Nasty Girl Meets Patchouli Babe
by Donna Z. Falcone
Thise excited me, transforming me quickly to that place often called "the zone," and in no time flat I'd written a song and nailed down the melody in the shower (because the zone is not geo-specific). Later, when I opened my mouth to try it again and work it through, just like a breeze, it was gone. Melody, gone. Beat, gone. All that remained were words I'd managed to get onto a page. Aiy Carumba! How did that happen?
As luck would have it, this was a topic of conversation at a songwriter’s circle I'd attended a few months earlier. The musicians there were saying it can be really hard to remember a song when it’s still brand new. Thanks to them, my first reaction to losing my song was neither sadness nor panic, but, calm acceptance. Take my word for it. Calm acceptance was new for me. Not that I am incapable of accepting difficult things, but the path to get there is rarely calm.
I knew if the tune was right it would come back to me later. Maybe it was off finding itself. Maybe it needed some marinating. Maybe it was on a beach somewhere, soaking in the sun. Who knows? All I knew for sure was it was gone and forcing it back was not going to work. I also knew if I tried a rewrite I might fundamentally change it, and I liked it the way it was (as far as I could remember). Waiting was the best option.
In the middle of that same night, I woke up with music rolling through my head, all groggy and thinking hey, that’s a nice tune, and then hey, that’s my tune. I considered going downstairs to at least record it on my phone I was tired and 3… 2… 1…. zzzzzzzzzz
The next morning, when I tried to sing it, nothing. Gone again. How could this happen? My brain kicked into high gear and it was like a crowd gathered in my mind to see what would happen next. Rubberneckers. A nasty-girl voice rose above the crowd.
“You should have gotten up, Stupid. You should have taken the time to record it. Now it’s gone forever. You had a chance and you blew it. You are your own worst enemy.”
The crowd sighed – ohhh it was very sad. I blew it. Pathetic.
Cue a newcomer to my mind. She didn't come around much, but I’d know her anywhere in her gauzy purple dress, with flowers poking through long curly locks and reeking of patchouli).
She said “Hey, don’t worry. If it came back once it can come back again. If it doesn’t, well, maybe it’s not ready. You will cross that bridge when you come to it. You'll know what to do. You are your own best friend.”
I decided to listen to Patchouli Babe this time. Nasty Girl was too much work.
Later that day, while vacuuming the house, a song rolled through my head, over and over again – a catchy little tune that I was barely aware of. It seemed faint and unfamiliar at first, but gradually strengthened and came back around with a big smile on its face as if to say “I’m ba-a-ack!”
The vacuum cleaner was abandoned mid floor in exchange for the page of lyrics and my guitar, full of hope that this was the real deal. Sure enough, there it was, easy-peasy, I knew what to do. Capo 1 - chords A, E, and D. I jotted them down over the right spots in the lyrics. The tune was country style. I turned on my iPhone to record the melody for a baseline going forward. I knew the lyrics needed tweaking, but they were a good beginning. Every time I ran through it a word didn’t fit and needed changing, or a phrase seemed out of place and needed moving. I was now a sculptor of song. All of the clay was there and I needed to shape the thing.
For the rest of the day the song was bee bopping along inside, almost powering me along. The floor got mopped. Towels folded. Dinner made. Every now and then I’d stop and run the song again, making a new recording with each pass, and I couldn’t tell if I was working the song or if it was the other way around.
When my husband came in from work I sang it for him and, right on time, no sooner did I sing the last note than Nasty Girl reared her head and out of my mouth came “Oh, it’s probably a chick song, huh? You probably don’t like it.”
Then, just as quickly, another thought came out of my mouth “Well I’m a chick! And I like it.”
Is that patchouli I smell?
He grinned and said he really liked it a lot - it was really good.
“Well this line is terrible” said Nasty Girl. “A river of tears! Too much drama. I hate it. That’s what’s wrong with this song.”
My confidence withered just that fast. I put down my guitar and walked away from the whole thing, but Patchouli Babe followed and I’m pretty sure she was whispering in my ear saying things like “Honey, what are you doing? Don’t you read your own lyrics?” and “That song is about honoring your spark! It's about Wildfire! Why are you going to listen to Nasty Girl?”
She had a point, but I still hated it. That line. River of tears. No one will like that line … too melodramatic I thought.
Patchouli Babe gave me the look and I couldn’t argue with her anymore.
“What the Hell?” I thought. “This is my song and it was a river of tears and the wildfire can't be put out now. I won’t let that happen. Not after all this!”
Patchouli Babe smiled. She was having a very good day.
Next thing I knew I was seated in my makeshift art studio, making art with ink, and fire. Not painting fire- paiting with fire, burning ink on ceramic tile. It seemed the perfect medium for the day. First the embers formed, then the wildfire, strand by strand like a flaming head of hair, all the while holding one piece of the song in my head: Wear that wildfire like a crown!
This one is going on the wall to remind me: This is my fire and it wants to burn. Nasty Girl? She’s just a ripple in the wind left over from a long ago storm. I’m so done with her.
The lyrics are on my poetry blog. The title: Wildfire!