Pennies to the Pound

The Story

This is one of those stories about a girl. Someone who had been an acquaintance and started turning into a friend. And maybe more.

I didn't do much to explore that. I made an effort to stay in her company, but I wasn't sure what I felt. And there were apparently-good reasons for holding off-- letting her wrap up a relationship I knew she was wrapping up.

But I didn't really try with her, kept trying to figure out how I felt. Was she really the sort of person I wanted to be with? By the time I had an answer, it was too late; I was already in love with her.

A phone call, an email from her, on the most mundane subject, would just twist me inside out. Right here, we were getting into Alligator (song) territory. I'm not proud of getting obsessive, but I have, from time to time. My only consolation is that recent research shows that love is a form of obsession.

You know those songs about love making one crazy? They're true. And it's not romantic, it's disturbing. It was partly fear of losing my sanity that made me phone the Alligator, making a bad situation worse. But when you're in that situation, you've got to do something to get out of it.

Anyhow, unlike the Alligator scenario, I behaved a little more reservedly. Sent her an email about our friendship, how it felt we were drifting apart. Her reply was honest but kind. She didn't see us as close friends in the first place. . .

The Song

This is one of my high-energy songs, and one day I plan to find out how it sounds on electric guitar, because I think it would sound fantastic.

The lyrics came first. I wrote the first two verses coming home from an open-stage, tired, and a bit drunk. And it's a good thing I wrote 'em down, because by morning, I had no memory of the melody. But the topic was a bit of a problem, because I hate love songs.

I should note that I have never written a love song before. Not The Alligator Song (that's a hate song), not Cut to the Quick (that's about being paralysed by infatuation), not Swim Like an Otter (that's about being at the crossroads in a relationship. These may seem like petty distinctions to you, but they're meaningful to me.

I find love songs tend to be bland. The epitome of lazy songwriting. "I said I loved you, but I lied/this is more than love I feel inside"--dreck. Apparently this is a Michael Bolton song. This may explain why some people hate him so much. Probably the crowning bad lovesong moment for me was when Meat Loaf ripped off the played-to-death "Everything I do" to make the dreadful "I'd lie for you".

Eventually, I came up with a new saying that would govern my songwriting: The world doesn't need another love song. How many million love songs have been written? It's a fair bet that if you write a love song, someone else has said it before. Why would you want to write something derivitive?

Well, no one was very impressed when I told them my brilliant saying. And as time passed, I found this self-imposed restriction was gagging my creativity, stopping me from writing the songs I otherwise would. Finally, I started thinking that whenever I actually did write a love song, the chorus would go "The world don't need another love song./ Nothing I could say is new. The world don't need another love song,/ But baby, I need you".

This points out the essential flaw with my analysis-- people don't write love songs because the world needs more of them. We don't even write them because we want to impress the object of our affection. We write love songs because we need to write them.

Still, I don't write them lightly.

Like Swim Like An Otter before it, it uses a lot of muted strumming. But what's special about this one is the intro chords (DDDGGADDDGGA), that make it stand out even before the melody starts.

Unlike Otter, (more like Overtired,) the verses don't have a fixed length-- yet it feels natural to me, because it matches the rhythm of the song.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Questions, comments or suggestions about this web site? Email me at