The Rue Patisserie

Jul 16, 2020
A week ago Monday, when my online songwriting group met, I played a song I had written in an hour the day before. When you get back to town and your neighbors have been taking care of your cats, and the cats turn out to have been, as they would say in my hometown, "wicked incontinent," you feel bad. But you also wind up with a song that writes itself. And as I told my friends after I played it, it helped to write something really dumb, because it took the pressure off. There's nothing worse than trying to write a good song to get the Muse to clam up. So a dumb song about cat poop is just the ticket to signal to your peers, "hey man, I'm not trying too hard here." And that in turn provides a clean slate for the next one.

And while I wasn't really thinking all this through per se, I did manage to write something much better the next week. And then, flushed with triumph, I got ahead of myself. This song group, unlike some others, doesn't make regular use of prompts – suggestions to write to a certain theme, or a certain title, or include a certain phrase. But it came out that one of us had written their song this week in response to another member's personal challenge to write about a particular member of the U.S. Senate, but only if they could do it in the style of the Eagles.

So somehow as we were winding down afterwards, the idea of murder ballads came up, followed shortly thereafter by a discussion about baked goods and song challenges, not necessarily in that order. The upshot of which is, I now find myself committed to writing a song by next Monday with the title "Murder In The Rue Patisserie." Not only that, but I won't be the only one doing so, which means any value in the sheer inanity of the title alone won't be enough to get me over. The song may actually have to succeed on its own merits. I'll let you know next week how I fared.

Meanwhile, summer registration is now closed for The Fingerstyle Five. Over seventy new people signed up and are now diving into this month's material. I really enjoyed the live streams I did on Youtube to explain the membership, and I noticed there were a lot of questions along the way about right-hand technique and how to improve it. So for next week's Youtube lesson, I'm going to go live again. This time, I'll present some Travis picking fundamentals, particularly as they apply to playing and improvising on the blues. If you've got a specific question for me about learning alternating-thumb picking or how to use it, drop me a line and let me know. I'll incorporate as many of the responses as I can into next week's lesson.

More soon,