His name is Babs. When he told me that his name is Babs, I really wanted to make a smart-arse comment about it sounding like a girl’s name, short for Barbara, perhaps. Anyway, his name is Babs and he compensates for his name by being tall and big-boned, which is why I didn’t infer that his name sounds like that of a lady. My momma didn’t raise no fool.
Babs works as the music producer at Transworld Radio, Kenya and I was referred to him by a lady who heard me sing and thought that I could do something income-bringing with it. Here’s the thing though, I sing. I don’t perform, I don’t write songs; I sing. Give me a microphone and a place to stand/ sit and i’ll sing. Don’t ask me to bounce around the stage or write a song because that, I won’t.
Anyway, the lady had referred me to Babs, believing that as a music producer, he would help to channel my mojo. Babs was pleasant, and after a chat during which we discussed my options, he gave me an assignment. He told me to write a song, record myself singing it, and send it to him via Whatsapp. He said that it didn’t matter whether it was a few lines or a sonnet, as long as I wrote a song. And so I did.
On my way home from that meeting, while on the bus, I wrote a song on a memo pad. It was a rather long song. Not quite a sonnet, but long nonetheless. The song was true, raw, honest and bare. It was my soul, bared.
This all happened a few months ago and no, I didn’t go back to see Babs. I didn’t send the song to Babs either, because in as much as I can write a song, I do not hear the melody in my head, and because I don’t hear the melody, it’s not so much a song as it is a poem. And so instead of songs, I write poems 🙂 or poem-adjacent prose.
When asked in the past, I have responded that the reason I don’t write my own songs is because I don’t hear the melody in my head and am therefore not able to sing it. Recently though, I’ve realized that the reason goes deeper than that. I’ve realized that the reason I prefer to write poems and prose is because when I write, I write out of what I am feeling in that particular instance. This is all fine and honky-dory with a poem or an article but with a song? No. A song is a thing that I will sing over and over again, even when my feelings about the subject have changed. With a song, I’ll be singing those lyrics over and over, performing them, listening to them, playing them over and over; even when I feel differently about that topic.
And this is the real reason why I don’t write my own songs. This is also the real reason why I didn’t work out the melody for the song that I had written and send it to Babs. Because later, while I was reading the lyrics that I had written, my feelings had already changed regarding some of the words that I’d written.
Feelings are fickle. Mine change from minute to minute, and it hasn’t been until a few months ago that I’ve begun to consciously anchor myself on something stronger than feelings; something stable, immovable, unchanging.
A friend told me a while back, that I needed to be more stable – that I needed to be whole and well, regardless of my circumstances. At the time, I felt that this was impossible. And it was, because I was achoring this stability and wholeness on my own effort and my own ability to stay calm in the face unstable circumstances. At the time, I also felt a little insulted and more than a little defensive because, “dude! are you saying that I am an emotional mess?!!” Anyway, in time, and with the wisdom that is Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30) , I have learnt to see Christ as my anchor and my rock. The fruit of this has been assurance, stability, wholeness.
It hasn’t been easy, it hasn’t happened overnight, it hasn’t happened without turmoil and transformation on my part, and I am certainly not saying that I am there yet. What I am saying is that because I now look at Christ and see that I am as He is; I am more at peace than I have ever been, I am more stable than I have ever been, I am anchored, I am secure, I am beloved.
And no, it is not a bad thing to be emotional. At some point, I don’t know when, the word ’emotional’ has become shrouded in negativity. Don’t allow your emotions to be belittled or invalidated. Feel them; but don’t give them the power to control you or determine your behaviour or belief. Anchor your wholeness on that which is unshakable.
As for me, I may finally have something unshakable about which I can write songs :-).
Click here to listen to some of my recordings.