Writing 101: 3 Songs

I’m behind because I’m hand-writing, and my handwriting is awful.

I’ll be hard pressed to name the three most important songs in my life. Is the Lark Ascending on the list? I vote for it every year in the Hall of Fame and it has fond connotations and connections with my writing, but it’s not really ‘important’. Is it my Desert Island Discs? The Lark would make that list, but the list changes. Here and now, it would be different to there and then.

What about the pieces that made there and then into here and now. Those pieces that shaped the last 23 years. They’ve been musical years, to be fair. Six choirs at one time, three dance styles, a folk band despite my ineptness with every instrument. I’ve sung Queen and Messiah, the Armed Man and the Lion King, and Les Miserables Twice. (They all died at the end, both times.)
Music has been central to my life. I am, finally, a third generation Cotswold morris dancer, and the sister to a far more talented brother. His exam certificates hang over his piano, and I have a choristers’ award somewhere. Give me my due, I can sing.

The first piece, then, is a song. I’ll sing you a song my mum sang to me, may it keep you good company. Anything possible, written by Fred Small, recorded by Roy Bailey, and then sung by my mum as a lullaby when I was a baby. It had important lessons like ‘you can dream all the days never reaching the end of everything possible for you’, and ‘the only measure of your words and your deeds will be the love you leave behind when you’re done’.
When I have kids, they’ll hear it too.

Next up, I’m fishing for a choral piece among many. It has to be, because that was my life for so long. Not a big work, but one that made me cry…

I sang it first with the Yorkshire Youth Choir. It was written for the children of one of the conflicts  I grew up hearing about, that emerged in the ruins of the Soviet Union. It doesn’t matter which, because to specify would be to deny the rest. They were children like me, lives cut short by hatred

The Yorkshire Youth Choir was more than just that. It was the first time I really passed something that meant something. The 11+ was a breeze, but auditioning for a choir, having to trust that I could sing, was terrifying.

I met my friends there and had a tight knit group who weren’t forced together. They could have been with anyone, but they chose me. I fell in love with one of them. Just a teenage crush, so I suppose it will end one day, except they never do.

And for my last piece, what? Something… fannish. Into The West, the Oscar-winning song from the closing titles of The Return of the King. It became my solo piece for many years, and more than that. With Lord of the Rings I learned to own my geek-dom. I learned to write in Tengwar (Elvish script) and swear at people in Quenya (Elvish language), sought out other fans and wrote my first fanfiction.

LOTR shaped my style, personality and confidence. It pointed me towards the joy of being myself, because it was so big and there were so many other fans. I made friends and gained some respect. It was quickly lost – I was 13, after all – but I had it.

“Never apologise for being nerdy, because unnerdy people never apologise for being assholes” – John Barrowman. Now if he could just sing all these songs, I will be very happy.

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