Song 51 – The Rainbow

Folks, that beautiful voice you hear is Miriam Chicurel-Bayard’s. I feel so fortunate to have had her sing with me on so many of my songs. Every time she records a part, I study everything she does in hopes that I can learn a trick or two to use myself. And those cute drawings in the video? Those were by Brian Risk. He brought a lot of magic to make the video work.

I’m a member of BMI, a company that collects royalties, some for themselves and some for songwriters should their songs be played in K-Mart or some other public space. BMI doesn’t make much money off of me. People don’t shop to the tune of Mr. Haddy. Instead, BMI makes its fortune from hit songwriters – the people that write the songs you shop to.

In order to collect more royalties, BMI sends out a newsletter every week with advice on how to write a hit song. With minor differences to keep it sounding fresh, the gist is always the same: Listen to the radio, learn the formula used by the current hit songs, follow that formula.

Strangely, this advice for success is the same for almost every occupation. Sage, expert guidance for writing a hit song is the same counseling my statistics teachers gave me: “look at how other people analyze the data, learn the formula, then follow it.”

As practical as this advice is, it has always chaffed me. It’s very good at producing more of the same stuff that people want, and I appreciate how valuable that is to so many people, myself included, but it doesn’t do much for creating something new. Following recipes won’t create a new statistical test (needed for a new experiment), nor will it capture the songs I hear in my head. On the other hand, there’s no sense in creating a new statistical test if a suitable one already exists, and there’s no sense in writing music, no matter how personal, if no one else will listen to it (after all, music is a form of communication.)

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This song, like so many of my songs, started in the shower. This time it was the very last line that came to me first, “He must have found the rainbow’s end, this I’m sure”.

For a long while, I had no idea what that meant. The words alone described achievement and success, but the melody suggested that things hadn’t gone exactly as planed. It made me wonder about “success”. Was it following the recipe? Was it more personal? Was it writing a hit song? Or was it expressing the songs I hear in my head, even if they don’t lend themselves to radio play. Was it somewhere in between? With those questions in mind, the song wrote itself about the internal and external hallmarks of success that we desire.

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Folks! I hope you had a wonderful March. Mine was great. I shaved on the first day of spring, but I’m already letting the beard grow back. I enjoyed seeing my face for a few days but I certainly don’t need to see it every day. I also had a fun trip to visit my parents in The City of Plant City, Florida. If you’d like to sing or play along with this tune, here’s the song sheet!

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