Terry Sarten

Singer Songwriter

Going through a stage

I have been fortunate as a musician living in New Zealand to be able to step onto a stage in front of an audience a number of times over the past few weeks. Having been able to come out of a Covd-19 lockdown that has gained us an advantage over the virus it was extra sweet to perform my songs again.
There was some serious rehearsal prior to the gigs. During lockdown there was no way to get together with my sidekick on double bass John Scudder to run through material and add new numbers to our setlist.
I did have good intentions of completing some new songs during this enforced break but it never really happened despite having a long list of tunes wating on lyrics. I guess I could just keep playing them as instrumentals but that feels like maybe I should charge half price at the door to hear a melody without lyrics as being only half a song?
I did have an excuse for the creative freeze. Like many musicians, I have a day job that requires attention. I can sing quietly to myself some of the time at work but do have to remind myself that others in my department might find this unhelpful. The corridors in a hospital have wonderful acoustics with a whole bandwidth of echo and reverb that makes even the smallest of low hums sound glorious.
One day, for reasons unknown, I was singing the catchy bits of the Beatles song Penny Lane. I was admonished by an aggrieved colleague. Not for actually singing. They did acknowledge the songs Inherent Humm-ability but muttered as they went past that now they will have that tune stuck in their head for the rest of the day as if it was my fault. Hmm.
I am sure most people have experienced having a song enter the mind unbidden, then refuse to leave. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. For some reason, I know a lot of the words to various Neil Diamond songs and sometimes they arrive unannounced in my head even though part of me objects to this melodic invasion. I’m not even sure why I dislike them. They are three minutes of pop at its most amiable and yet they are annoying. Maybe the cause lies back in time when I was a kid learning guitar. I decided to figure out how to play a Neil Diamond song and discovered that all his songs consist of the same chords moved about in slightly different sequences. From my youthful, naïve perspective this made them seem like a factory production. It was only later that I found out that most of the great songwriters tend to use the same four chords and that this was in fact half the trick.
The simplest songs are often the ones that really catch us out. Some of my favourites also fall well short of the standard three minutes. They arrive, say what they need to say, tell their story and then leave while you are still pondering what happened. Perhaps that is the other trick to great song-writing – knowing when you have finished and stop.

To give you the best possible experience, this site uses cookies and by continuing you will accept that we can save them on your device. Our cookies don’t collect personal information. For more information, please read our privacy policy. You will find the link on the site „Imprint“.