Inspried Song Writing
Where Do Alfalfa Males Songs Come From? Musings from singer-songwriter Tim Darby.
Where do songs come from? Any idea?
I wish I knew!
I’ve been writing original songs for three or four years now (well not really writing songs. I can’t read or write score music) and I still don’t really know where they come from.
That might sound like a contradiction but it feels true. (You’re allowed to make self contradictory statements when you’re an alfalfa male?)
Let’s take for instance the song Black Dog. Alfalfala Male, Donald Wilson and I performed this song for the first time recently during the Ecoburbia Summer House Concert series where we played with the Rose Parker Trio.
The song seemed to resonate (pardon the pun) with a lot of folks in the audience.
I guess a song about depression, sung by two blokes in sweet harmonies, is bound to land well with those of us that have felt pain and depression.
One fella sought me out after the gig to tell me he thought that the song was “really brave”.
I wondered initially if he was trying to gently tell me not to sing it again!
“Brave” sounds like a word you’d use to describe a sports team that has just scraped itself up off the floor after being absolutely decimated by an opposition WAY above their pay grade!
Jesus! Those guys got totally smashed!! I can’t believe they even showed up they were so outclassed.
Yep. It was a really brave effort
I checked in with this fella and as it turned out he did like the song and he felt that to sing a song about depression (presumably your own) was pretty personally disclosing and therefore potentially “brave”.
I would hazard a guess that he lives somewhere not in Fremantle (a town where confessing your struggles with mental health is as common as drinking lattes and more common than wearing shoes).
So where did this song come from in the first place?
Well it sort of started off like some sort of amphibious lungfish, slowly emerging from the primordial swamp of my mind one day when I was milking Pumpkin our goat.
I have two goats and they need to be milked twice a day, so I use the time to sing. By the way if you want to listen to a song about my love of goats check this out!https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jPU0whIbcA
I describe it as singing to the goats. I’m not sure if I sing to them or if I just happen to sing while they are there. A bit like I’m not sure if they stay still to be milked because they are soothed by my singing, or if they are just very tolerant....or maybe deaf?
While my hands are busy milking, my mind wanders off and I sing whatever comes out....sometimes sounds, sometimes words....whatever.
One day the conscious part of my brain (the bit in charge of milking) gradually became aware that there was a tuneful sound happening and I decided to record the creating on my phone.
Later that day I listened to the recording and discovered it was kind of a song!
I wrote it down and sent it to Alfalfa Male, Donald who said “Yes well that's sort of a something.”
A few weeks later he requested “Hey sing that thing about the dog.” And he joined in with a deep mournful croon and some finger snapping.
Low and behold ....it sounded awful...that is to say the individual parts sounded good on their own but when we tried to put them together it just didn’t work.
It was like putting toasted marshmallows (yum) with green Thai curry (yum) - the combined outcome was less yum and more yuck!
So as with many songs, we went back to the drawing board...or perhaps more precicely back to the goat pen.
The next time I went to milk Pumpkin I realized that milking her big teats is a slow ponderous process that requires a slow ponderous rhythm.
In a flash of inspiration I realized that the problem Don and I were having with the song about the dog was one of rhythm and timing!
When I sang the dog song while milking Pumpkin it coincided perfectly with the slow rhythmic 4/4 timing. To test out my theory, I ran into the next pen and started singing while milking a startled (and very small teated ) Lady Marmalade (our other goat).
I was so excited that I took a very out of focus selfie of me and one of Pumpkins teets and sent it off to Don....a somewhat cryptic message for poor Donald to receive at 6.00 am.
At the Alfalfa Males next rehearsal I convinced Donald to pretend he was milking a large teated goat while I sang a sad song about dogs and this time it worked perfectly!! Yay!
So where do Alfalfa Males songs come from?
The evidence so far is inconclusive but my best suggestion is…... if you can't find the one you are looking for have a look in the goat pen.
Donald and I have just recorded ‘Black Dog’ and will be releasing a new video shortly so stay tuned!
If you happen to have a connection to mental health, particularly men’s mental health I reckon you might find this one interesting. The Alfalfamales hope it can help you.
Alfalfa Male Tim.