The Fall of Superman

17 May

Heartbreak. It’s such a great songwriting topic. I seem to return to it a lot in my own writing, even though life has actually been pretty free of the usual heartbreak lately.

Sad songs heal. I’m sure of that.

We listen to sad songs for the same reason we attend funerals. Shared suffering has the power to transmute itself into beauty… and to bring us closer together on an almost spiritual level. (Pain is the touchstone of all spiritual progress, or so they say.)

For example, I don’t think the great blues men wrote their songs to make people sad. I think they wrote about heartbreak because that’s where the healing needs to happen.

Songs have the power to heal the soul. (They also have the power to maim the soul. I’m looking at you, Justin Bieber.)

Plus, heartbreak — when it comes from love — is complex. That makes it fun or at least interesting countryside to travel as a writer. You can drive over a mountain of hope, and fly down the other side at ninety miles per hour, brake pads on fire, into a river of sorrow — splash!

Fun stuff!

Plus, when you come out on the other side of that river, life often looks brighter than ever. You’ve been washed clean. You’re ready for the next growth spurt. That’s especially true if we’ve learned something about ourselves from the dark crossing. We emerge stronger, wiser, more circumspect.

Hopefully, we also emerge more useful to the folks around us, because we have some perspective to offer. And then, if we’re really wise and smart, we offer that perspective only in measured doses. We instead learn to listen and watch and follow along as others live their journeys, too.

With kids, for example, you really don’t want them to experience heartbreak. So there’s a tendency to offer way too much perspective, almost all the time.

I used to do some of that with Nate. I try not to do it so much these days. I realize now that he must live his own journey. He’s on his boat, and he’s got his own set of charts, and his own star to follow. And the only way my perspective will be useful to him is, perhaps, in retrospect. When he gets old enough, he may see that some of that “Daddy wisdom” as he calls it was actually on point. If that day comes, maybe then he can recall some of the other crap I told him… and get some use out of it.

Who knows. I still can’t tell if we as a species ever get wiser. Somehow I doubt it. But that’s not a bad thing. That’s where poetry comes from.

I ramble.

If you haven’t guessed by now, today’s song is about heartbreak. Guy gets girl. Guy becomes a superhero (to himself, at least), as a result. Guy loses girl. Superhero takes a fall. He turns in his cape. And hopefully comes out better for it, ultimately.

I should add that this song is unique for a few reasons, and especially meaningful to me.

First, I wrote it on the piano. I think that was a first. And it brought out a whole series of new notes and progressions for me. I’m no piano player, but certainly I’m learning to respect the immense power of that cathedral of an instrument.

In addition, this is not the first recorded version of the song. I recorded a prior version with my friend and fellow songster, Dan Ostrowski. (I hope to share some of our co-creations in this space soon.) Dan’s a great drummer, and a great keyboardist, and a great writer, too.

When we recorded the prior version (which was actually the second recorded version — I did an earlier rough demo at home), Dan played keys. He actually gave the song a groove — which is something I don’t generally do. I’m sadly groove-less. I can spin out a melody, and write lyrics. But as far as rhythm, I have a lot to learn.

Fortunately, I have found a teacher — a true master of rhythm. He brings great, moving rhythm to both the drums and the keys.

His keyboard playing basically inspired the keys on this recording. If you hear a bouncing, funky little groove creeping into the piano on occasion, that’s Dan’s influence.

In addition, I added in a simple bass line, and found a drum machine beat that seemed to go along with it. (Again, with the prior version, Dan created a REAL drum part. I’ll post that prior version of the song here at some point soon. I still need to get Dan’s and Richard Branson’s clearance to release that recording.)

But for now, you’ll have to make do with this version of a song I call:

The Fall of Superman

6 Responses to “The Fall of Superman”

  1. jaz November 7, 2015 at 7:36 pm #

    this is my favorite so far. much love from jaz

    • The Publisher November 12, 2015 at 8:57 pm #

      Awesome that you liked that one – thank you for the kindly words!! Love you too – and see you next week! Jay

      • jaz November 13, 2015 at 1:26 am #

        I’m always here

  2. The Publisher November 14, 2015 at 12:56 am #

    Don’t be going to Southern California for Thanksgiving this year! 🙂

    • jaz November 14, 2015 at 2:14 am #

      don’t worry, it’s always you before Kevin.

      • The Publisher January 2, 2016 at 10:52 pm #

        Haha! Fantastic! Just kidding. It’s not a CONTEST, Jaz. 🙂

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