Last month was the breather that I needed. I am so proud of the song that I wrote. And I am proud of how I trusted myself and my instincts to just let the song be what it wants to be and let myself be who I really am. I finally found some joy and ease in singing and playing again and this meant so much more to me than any nice feedback that I got for my song and my performance.
This month the other participants of my singing class got to choose my song (and vice versa). It’s really interesting to see which song each of them suggested for me, so I want to share all five songs that were on the table:
“The River” by Bruce Springsteen
“Healing Hands” by Conrad Sewell
“Mr. Sandman” by The Chordettes
“Calm After the Storm” by The Common Linnets
“Makin’ Whoopee” by Ella Fitzgerald
The sheer variety of songs and genres still leaves me a bit baffled and wondering if either a) my voice is very versatile or b) it’s hard to pindown who I actually am as a singer and I can’t seem to get my point of view across clearly enough…
But I guess that’s a question for another time.
Calm After the Storm
Anyway, the song that the group finally decided on is “Calm After the Storm” by the Common Linnets and I couldn’t be happier. As some of you know, I am a huge fan of Eurovision Song Contest and this song in particular stuck with me. And here’s why (if you are not interested in a sappy personal story, scroll down to the next headline 😉 ):
It was May 10th 2014 and it was the first wedding anniversary of hubby and I. We were in a super luxurious private spa hotel, just had one of the best meals of our lives with a dessert to die for and it was one of those moments, where life was just perfect. After dinner we got back to our room and, as every year, started watching the ESC finale. Now I know what you’re thinking “Why would you watch TV on a super lux vacation with your hubby on your anniversary?”. Well. First of all, we watch it every year. It’s fun to see and hear such a variety of songs and artists and the thrill of “who will win” and “was it the one I was hoping for” is exciting. And in this particular year, 2014, it was especially thrilling because Austria sent Conchita Wurst with “Rise like a Phoenix” and there was actually a pretty good chance of winning.
So we were watching the finale and one of the last performances (I just checked and it was 24 from 26) The Common Linnets with “Calm after the Storm” came on. And I fell in love. The song was so great and the two of them on stage, both with their guitars and facing each other, how can you not fall in love. But now I was torn. I really wanted Conchita to win, but I also wanted them to win. I guess most of you know how it ended – Conchita took first place (this still makes me happy) but The Common Linnets got into second place, which in this case was kinda like a win. I guess in any other year they probably would’ve won but that’s just how the game goes. And this is why the song stayed with me, even though it was not officially a winning song.
Making the song my own…
So, I am really happy with the song I got and had lots of ideas what to do with it from the start. I knew that this for me was not just about singing, but that my ukulele had to be part of it as well. And a little while ago a friend of mine suggested, that it might be interesting for me to work with backing tracks for my original songs. Not sure why that thought came back up, but it did and made total sense to use this song as a “trial run” for that.
Playing ukulele with a backing track is a special challenge for me, as I tend to follow my very own tempo, which means speeding up and slowing down in a way that only makes sense to me and goes with my own flow ;). So this is actually very good and useful practice for me.
While playing around with the song and trying different things I my voice wanted to try and spice up the chorus a little bit. In my first vocal coaching for the song it turned out, that I “accidentally” stumbled upon the harmony. Which is funny, because until then I always had trouble finding harmony and then actually sing it. So I guess that’s a total win for me.
…and other challenges
But there’s two more parts to the song, that are challenging for me – not so much in the singing department but in the ukulele and rhythm department 😉 First up, there’s a short guitar solo in the song. So of course, I want to make it a ukulele solo. Ugh, even writing it down scares me. I’m not very virtuosic on my instrument. I’ve only done short solos in two songs before and it didn’t always go so well on stage. And even figuring out how to play the solo is very difficult for me. So I tried listening to the orginal guitar solo. Find out the rhythmic of it and tried to reproduce it on the ukulele. I even ventured up the neck a bit 😉 And I actually like what I came up with.
And second, there’s a short part in the song without music and just a tapping beat. I am very challenged when it comes to clapping different beats than 1 2 3 4 and sing and/or play at the same time. But this song needs me to tap 1 2+3 on my ukulele while singing. So yeah, I tried that too.
Just breathe (and practice)
All in all it was more of a ukulele, rhythm and getting it all together, than a singing challenge, but I really like how all these aspects are coming together in that song. I feel like this is something that can help make a better performer out of me and will help with my original songs as well.
The song and working out all the aspects of it made me realize again, how much fun it is to do my own thing and work on music in my own style. This is what I want to do. And even though it took a lot of practice in different areas, and even though it didn’t turn out “perfect” I am happy with it. And I can breathe again.
If you read all the way through – thanks. If you only came for the video, here it is:
Sidenote: This was the first time, that we actually got to perform live in front of our singing class and did not have to submit a video and meet remote via zoom. However, I wanted to be fully in the moment when I performed it live that’s why I decided against filming during singing class and pre-taped this video at home. It was a good practice run and I hope you enjoy it just as much 🙂
If you missed the first parts of this series, you can find them here: