I won’t say it’s a flood, or a daily thing, but I am often asked, sometimes in person, sometimes in writing, about the process of creating songs. I’ve written before that it’s a rather mysterious thing, one I don’t fully understand, but there are some things I can relay. First, you need some of the natural gift of creating melody, that has to be in your genes. Then you have to be an observer, noticing the world and nature and people around you, and you yourself, and you have to have the patience to persevere when you have a burst of mind but nothing jells. That last one is a killer.  Often a song will take months – “Wong Ping” took a year – but sometimes it just lands on you almost whole. “Blade O’ Grass” took about two hours. Sometimes you start with a snatch of melody. Sometimes just the title of the song. There is no set formula; it’s trial and error. Sometimes throw everything out and start from scratch. And sometimes just give up completely and deep six the idea. Below, for example, is a lyric I wrote some time ago (I don’t recall what propelled it, but something did) that I have in my archives but I never got around to putting music to it; can’t give you any cogent reason, I just never did.  I’m presenting it here almost as something created but truly not yet born, in other words, not out there anywhere, just waiting in the station, essentially a poem, not yet a song.

 

Why di hell um tekkin so long

 

Since ah back in Guyana

How tings, people want to know

They ask me, if it coming to come

But it look like it going to go

 

Some days, di place real hard, me brudda

Hard like piece o’ greenheart

It jukkin mi in mi belly

Ah just doan know where fuh start

 

Money running low, mi sista

Why so ah won’t speculate

All ah know is plenty people saying

Look budday, le’ we migrate

 

Yuh risking yuh life when yuh go pon de road

Speed limit is long time scene

They will kill you to pass, big red light

but some people seeing it green

 

What country is dis dat ah livin in

A hear is di land of mi birth

Ah doan understand who tell me fuh born here

Down to mi toe-nail and all does hurt

Mi cousin Joe tell me hold on budday

Good time coming, you know

Ah been hearing dat since mi short pants days

Dis good time coming real slow

 

What country is dis dat we living in

How come we get to dis state

Is all o we in dis ting, Bobo

Even di ones who migrate

 

Doan wait fuh de politician;

No change will come to the land

If we stan quiet in de corner,

Only folding we hand

 

Don’t wait fuh no damn Messiah

Dat never coming to pass

If me and you cannot fix it

In di end we guh pass for grass

 

You have to hold onto di sunset

Or morning Mahaica Beach

The Essequibo, the Rupununi

From dat some contentment reach

 

We waiting for a second Mandela to come

To make everything go right

But up to now I don’t see nobody

Um look like dis country blight

 

We hoping now for di good days

Like di words in a favourite song

You have to believe dat will happen

But why di hell um tekkin so long

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