I can state unequivocally that I have never, ever attempted songwriting. I’ve never spun lyrics on my own nor tried to design any sort of prose accompaniment to music. I have tried my hand at laughable, self-conscious poetry but it was so strikingly awful that I immediately threw it in the trash. Still, this is not to say I don’t have ideas bouncing around in my head for songs. The design of a song’s lyrics is that of a mini-story. “Flash” stories are they are called in the modern vernacular. Micro stories. Say the most with the least amount of verbiage. It’s a challenge (as evidenced by many of my posts) and further compounding the difficulty of songwriting is that the prose must follow a rhythm while still conveying a story. Oh, and it helps if some of the words rhyme too.
I was in the store the other day and being the evil, sentimental sap that I am, I frequently feel a tinge of sadness and stabbing bittersweet pain when I browse through Valentines Day greeting cards. So many heart-wrenching and touching sentiments stacked on top of each other like claustrophobic Tokyo bunks. And if the store happens to be piping in some maudlin music, the effect is even more gruesome. I was in a local CVS the other day browsing through the Valentine’s Day cards and being that this wonderful and lovely “holiday” of wallet- and soul-devouring obligation is over a month away, the card displays were orderly and cleanly rowed for ease of display. There were tons to choose from and none of them had that floor-model dog-eared pitiful look that you end up still purchasing because it’s 8:45pm on February 13, and you are absolutely desperate.
I saw a card that was simplicity personified. Few words laid out in a cuttingly efficient manner, conveying mature passion. It was a flash greeting card. I loved it. I hate cards that go on like freakin’ unbearable Dickensian sagas.
This is the card. I’ve combined front and inside in one graphic. This is all the text.
That’s what I’m talking about!
None of this gooey, over the top, syrupy detritus. This is a man’s card. Not a woman’s. Women are not content to express emotions in such a sparse manner. They don’t want to show you what they mean; they don’t want to give you just enough that you can wisely fill in the blanks. They just want to repeat, ad nauseum, what they feel (inside) until you feel as if you’ve been hammered over the head with it. Women are not flash authors, especially when it comes to romantic matters.
My flash story, something I thought would make for a remarkable country ballad, struck me while I stood in the store perusing this lovelorn madness.
The ballad is thus:
Hank and Emma have been dating for 5 years. They are deeply in love and due to various middle-Americanized circumstances, they have not married yet, however it is imminent, or at least the proposal is. They talk about marriage and it’s only a matter of time before Hank drops to his knees and hands Emma his testicles. Love is in the air! One day Hank stops by the local market to buy Emma a Valentine’s Day card and he finds this. “ALWAYS” the card promises assuredly. He is struck by its simplicity. Hank is a good ol’ boy, a man of few words, almost Alpha if he wasn’t such a love-crazed simpering fool. His eyes even tear up just a tad but he swallows the sentimentality and pays for it then heads to his pick-up in the parking lot. He places the bag with the card on the passenger seat and drives away. At a nearby intersection, he sees the light is green so he continues through without slowing. When he gets home he will work on Emma’s Valentine’s “package.” Unseen by Hank is a speeding Camaro driven by a drunk businessman headed south on the intersecting street. The Camaro flies through the red light. Hank never sees it coming. It happens so quickly that for a flash moment he only sees a red blur as the drunken businessman plows into Hank’s pick-up. The awesome force catapults Hank sideways through the driver window and he is killed instantly. Later, Emma accompanies Hank’s distraught parents to retrieve belongings from the totaled truck. Emma finds the Valentine’ Day card which had been intended for her. It is buried in a mangled pile of plastic and shattered glass. A mystical and forlorn gift from beyond the grave.
Have a tear on me!