Fitting the pieces together
Sometimes, there is nothing that comes close to the high you get from really being productive, really getting a lot done. I have spoken with a number of musical groups lately, in writing features for my freelance online magazine(s), and sometimes I can tell where the article should go – what the main story is for the group or the performer – before I sit down to write – sometimes. Other times, like this past week, it takes a while to put the picture together.
I was asked to cover a band that was planning on heading up north from their home in Tucson to play at a First Friday show in Phoenix. I was very excited – I was not familiar with the group, but when I started listening to them, I certainly liked what I heard. Not to mention, one of the band members was a fellow writer, and I am a huge fan of his work – his writing style resembles my own. Not knowing much about the group heading in, I simply do what I always do for a new group – listen to the music, read through the lyrics, and look for the story they want to tell with their music, which often in turn helps direct the story I tell about them.
But I was having trouble with this one. A very eclectic mix of songs, tone, and style awaited me on first listen. Some albums in the past have told one story, with twists and turns, but with a certain kind of message (I love listening to songs critically, trying to ask what they are trying to say with this song). This new album did not. Anyway, I reached out to the group, and set up a few phone chats with the members. I talked with one, and as usual, while he spoke, I furiously scribbled notes that more resemble ancient hieroglyphs or secret code than English words. My wife and family never let me hear the end of it. (Well, you try recording a normal-speed conversation verbatim – if you actually practice enough to pull it off, show me what your notes look like. You will understand.)
I had notes now from a source, but I hadn't formed enough of a story. I set up another chat with a different band member, and I heard a couple juicy tidbits I wanted to put into the story – but that story still wasn't complete.
It wasn't until I spoke with my last person – the third and last band member I reached out to – that everything clicked. The skies opened, a light shone onto the paper, and it all fit together so perfectly in my mind… it already was forming. He had said they were in the studio working on a second album. And yes, the first was very eclectic, and yes, they planned on having a consistent message for this new album. And what’s more, they were adding a new member to their group!
I was starting to put it together. A few had mentioned this new group member, and wanted it off the record, so far. I promised them I wouldn’t spill the beans. But this past weekend, they shared on their social media pages the great news of their new addition, so I confirmed with them it was okay, and wrote it right in there. I wrote about new beginnings for the group – both a new direction and new voice for their sound, as well as a new name added onto their roster.
My pen flew across the page. I scribbled until my hand ached, then I kept on going. I didn't stop until I turned it in to my editors. I stood up, victorious. Sometimes you need a few different perspectives, and everything will all fit together.