Friday, December 02, 2005

Songs in the Key of Barney Fife

A friend of mine recently interviewed another friend for a homework assignment for her Religion in Music class. I playfully asked her why she chose this particular friend to interview instead of me, and she said, "Because she's a musician." This amused me. I have recently discovered that no one I have met since moving to Orlando knows I'm a musician. How has music drifted so far from my every day life? In highschool (I went to a small Christian school), I would do anything I could to sneak out of class and get a chance to play the baby grand in the adjacent church sanctuary. In fact, if we were ever anywhere near a piano, I'd be playing it. At all the old highschool parties, they'd send me to the keys to play "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" while everyone sang along. We were sheltered Jesus freaks and had only just then discovered the Beatles.

In college, I expanded my repertoire to include the accordion, the harmonica, and the hammered dulcimer. I bought a guitar but never learned more than five chords. My left hand just doesn't like the system. Every once in a while I'd drag the dulcimer out to St. George St. and play for the St. Augustine tourists. For my first two years at Flagler, I volunteered in a local church's youth group worship band, and I'd jump from song to song to each of the different instruments I played, often multiple instruments in one song. The youth group bought a used electric piano just for me to play. In fact, Harmony -- the piano in my living room -- is the same piano I played at that church. I went back and bought her from them a year after I'd moved to Orlando, some three years after the last time I'd played her. She's a Yamaha CP-70, a classic. One of the first touring pianos ever made. Billy Joel once played one. And Peter Gabriel. And recently I saw the Edge playing one in a U2 video.

Something probably no one knows about me is that before I sit down to write a script, I almost always write a song about the story. Especially short scripts. I cannot write a short script without first getting a sense of the story in song form. I wrote a song for "Naked," a song for "Love is Deaf," and a song for "Melissa With A Heart Around It." I also wrote several songs for INDIAN RIVER ORANGES before writing the script. Often, these songs are discarded as soon as the script is finished, such as the songs for "Naked" and "Love is Deaf." In the case of the song for "Melissa," an instrumental version is actually going to be in the film. The lyrics are from the perspective of a character (Bobby, a boy with a crush on Jamie) who was cut out of the script after the first draft, so it wouldn't make much sense now. But I really love the song, and I think the arrangement will sound really cool. We're going to record it as a sort of surf blues instrumental.

It's funny, because I've probably written more songs in the past three years (many of which I'm not ashamed of) than I have in any other period of my life, yet my involvement in music is more private than it has ever been. It is something people have only recently discovered about me as I've discussed creating an original soundtrack for "Melissa." I wonder if that is important.

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