This week’s challenge from Michael Perlmutter from Instinct Entertainment was to do a co-write with another participant.  The subject of the song was to be about “relationships” and the process was intended to allow us to be able to share our own experience “with a co-writer may help to craft the story and share the feeling in a more profound way.”

Collaboration presents many challenges unto itself; not the least of which is finding a time  and place to do it.  Online connections are good but face to face is probably better for me, and unfortunately that wasn’t going to happen this week because of other commitments.  However, I did manage to contact two Edmonton-based writers, BoneDog Dixon and Shauna Specht, both of whom I met through the SAC Edmonton Regional Writers Group.

My approach going into the challenge was to lend what I feel are my strengths in lyric writing to the collaboration.  Given the time constraints I also felt it better to draw on some material that was already somewhat developed rather than trying to create from scratch.

I write lyrics in tandem with music, using it as a kind of scaffolding for the process.  The scaffolding can then be pulled back to reveal a lyric.  That was the case with both of these songs.

I offered to send BoneDog a lyric with the title “That Love Ain’t True”, which is about the kind of relationships that really aren’t honest or healthy.   I felt that it fit with his blues-influenced approach to songwriting.  Originally it was written with a series of short verses followed by a refrain.  BoneDog suggested I expand the verses and he added some additional elements to the lyric.  His musical approach is really interesting, and very different from what I would have imagined for the song.  I like it, and think that if we were to continue working on it that I’d want to do an overhaul of the verses to give it a stronger coherence internally and possibly inject some dark humour into it.

I offered Shauna a lyric with the title “Save it for the Brokenhearted”, which is about a long term relationship that has come to an end;  however, it’s not a sad ending but rather two lovers who have reconciled with themselves about it and realize it’s time to move on.   Shauna was drawn to the theme but decided to take it in quite a different direction than the original lyric.  She retained some of the thematic elements and a few lines but it is also a completely different song after the co-write.  I’m impressed with what she’s done with it in such a short time span and now have a greater sense of how an idea in a co-write can develop in unexpected directions.  If we had more time to work on it together I’d probably press for a different chorus as part of the co-writing process.  Nonetheless, my compliments to her for this song, which is now called “The Book of You and Me

Overall, it was a great experience this week and it’s encouraged me to start thinking more seriously about the possibilities of doing more co-write experiments.