24 March 2008
I’ve been on an interesting journey this past week that actually started a few weeks ago. As many of you know, if you read this blog even semi regularly, I’ve had a hard time finding another job since my last one ended in October. The lack of work here has led me to look elsewhere – New York, Chicago, Boston and sometimes that search involves craigslist where I found myself a few weeks ago in the Western Massachusetts section. I always look in the same place for each location and while there isn’t much out there beyond the usual locals this time I spied an ad I couldn’t stop myself from looking at. It was an ad asking for music for an online television show – or would that be a ‘netshow? Hmmm….anyway…I answered, the writer/director/producer, Dave, of Mad Z Productions, checked out my myspace page and liked what he heard. We agreed on terms and I sent him a cd of twelve songs that after reading the first two scripts of “Without You” I thought might be relevant – or shall we say – I sent him most of the love songs I’ve ever recorded.
Fast forward to last week – I get an email (along with a signed contract) that tells me that he loves two of my songs right away and can see using them in the first episodes. WOW! While one song came as no surprise, “Dying Without You” from NUMB – a song I thought would be relevant, the other was a shocker. It was a song I sort of sent for shits and giggles. Now who’s laughing? Me I guess. The other as you can imagine is “Angel” today’s title tune. It’s an old song about another conversation I had in Harvard Square too many years ago. I was walking with my friend Marisa and she was asking me about my recent ex - needless to say the conversation leaned towards existential quandaries and later that evening a song emerged. A couple of years later after playing the song at the end of every damn gig I played I recorded it for Amanda’s Floor. All acoustic, one guitar, one voice and it’s the last song on the CD. My voice crackles, my guitar playing is decent at best and in some ways I think it’s too simplistic a song to have any real meaning. But what do I know? I’m only the writer who had a broken heart when paper and pen came together.
After getting over my shock of Dave’s email my wheels started turning. How could he possibly want to use a song, maybe even as the theme song, that’s only guitar and voice? Something needs to be done and quick. So I picked up my guitar and realized VERY quickly that even though I’d played the song hundreds of times it has been a few years since I did a gig that lasted more that 15 minutes and I hadn’t a clue as to how to play it – never mind how to write other parts for it. I looked through every piece of paper and every journal I could find that might have the chords and did my best to figure it out whilst having several listens to it hoping my fingers would remember. Eventually I found the chords scratched out somewhere between this page and that and got a good grip on the basic idea of how I used to play it. Slowly it has come back to me. Not bad for a song I haven’t even listened to in years.
As an artist you always look forward – forward to the next great song you’re in the process of writing – and rarely do we look back on the songs from another time. Another life. Another love. Another lost moment. When you write so many songs its easy to forget something you wrote years ago because you think every new song is an improvement over the last one. You think – I’m growing – I’m changing – life moves – and with it hopefully comes more understanding of the process and the world that influences the musical path you’re on. It’s easy to forget and to dismiss the “old works of art” that once were the best you’ve ever written.
This past week I started reexamining and rediscovering this old tune. In some ways it takes me back to that time, that walk, that wondering that inspired the song, that love long lost. Geez, did I really feel that way for someone? Someone I’m not even in touch with who doesn’t want me in touch? What was I thinking? Does any of that stuff really happen? Was any of it real? I’m guessing at the time it was, though it may not be now, and at the very least I got a song or two out of us. Though I think I’m the sort of person that always loves someone once I’ve loved them – irrespective of what comes between us - and yes, somewhere inside of me I do still love “Angel” - it doesn’t mean we should be together and nor would I want to be. These days I’m pretty blessed and pretty happy with what I have. But you know what? The song aint half bad! I think I actually like it – something that doesn’t always come easy for me – I rarely like what I’ve written – but time and distance and rediscovery have made me see some light where this tune is concerned. It might not be the best song I’ve ever written – that may be yet to come - but it’s not the worst song, either.
My project this week? Not only learning to like “Angel” even more – but learning to play the bass (thanks for the loaner, Julie) and maybe some piano to fill it out some more. That’s not to say that Dave will like the new version better than the original, or even use it – but I’m grateful for the opportunity and inspiration to have a look back – maybe make something old new again – and maybe give it some new breath – some new energy. Who knows? I might learn to love the song as much as I loved the Angel that inspired it. Or maybe I’ll love the Angel that’s in front of me even more – either way I’m glad for this journey. If you want to check it out you can go to my myspace page….www.myspace.com/laraschuler
Thanks for tuning it….Until next week…CHEERS!!