, drawn from books, movies and people I’ve met. For example, one was about a fishing disaster in the early 20th century in Cornwall. I researched it from newspaper accounts, and used direct quotes to help with the song. I got really stuck a few months ago, actually right at the beginning of lockdown, and had no inspiration, but I had a starting line – ‘It’s been 39 days, since I saw the sun.’ (A reference to Noah’s Ark). Throughout January and February, it seemd like it had been raining every day, so that gave me the first line.

But that was all I had. I happened to have just started a thriller by Stephen Booth (which I never finished, by the way), and I just opened it at random and looked for interesting phrases. Somehow, I managed to put some of the phrases together into the song. I’m not entirely sure what it’s about, but it all seemed to work.

39 days

It’s been 39 days, since I saw the sun
grey clouds, the winds been blowin
the dogs are getting restless, they feel it in the air
You can’t see it yet, but you know it’s coming

Praying that the waters don’t get too high
fearing the worst as we see them rise
Looking outside and the sky is black
wondering if the sun will ever come back

I’m lying in the kitchen, face down on the floor
gravity’s got me, it’s pulling me down
I hear a voice laughing, smell the cigarette smoke
I can’t see it yet, but I know it’s coming

Praying that the waters don’t get too high

She didn’t look up when he walked in the room
the old ‘duck and roll’ when he tried to kiss her
she said she was tired just couldn’t go on
He can’t see it yet, but he knows it’s coming

Praying that the waters don’t get too high

It’s crouching at the door, this crown of thorns.
We can’t see it yet, but we know it’s coming

Praying that the waters don’t get too high …

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