But then, on the other hand, there’s only so much courage I can muster. A girl needs a comfort blanket. Mr Jones can raise his eyebrows as much as he likes.
It takes bravery to write lyrics that mean something. That initial start (for me anyway) takes something often quite visceral… personal… emotional… and puts it out there for all to see and hear.
I am so fortunate to have the musicians around me that just take this and go with it. By the time it gets to ears further out, it has been mediated to some degree. Some might call this compromise I suppose. But I still know which bits are me. I keep my fingers crossed that no one spots me hiding in these songs.
It took bravery for me to start reading these words as poetry to an audience. It has taken all that mustered personal determination to then start singing them, first in the songwriting circle, and then in the slightly wider world of the friendly audience.
With these three guys: Andy Jenkins, Ian Sutherland and Dave Sutherland (no relation) I am protected a little as I contemplate tiptoeing out into a wider world. There has been talk of recording an album of these songs we write together. That I can cope with – bring it on! There is also talk, naturally among this lot, of performing them to real people, not just those invited special people, but people who may have walked in off the street and might not be at all kind to a fat middle aged woman who forgets the words.
But I am determined to challenge myself in this way. I sing through metaphorical if not physical gritted teeth. The heart beats faster. I can never remember how these songs start, and there is always barely contained panic… And then I find the opening chords lead me to it and it is fine.
The writing together is a challenge. But that gets the blood pumping too. I might have half a song of lyrics, or even a whole song, but as the music develops, sometimes they don’t scan well… I tend to write first drafts without much rhyme, and sometimes ignore metre too, wanting to get meaning clear. The challenge then is, while three musicians are trying out different chord progressions and time signatures and all that other musical science, I have to change it quickly, before that point where they all stop and look at me. I’m terrified they will stop and look at me, and I’ve got nothing! Adrenalin is my friend.
Adrenalin is not my friend, because after these evening sessions, I stand little chance of getting to sleep before three, or staying asleep if I do!
So, if you don’t mind, I shall take with me whatever comfort blanket I can find. Whether that is a sketchbook, an old bra, a girl’s summer dress… Or an actual blanket. I shall cling onto the corner fiercely, while pushing myself in uncomfortable directions.
I am conscious very time I step up to the mic that everything could go tits up (thank god I brought the bra!)
But with greater risk comes greater reward…