A Songwriter's Story: "Thanksgiving Prayer"

I’m not accustomed to writing blog posts. I think a lot about what it is to be a musician, a writer, but I usually express those thoughts in song. And they’re not always very straightforward, couched as they often are in metaphor or to accommodate a rhyme scheme.

So I hope to use this space to stretch out, to be more direct, more instructive, even while I may muse on the muse and her associated tools and manifestations. Thanks for joining me.

Every day I get to write, and to play music, is a great day, for which I am very grateful. I am a recovering lawyer, and while that was a great gig for me for a while (and while I cast no aspersions whatsoever on the noble profession), as a songwriter I am able to connect with my feelings of joy and gratitude more directly.

This is the story of “Thanksgiving Prayer.”

I was taking a songwriting class, and the assignment was to write a song about how Thanksgiving makes you feel. For her part, the instructor said she just wants to close the curtains, shut out the world, and order in Chinese food. I happen to LOVE Thanksgiving. I love how it’s a day off to connect with others, and to cook and eat great food, no gift-buying pressure.

I let those thoughts percolate and before I knew it, I found that music and lyrics had filled my head. I’m primarily a guitar player now, although I am technically a classically trained pianist. I struggled for days to translate what was in my head into guitar chords and melody, without success.

And that was when a sort of miracle happened. I put the guitar down, and found myself moving to the piano. I sat down, and the next thing I knew, I was playing the entire chorus of the song, chords, melody and all, with tears streaming down my face. WOW!

It was as if the song bypassed my intellect, habits, my inner censor, and went directly from my heart to my fingers. And “Thanksgiving Prayer” was born. I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that I did some rewriting of the verses, but when it was done, it was exactly how I heard it in my head.

How many times do I need to learn this lesson? In order to create something new, I had to let go and DO something new. I had to move out of what I was used to, what I was stuck in, and trust that the process would lead me to where I was meant to be.

We don’t get much validation for that, or room for that sort of experimentation if we’re trying to “make a living” in music. Most often, our art is our art, and what’s commercially viable may not be close to our hearts. I’m still naïve enough to believe, though, that there may be an occasional, happy intersection of the two.

Here’s a link to hear singer/songwriter Laura Zucker performing “Thanksgiving Prayer,” from the album By The Refinery Lights.

Singer-songwriter Laura Zucker wins audiences over with a hard-won perspective and a positive spin. The powerful imagery of her songs and stories ring so true you might think she’s read your diary – and you’ll find yourself humming her infectious melodies for days to come. She’s a two-time finalist in the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk competition in Texas, 2013 West Coast Songwriters Association Best Song of the Year, and has received numerous accolades and awards from the organizations around the world. She has released three CDs of original songs and released, "Life Wide Open," in 2013l. More at LauraZucker.com

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