Few of my songs have resonated so quickly and consistently with family, friends and fans as has “Blue Lights.”
From the first tryout at a weekly jam, to playing it at other venues with band or solo, in front of strangers and folks from my past; even through a heavy rewrite, folks have related to this nostalgic tune about dating and making out in parked cars.
Though there is no monetary reason in the world to go into a studio these days, I’ve long said I’m not in this to make money. And this song, and its fans, cried out for a fully produced track.
So I went to Reveal Studios in Marietta where my long-time producer and friend David Leonard does his magic. So talented: he plays piano, guitar, bass, mandolin, and uke and has an ear for what could be and what shouldn’t be (which can be as important).
And David is the reason for the rewrite of this song after all the acclaim. First of all, I love David and respect him explicitly. Secondly, I’m an artist who desires feedback and having been a journalist, working for the daily beast with a voracious appetite, I also can take a punch.
Which is what it is called for when you producer implies in no uncertain terms that you need to rewrite your chorus. It should go without saying, the chorus is to a songwriter what a first-born is to a parent.
Not only the chorus, but also the third verse!
Here is one of his hints that a re-working was in order: Writing about a particular line in the chorus: “(it’s) a simile wrapped in a metaphor wrapped in an enigma. I get it, but it makes my head hurt.”
I’m still laugh every time I read that, and of course I have kidded David unmercifully about it.
But the primary reason I accept and believe firmly in rewriting is that it always makes it better. And this song that everyone liked so much was made better through the process of tryouts and tinkering and playing out and rewriting.
Blue Lights is for all my friends from College Park and North Clayton. Our idyllic childhoods were too soon splintered by war, protests, drugs and leaders who lied to us.
Yet when we look back now, we are looking mostly for the good times, and Blue Lights represents that.
A rewrite lesson:
The Chorus needed rewriting because the song never really named the place. If you didn’t have my live introduction, something was clearly missing. And you could get twisted up with what all is sparkling and where.
Blue lights on the runway
Sparkle like the stars in the sky
In your eyes I can see
All I need to know tonight
Blue lights on the runway
Looked like the stars had fallen to earth
Just for us, on those nights
At a place we called Blue Lights
And the third verse David said could be more eloquent and don’t just simply say time moved on (duh); say something about it.
The years flew by and we all
went our separate ways
far from home just like everyone
you know did those days
And now, we’re older
a little wiser to the ways of the world
But that, doesn’t make it
any better than the way it was
If you care to read the song blog on Blue Lights click here