Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Carry Small Bills

I wasn't stuck on my song so much as I was stuck on my songwriting...

For ten weeks I copied and recopied "Pay the Buskers" from one notebook to another hoping for the magic line that would wrap it all together and make way for what I thought was a prize-winning coda: "So remember talk to strangers, carry small bills, and baby, be a busker if you will." I couldn't let go of it.

I couldn't let go--of this and many other choice stanzas--until I realized that this song was not just about the lesson I learned as a child about paying the buskers, but also about the lessons of impermanence. Once I committed to that, I was able to ditch my beloved coda and finish the song. Touche.

Pay the Buskers
In an airport parking annex
The escalators run all night
In the corridor I hold her hand, in the distance I see a man
His saxophone shine is bright

My mother dropped coins in their cases
Her contribution never in vain
She said, "Music adds life to these places."
Take 5 echoes in my 5-year old brain

She said, "Appreciate impermanent collections.
"See them; make sure your eyes have met.
"As you go through life don’t lose your affection.
"Pay the buskers any chance you get."

She said, “Daughter, pay the buskers, pay the buskers.”

She explained to me just how their songs would lull her
Away from her maternal demands
She said, “It may not last, but it’s our local color.”
I said, “I’m trying Mom, but I don’t understand.”

She said, “Don’t you know that every crayon is here, girl?
“And don’t you know that every crayon will melt?
“When we go home, remember they were singing,
“And as you fall asleep, remember how it felt.”


Even though you cannot hold their treasures
Pay them. It’s how you know they’re real
A dollar for a melody in measures
It’s how your beating heart can make a deal

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