Todd Durrant’s Random Thoughts
Follow the efforts of a creative, crazed entrepreneur.

Corn Songs

Sometimes things get slow while I’m manning the corner produce stand.  Even after pre-filling some bags with a dozen ears of corn, cleaning up the stray husks, and rearranging my pile to look attractive to the passing vehicles, I run out of things to do.   At those times I pull out my little notepad, pen, and MP3 recorder and I work on a song.  I’ve written several songs this summer while waiting for corn-frenzied customers.

The first song I worked on was for Rename’s “Real Songs for Real People” project (see www.rename-music.com).   The song is called “What’s Wrong With You?” and it is sponsored by a farmer who likes wearing a kilt but doesn’t like the strange reactions he gets from people who see him as nothing more than a man in a skirt.  It makes sense that the very first lines in the song also fit the setting in which it was written:

It’s not the corn
That earns such unbridled scorn

I’ve worked on a couple other songs for that same Rename project while sitting on the street corner.   I’ve now written two versions of a song called “Mimo and Joe” and some lyrics for a currently untitled song sponsored by somebody who is a serious movie addict.

Last week I wrote verse lyrics for a song that I’d started recording a few weeks ago for my fourth Saudade release.  It is the title song for the release, “Restricted”, and in order to fit the general theme of that particular release, the lyrics are a bit introspective as I (or anybody else) wonders why we get into the occasional troubles we face and how binding those trials can seem.   Yeah, pretty dismal, but hey, it’s Saudade, and it’s supposed to be a bit on the melancholy side of the spectrum.  Here is one of my favorite stanzas from the 2nd verse of “Restricted”:

A penny saved is a penny earned
That is a lesson I never learned
I wanted what I wanted and I didn’t care how
A penny borrowed is three pennies paid back now

I’ve written a couple other music concepts while sitting on the metal folding chair in the hot summer air.  I wrote a little idea called “Hungry” and also started another untitled song that I’ll probably abandon.   The thing is, lately when I write a song I have a melody in my head right along with the lyrics.  I always fear that if I get back to filling bags of corn, talking to people, and minding business, I’ll forget the tune and the lyrics won’t make musical sense anymore as I try to get back to it.  Plus, I’m kind of forgetful these days anyway– I suppose it comes with age.    That is where my little MP3 recorder comes in handy.   People who have driven by and glanced at the pile of corn may have caught a glimpse of the salesman singing into a little black device as his eyes dart nervously around for any approaching customers.   My Mp3 recorder is quickly filling up with musical ideas that will hopefully be translated into finished recordings one day.

Yesterday I arrived at the stand at 1PM to begin my shift.  A young woman named Alison who works in the mornings is usually excited for me to show up and replace her.   I asked if she was excited for school to start again in a couple of weeks (she is still in high school).   Of course she answered “no” but then explained that she is looking forward to being in drama, IF she can make is past the tryouts.  I asked what she needs to do for tryouts and she explained that she must learn and perform a dance routine, and then sing a song.

“What song are you going to sing?”

“I don’t know.  I have to pick something.  It’s my choice.”

“Well, why don’t you write your own song?”

“I can’t write songs!”

“Sure you can!”

“No, I can’t. ”

“OK, I’ll write one for you to use in your tryout.”

“Yeah, right.”

Though I was joking around with her a bit, I decided I’d go ahead and write a little ditty for her.  She probably wouldn’t use it during a tryout, since she wouldn’t have any pianist that could improvise an accompaniment, and probably no “sound guy” to push play on a back-up recording.   I took it as the little challenge for the day.   Corn sales were a little bit slower yesterday, so I accomplished my mission.  The song is on the silly side of the spectrum and certainly not politically correct.   The chorus repeats certain elements, but changes a few words each time.   It starts like this:

I’m here to sing a little song for you
‘Cause that is the test you put me through

For drama, for drama
More taxing than Obama
Theater, theater
More intimidating than Darth Vader

…or a later chorus

For drama, for drama
I’d perform for the Dalai Lama
Theater, theater
I promise you’ll thank me later

Yeah, I know, pretty stupid.  But if you hear the melody (which I have conveniently sung into my MP3 recorder with traffic noise in the background), and you picture somebody like Ashley Tisdale from High School Musical dancing around in a funny outfit on stage, it could work.   Come on!  Work with me!  I could write songs for high school drama!  OK, maybe not.  Anyway, don’t expect to hear that song on a Saudade album any time soon.

Anyway, maybe I’ll feel inspired today.   Or maybe I’ll have too many customers and won’t get a chance.   We shall see.

-Todd


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3 Responses to “Corn Songs”

  1. Todd, you sound like me, except I’m not selling corn. Hell, I’m not selling anything these days.

    But I am hard at work on way too much. One of the things I’m working on is an iPhone app for songwriters. If you have an iPhone and would want to help beta test the app, let me know.

    My email is jeffshattuck@gmail.com.

    Jeff

    • Sounds like fun! But alas, I am not an iPhone user. In fact, I barely use a cell phone at all. I only have a $10 Tracfone that I load minutes on every three months or so, just so I have it for emergencies. No monthly plans or large payments. I’m cheap. Heck, I don’t even have an iPod. Just a $40 MP3 player / recorder.

      -Todd

  2. Those songs are pretty corny! Har har… but seriously, it’s nice to hear that you’re still as prolific as ever.


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