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Here's my report back on the song-a-month challenge, and what I have learned in this experimental year. My determination to create a song every month alerted me to the soundtrack that is constantly playing in my mind, and that's a fairly profound realization.

I already knew this: Whenever the TV is on, I require access to the TV remote (specifically the precious MUTE button) because if I hear a commercial jingle it will play and replay in my mind for at least the rest of the day, and it drives me nuts. However, things getting stuck in my mind can result in something completely different and potentially wonderful. I got a fairly cool song out of a partial jingle that lodged itself in my brain (that was September's song). A podcast of Rachel Maddow subconsciously provoked me to start humming "Scratch My Back" (April's entry). A friend's comment about January's song prompted the song for February. On and on it goes.

So here's a confession. I've been putting these songs on my ipod as they were created. The songs randomly plopped onto the device in alphabetical order, and thus the last one I would hear when I listened to the "album" of 2014 songs was February's "The Wind," a song I really like, but I didn't want my ultimate 2014 "album" to end with that song. So I was trying to come up with an idea that would be later in the alphabet but tie it all together. I remembered that "U" comes after "T" and immediately came up with the word, "Unsung."

With that one word, the chorus popped into my mind right away, no problem. The verses took a little more work, but I knew where I wanted to go with them before I started so it wasn't too difficult.

Then there's the bridge. This song did not have a bridge at all, but I had all kinds of bits and pieces. One nasty little bit I kept coming back to couldn't possibly be part of this song. The melody and tone were so completely different, and the words were not useable so I figured I'd never actually use it for anything. And then, as I was trying to put "Unsung" together as a real song, this previously unworkable section inserted itself quite organically. I love when that happens! I completely rewrote the lyrics ("it keeps on knocking on the door ...") to fit this song, and to my happy surprise, I think it works fairly well.

The ironic thing about the bridge is that these words needed serious reworking. They did not "fall out of the sky."


janice leber 2014

There is a melody that lingers
Upon the wind it seems to play
Pokes at my brain with pointy fingers, moves in to stay
It comes upon me like a fever
The lyrics always have their say
This thing was floating on the ether, and now it's in my way.

This song won't let me be
It must come out of me
My song will not be unsung
And everywhere I go
one thing I always know:
My song will not be unsung.

Where it comes from, there's no knowing
This song that only I can hear
And where it thinks it should be going, that is never clear
So it is merely passing through me
Perhaps it grabbed me on a dare
What it ends up doing to me, I don't know and I don't care.

I cannot let it be
It must come out of me
My song will not be unsung
And though the day is long
it leaves me with a song
and my song will not be unsung.

It keeps on knocking on the door,
'specially when it knows there's nobody in there
It keeps on kicking at the gate
and insisting that it's gotta come through
Those words fall out of the sky
and they're telling me to give 'em a tune
That's what I do. That's what I do.
That's what I do.

This song comes shining through
Not a whole lot that I can do
My song will not be unsung
And when my time is through
you and I are gonna know it's true:
my song will not be unsung
no, my song will not be unsung.

making the video
As usual, it's been an incredibly tedious process. It always amazes me how much time this endeavor of video animation eats up. But it was highly educational. I got a Cyber Monday deal on a professional version of my animation software and suddenly had a whole new world to explore. I got some inexpensive applications with a few very slick video effects, and then it was all playing. Hours and hours and hours and hours of playing.

I really tried to tone down the tricky-slicky video effects, truly I did. I wasn't too successful, but I tried.

The original idea was to combine live action with animation. ("That will be easy," she said with the naivete of ignorance.) Just putting the live action portion together was a wild adventure because of all the new effects I had to play with. I've always believed that too many special effects is a sure sign of an amateur at work, and yet here we are. I'm prepared to let the chips fall where they may with this one.

All these little video clips ate up my computer's memory like I used to eat Cheetos. Halfway through a file export I'd run out of application memory -- and I have a pretty powerful machine here. There's always a speed bump.

The video "shoots," such as they were, were done in my living room in front of the window where, just a short month earlier, beautiful vines shaded the view. The leaves were disappearing with winter's cold even as I shot the video. You may detect the yellow leaves of a once-lustrous wisteria plant through the window in some shots. By the time I did the last shoot, there was not one leaf left on that thing.

The main video effect that I employed, aside from terrible lighting, was a motion effect that created multicolored smoke when it detected motion in front of the camera. It was fun figuring out how to make it look like smoke was coming out of my mouth all the time. That was done in two chunks, and the second one made us late to my friend Eugene's house because I thought, "Gee, while my hair is clean, I think I'll do one more take."

So yeah, we didn't get lost on our way over to your house for lunch, Eugene. I was shooting a music video. Now you know.

... and now what?
So the song-a-month challenge of 2014 is over and I don't know now what. Obviously I will continue to write songs and damn, I have the cool animation software so I will probably keep on doing that too. I used to have a fairly respectable reputation for political satire but there are other people doing that these days who have bigger soapboxes and better resources than mine. (There's also the inevitable fact that a lot of them are considerably better at it than I am.)

So I'll be doing something, and I'll be doing it here at chopped liver productions dot com. I heard somewhere that my song will not be unsung.