FAWM not so much, though it’s still an acronym for writers — song writers. Yep, FAWM stands for February Album Writing Month.
I’m no songwriter. An iguana has about as much talent on guitar and I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Still, I like to dream. And I give a lot of lip service to switching muses. So for February, I’m hanging out with the songwriting muse. I’m not going for a whole album; I’m going for one song, meant to replace a very real song I quote too much of in a middle-grade, novel-in-progress. If said novel is ever published, I want to have my backup ready in case the real song proves cost-prohibitive. My music wouldn’t show up in a book, of course, just the lyrics. But if you’re betting on three chords, you’re probably right.
I wanted to highlight some music from a gen-u-ine fawmer in this post, so here’s a link to I Hate to Be That Guy, my friend Chris Henson’s first FAWM song of the year, which he posted today. As you can see, he’s starting out strong.
This is Chris’ third year doing FAWM.
“Two years ago a songwriting buddy of mine suggested I give it a shot,” he said. “My day job is in advertising, but on occasion I get to write a 30-second instrumental piece for a commercial or something. I’ve got a studio in my office and I’ve been a musician [mostly jazz] for a long time, but I never thought I could actually write a song for people to actually listen to. I had a couple of pretty OK songs I’d been tinkering with that were nearly complete when I heard about FAWM. So I sorta cheated and posted them. I got a really good response, so I started working on more stuff.”
He’s never completed all 14 songs in a month, just like many NaNoWriMo people often don’t complete a whole novel. “Something always comes up about mid-month and just kills it,” he said. “Also, I don’t like to toss together a song just to meet that magic number. I’m not good at it. I have a lot of respect for those who can do it.”
But he always comes out of the bleak mid-winter with something.
The best thing about FAWM is that it’s inspirational, Chris said. “I’ve actually held back ideas so I could finish them in the month, post them and get comments on them. I also love hearing other people’s music. Just when you think it’s all been done, some woman in France records a quirky song on her piano that makes you feel like you live in the apartment beneath Erik Satie. Like you’re hearing something really cool before anyone else does. There’s funny stuff I’ll listen to over and over. And there’s deeply personal stuff that you can’t help being moved by.”
There’s also some crap, he said. “So in that way, it’s just like the music industry.”
[If you want to eavesdrop, too, here’s a link to the FAWM jukebox.]
This year, Chris says he has a bunch of ideas. “It’s just a question of finding the time to commit them to ones and zeros.
“But here’s the thing about FAWM for me. If my buddy Phil hadn’t convinced me to give it a shot I wouldn’t be writing songs like these at all. And I think that’s the point. If they could somehow work an open bar into to the whole experience, it’d be even better.”
After writing a bunch of songs for FAWM, Chris and his younger brother, Will, put together a band that plays original music. At actual bars.
This one’s not original (at least the intro) but it cracked me up when Chris first posted the link on Facebook:
Enjoy! Good luck to the fawmers. And good like to all writers, whatever you’re writing.
*This post written while home with a sick kid, during which we watched way too many of those Radioshack Squirrel Commercials.