Tantrums of a Tuneful Toddler


It’s not what you think.

This is not a pitch for a blog about nursery rhymes or child prodigies.

It’s a tantrum, toddler style: I want to blog about songwriting.

At 50 years old, in adult years, I am long past the svelte figure of my teens, with no chance of rivaling Taylor Swift physically or vocally. Ah, but have I written a few lyrics and guitar licks that could rival hers, if not by placement on the billboard charts, then in quality recognized by the established local talent in my hometown? And according to my wonderfully biased producer of two of my independently recorded CDs? Yes, and yes.

Toddling Toward An Avocation

At 50 years old, in AARP years (they find you by mail when you’re still on the cusp of looking 49 in the rearview mirror), I am aging, but in songwriting years I am only three or four.

See, a toddler is usually associated with the “terrible twos,” but the dictionary defines one as “a young child,” or “one who toddles.” I fit all categories.

Admittedly, I wrote a handful of songs in college and shortly thereafter, but back then, my relationship with the guitar and my own voice was self-conscious, lacking confidence or identity. Until about four years ago, that is: when I toddled forth with a song about the disappointment in a friend who could not love me as I longed to be loved.

I played it for my best friend from high school, whom I see maybe once or twice a year. She is a connoisseur of film and songwriters and bands ranging from Janis Ian to the Kinks, and Cat Stevens to Jethro Tull. She said, “That’s good.” I believed her.

Friends Make the Songwriter

What came next was an open mic where strangers took me aside to say they liked the song, and the organizer befriended me.

Then more musician friends, an experience with a songwriter who helped me with a few chords on a song and then wanted to put his name on it, and the lovely, insistent support of the man who would become my producer, who said, “We need to record and copyright you.”

But like many a would-be rock star (OK: folk legend might be more apt) I am immersed in a full-time job that pays the mortgage. I am obsessed with a Weight Watchers journey in which I am stuck on a weight-loss plateau that is longer than the time I’ve spent dropping 29 pounds (you see what I mean about the missing sexy stage presence, but that’s another story). I am involved in  time-consuming graduate studies. It keeps me from learning pentatonic scales. It keeps me from performing more. And it could very well keep me from this blog, but I am going to have my way. I have to have my way. I am still toddling and if I can’t fall and get back up, or saunter unexpectedly, I’ll never make it.

What Can A Toddler Possibly Have to Say about Songwriting?

What then, you ask, can I impart as a baby lyricist and composer kicking and screaming her way into the world of published music and promoted productions?

I will explore the road poet Robert Frost called “less traveled,” the road of a 50-something finding her musical voice, and of other artists developing late.

I will explore the amazing paths to glory that the Internet has paved, from writers who collaborate across geographical boundaries to uploading original, independently recorded music onto platforms provided by innovators like the makers of CDBaby.

I will explore my own foibles and successes, yearnings and regrets.

I will explore whatever you, the reader ask me to, in the quest to learn why songwriting calls to some of us in a voice only we can hear.

Let me out of the crib, where the nursery tunes are making me crazy and the lullabies are putting me to sleep. Let me into the recording studio, and the blogging arena, where I can sing a song for you, write a melody, birth a song you can keep and play over and over, a song that speaks your language, with words that cut your heart.

4 thoughts on “Tantrums of a Tuneful Toddler

  1. HM. I felt “toddler” was apt since I am in the beginning stages of this songwriting journey and have much to learn. But it does play down my assets (experience, ability to write catchy choruses and honest, evocative lyrics) and minimize me (mini-me is really not where I want to go, do I?) OK: the toddler metaphor is out. I’ll have to find another way to claim my passion.

  2. rdkalm

    I loved the Jennings news anchors martini metaphor. It did so many things, comparing each of them and connecting all of them to a time and place. It also came and went. The extended metaphor can work, but you don’t want to, again, drown in it.

    No that’s not it. Although that is true.

    The toddler metaphor bothers me. I may be wrong, but isn’t toddler just another adverb, another qualifier, more hesitation?

    Sing.

  3. This extended metaphor is not a trick I’d use repeatedly but as you say it does work here. I was thinking of “tuneful toddler” as my new handle but now I’m not sure. I need more focus! Be the argument, Bob said…

    By the way I got the subhead idea from your posts! It helps for longer posts. Thanks! 😉

  4. I get it.

    I read this post when you first put it up and took it as a declaration of a new subject to write about. I completely forgot about your explanation of the word toddler.

    You’re the Tuneful Toddler, which means you’re rocking back and forth in these thoughts. You’re figuring them out in the same way a baby is figuring out the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other thing. You told us you were a toddler in this music game and I completely forgot to read your blogs through that lens.

    That being said, I still think the reader needs to know what to expect with every single post.

    I didn’t see anything wrong with it in this post because you started off tell us that you’re toddling in music. This works perfectly for this post, but not for every post.

    Ironically, in this post you tell the reader what to look for by putting the main thoughts in bold. Maybe that will help for future writings. Let me know what thought or idea you are mulling over. That way, I can weigh your arguments as well.

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