So, my incredibly talented friend Connor Garvey invited me to take part in a weekly songwriting group, and even though I am scared shitless to write songs at this rate, I accepted! While I've participated in similar projects (like my songwriting book club and The Game), this is slightly different because a) there is no prompt, and b) finishing a song in 7 days is wayyyyyy different than finishing a song in 30 days. To keep us accountable, we're not allowed to skip deadlines all willy nilly (though there there are af few get out of jail free passes). Now you know the context, so I'll get on with the content.
This week's song is called "A Way with Words." It's primarily a commentary on our relationship to technology. Awhile back I read this artcle about how mainstream songs are now being written at a 2nd grade reading level. The piece points to an intentional "dumbing down" brought on by corporations, as well as the "intellectually dimming" culture of our test-focused education system, but it doesn't really hit on technology's role in what sometimes feels like an assault on language, genuine human connection, and access to the truth.I wanted to examine that relationship in this song, but I also wanted it to stand alone as as a modern breakup song. So in the verses, the "we" can either mean all of us or both of us.
The chorus is a little bit more abstract. In the breakup analogy, it could fly as the final altercation between the couple. But to be perfectly honest, it's just me yelling at myself. If you've been following my personal journey, you know this year has been emotionally traumatic. I wake every day and try to do my best "rise from the ashes" impression, but I'm so mentally fatigued that the ashes are starting to feel like a bed I just want to lie down in. I get so irrationally impatient with my circumstantial depression, I can't help but scold myself for clinging to it. And when I can't possibly bear another word of this self-imposed lecture, what do I do? I grab my phone and stream the next episode of something-or-other in hopes it will drown out the sound of my own abuse. Welcome to the fuzzy fucked up track meet that is my brain, where having "a way with words" can be helpful or harmful depending on the day.
We used to have a way with words
Now we don’t say too much
We used to unwrap like verbs
Now we just tap to touch
We used to have things to do
Now we got screens illuminating
We used to attach like glue
Now the connection’s isolating
What’s the hold up, girl?
You got something to say?
You got a way with words
And they had their way with me
We used to just rise and shine
Now we just duck and cover
We used to breathe words like wine
Now we delete each other
We used to have a crush on truth
Now we’re ablush with fabrication
We used to rely on proof
Now we bat eyes at lie’s flirtation
image credit: Darci Fontenot