If you managed to break the lock on the diary I kept as a 10-year-old, you would find dried flowers, glossy stickers of Aaron Carter, and pages and pages of song lyrics.
While they mainly involved my crush on the neighborhood cutie, occasionally I would write about the scenery of my front yard and hating my cousin. In other words, I thought I was a real poet.
Until this week, I had never understood what really went into writing a published song. I envisioned a guy on the beach with a guitar, strumming into the sunset or a group of people in a conference room, working on little sleep and a lot of coffee to create the next big hit. I found neither of those things at the meeting of the local chapter of the Nashville Songwriters Association International.
Comfortably spread out in the board room of the Oceanside Country Club in Ormond Beach, the group of five writers included those with experience, those with heart, and one who was dragged there by his wife.
“I give her a word, she gives me the third,” Mike Loveless joked about his wife, Karen Loveless, as she shot him a glance over her glasses.
Donna Fant defended Mike Loveless’ presence by saying “Anytime we get off track, he gives us a loud ‘hmm.’” The group nodded in agreement.
Their monthly, two-hour sessions start off by picking a song to work on. Everyone writes down a few of their titles on pieces of paper, and they are put into a basket to be picked at random. It’s true, great song ideas don’t always come at the perfect moment. Sometimes, they’re just picked out of a basket.
This month’s choice was Fant’s original “Random Acts of Summer,” a song she hoped would be written as a man looking back on the memories of the season as a teenager.
Lyrics were thrown around with ideas like “cruising on the highway” and “watching girls hit the waves,” with everyone having a definite opinion on what it felt like to be 16 in July. Every now and then, members would have to use their own experiences in defense of the verse.
“Making plans for that night, one of the best times for me. Beach party, favorite bar, I had an ID,” Mike McDonough read from his notepad.
“Because those who had IDs really stood out,” he reminded the group.
“Oh you mean a fake ID,” said Karen Loveless. “Yeah, I had one of those.”
“I think you should say it’s a fake ID,” Fant suggested.
“No, not really. Because when you’re a young guy, and you’re talking about having an ID, it’s because you’re underage. If you’re old enough you don’t have to say it. If you’re underage, and you had an ID, that’s worth some soul.”
“I never went through that,” Fant said.
“You never had a fake ID?” Karen said with a slight inflection. “Dang girlfriend.”
“Well when I was a teen, I looked like I do now,” Fant said. “Being tall helped me get in everywhere. Except the dog track. I could never get in the dog track. I always had to sit in the car.”
(Disclaimer to the underage grandchildren of all the members: this is not encouragement to drink, just a reminder that your grandparents are cool.)
After a few more minutes working around the idea of fake IDs, Jim Edwards brought out his guitar to help the writers with a beat.
“Jim did you write anything?” Karen asked.
“No,” he grinned.
If I picked up any tips from this group of songwriters, is that both humor and heart are required while working.
Also I got an update on the “Random Acts of Summer.” They scrapped that and changed it to “Summer Party Song.” I’d like to think it includes more references about their fake IDs.