A Song In A Day

The other week, I had the privilege of working with an amazing group of teenage women. The challenge was to make and record a song in a day. The group had been working on issues to of gender-stereotyping, self-image, the representation of women in the media, esteem and looking at the strength of these rather fantastic individuals, and together as a group.

Now, I have self-identified as an often failing – but trying, feminist for a number of years now and whether it’s simply that or that I’m additionally invested now through the addition of my wonderful daughter to our family, I felt a real burden of responsibility on this one. I barely felt the right to be part of it, as a white thirty-something man, coming into a girls’ group to make a song about their issues.

That said, I hope we made a good thing. A song in a day from a standing start. Here’s the results.

(Full lyrics below – why not hit play and read on?!)

A bit about “The Process”

The girls had been working on a bunch of resources before my arrival, discussing issues that impacted on them individually and as women in a wider sense. For the first two hours I asked the young women to explain all the brainstorming sheets they’d generated, go through the words, the meanings behind them and the issues. We did some further brainstorming, fleshed out the ideas a bit then moved onto making some actual music.

We talked about how when making art, we should all feel able to express our thoughts and pitch ideas. All ideas are valid and useful, and we agreed to try all ideas with gusto and without prejudice. I asked if anyone could pitch me a tiny bit of melody – anything they might find themselves whistling whilst walking down a street or sing to themselves. Understandably, this is quite a leap for many people. You’re really putting yourself out there when you pitch a bit of art – what if no-one likes it? So we tried again. I asked for a bit of rhythm – anything beaten out on the desk in front of us would be fine. Nothing… until one girl said “I can’t do it”. I paused, then tapped the beat of her syllables back to the group…
” – – – – – ”
… and that became the rhythm for the first lyric line of the first verse…
“I won’t be changed”

The next few hours were a flurry of activity, flitting between developing the lyrics, working on the melody (should it go up, go down, do up and then down, or down and then up?), the chords, the dynamics and the structure of the song. At 3-30 I ran the song for the 1st time, singing back the girls’ work to them. They applauded, and I asked if they liked it. A resounding yes. Then came my favourite part of the day, being able to say “well, be proud because every decision in the making of this song is yours; from the rhythm you created at the very start, every word, the key and style of the song, the melodies… you’ve made all those choices… and they’re really good.”

We spent the last hour of the day warming up vocally and getting this one take of the song recorded. I hope the people who’ve made this are as proud of it as I am privileged to have worked them.

Here’s the rest of the lyrics to mull over as you listen.

The Lyrics
How To Be Me

V1
I won’t be changed, won’t be rearranged
I won’t be re-touched, or have my face betrayed
I won’t be made-up, won’t let you edit me
This isn’t dress-up, it’s my identity
And I will grow.

V2
I won’t be fake, in my heart I feel
I see beauty when I see me
Don’t be so mean, just let me be me
You may not like me, but others will
And that’s okay.

Chorus
And I will trust that I will bloom
I’ll do my best to be true I know I must.
Don’t have to prove myself to you.

V3
So don’t be left out, sad, angry
Isolated or lonely.
You cannot tease me, make me feel small.
Your lies are wasted, they mean nothing at all,
Because I have grown

Bridge
Follow me, bully me, make me change my body
Chase me through the back-streets
You post it, blog it, I flag it block it
I won’t apologise for being me

Chorus
For I will trust that I will bloom
I’ll do my best to be true I know I must.
Don’t have to prove myself to you.

V4
Let’s be kind ’cause I have faith
The good in people I see in your face
We can be proud of our dignity,
Strength and honesty and loyalty
To our friends.

Bridge
Follow me, bully me, make me change my body
Chase me through the back-streets
You post it, blog it, I flag it block it
I won’t apologise for being me

Chorus
For I will trust that I will bloom
I’ll do my best to be true I know I must.
Don’t have to prove myself to you.
And I will trust that I will bloom
I’ll do my best to be true I know I must.
Don’t have to prove myself to you, myself to you, myself to you, myself to you.

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