Knowing when to write for your voice

Knowing when to write for your voice

By Carla Muller

It’s easy to fall into the trap of current trends, but the truth is, if you’re over fifty, you have no business knowing what cheugy means. You don’t need to because you probably are. It’s giving, emoji merch with skinny jeans, both of which I wear, but in my defense, my emoji wear is the original ‘Have a nice day’ smiley face from the seventies. And the skinny jeans are stretchy.

 It's all about comfort, really. Are you comfortable with the song you’ve written? Is it yours to sing? Can you pull it off? We all think we’re cool, but are we? Sometimes, you just have to admit that you’ve written something that is outside of your particular wheelhouse. I have a song that I’ve been trying to sing for two years now. Every time, I try to psych myself up for it, I run out of steam halfway through. There are just too many words. There’s no room to breathe. It’s too high. I’m Canadian; there isn’t a Live Oak tree within a thousand miles, (see what I did there?)

That Tree is a song I wrote for my sister, who was going through some stuff at the time. It’s about having faith and digging deep to get to the top. It’s also about falling out of a tree. And the lyrics?

“I know that branch

Seems out of reach

It’s just too high

And the pain’s too deep”

Irony hurts, sometimes.

Those lyrics would all be fine and good if I could actually get through the song. Why, oh why, did I have to write a song that I can’t sing? Maybe I’m a masochist, or perhaps I’m not the powerhouse singer I am on the inside. But that’s okay. The truth is, this song has both my highest and my lowest note in it, and I’d need to be one hell of a singer to belt out that chorus with any semblance of conviction. I’d also need to possess a measurable amount of game to pull it off. Game I don’t have, if I’m honest. I’m more like a warm cup of cocoa. And this song is like a hot toddy. It requires more sass than I have to give.

 The truth is, if you have to talk yourself into it, it probably isn’t a good idea.

 “I’m being edgy,” you tell yourself; “avant-garde, even.”

No. Just, no.

Sometimes, you fall out of the tree and as a songwriter, you have to have enough sense to know when to let the professionals climb it. You’ve got to remember to write for your voice if you intend to be the one singing it.

Even now, I still have to admit that while it may seem like a good idea at the time, it’s probably something my sixteen-year-old would call ‘cringe’.