Going for a song

Henri could rock out with the best of them,
but first the month end accounts were waiting.

Have you ever had the experience of thinking about someone and then they phone you? Or maybe you’ve been thinking about a type of dog and suddenly one comes walking around the corner towards you? The psychoanalyst Carl Jung labelled such experiences synchronicities and there are people who point to these coincidences as indicative of a ‘world behind the world’. More sceptical observers are quick to point out that we have an incredible capacity for filtering and selective memory, thus we remember the one percentage because it stands out from the commonplace and read into it a significance that, in a wider context, we may see differently.

Funnily enough, that wasn’t what I came to talk about about at all today. Well, there was one synchronicity / coincidence – call it what you will. I was in the garden, singing. And if your imagined ears are already offended, it gets worse – the song was one of mine. Yes, back in the day, I fancied myself as a lyricist.

I’m not entirely sure how we got there, but Wolf and I were chatting on the phone recently and the subject of poetry and lyrics came up. Before you can whisper, “Oh good grief, no,” I’d dug out my old lyrics book from the shelf and delved within.

I mentioned to Wolf, in passing, that I’d once written a song called Coffin Nails (jolly, n’est pas?), back when two friends and I had decided to start a band. One of us – let’s call him Vince – had started a job as an apprentice at a funeral director’s. It was a short-lived job (yeah, I know), in the end, but it provided the inspiration for the first of several songs that we daydreamed releasing as an album entitled ‘Live at the Golden Egg’ – a cafe in Stratford, back in the day.

Anyway, I found a Word version of the lyrics and sent them to Wolf and said I also have a rehearsal recording of said track. I should point out at this point that we were absolutely crap. So bad that the whole misadventure merits a blog post of its own. I’ll simply say here that there was only ever one rehearsal – for one song – and the band, named Bad Timing by me, disappeared from the annals of entertainment thereafter. Which, trust me, was a kindness to all of you.

What was interesting though was seeing the dates next to some of my lyrics. Noting the flurry of creativity every few days, or trying to remember what I was doing with my life at that time. Even more interestingly, for me, are the missing pages.

Anyway, Wolf is pestering me for the cassette and I just can’t seem to lay my hands on it. Funny that!

One of the many things that continues to inspire me about writing is that there are no small stories, not if they’re well told. In the same way that a trip to the shops is a huge adventure to a young child, when something captures the imagination it captivates our interest. We are compelled to make the journey, whether it’s a remembrance or an invention.


  1. Sandra Davies says:

    I read this yesterday, laughing, because my younger son wrote some diabolical song lyrics (one involved throwing mashed potato if I remember rightly)and some time ago he also lectured me on the statistics of coincidence and/or miracle but I was unable to find athe reference to pass on.
    Your final para about 'no small stories' encourages.

  2. Derek says:

    Hi Sandra, straight away you made me think about the song 'Monster Mash' and also 'Do you love me?' (I can mash potato, I can do the twist…). Not sure if your son is a rationalist or not, but, as a writer, I choose to believe in significance. Plus, it fits in with my habits of bringing seemingly disparate ideas together in my writing. If you think about it, every meeting in your life is a coincidence – two people coming together. Whether that's randomness or purpose is one for the jury!

  3. Derek says:

    Hi Charmaine, well I think it can be encouraged by routine and positive expectation. But you know the muse – she appears when she wants to and doesn't keep conventional hours!

  4. Joe says:

    Look forward to reading about your musical 'misadventure' soon 😀

    'There are no small stories'. What a great way to summarise writing. I'd copyright that one if I were you 😉

  5. Derek says:

    Ah, thanks Joe. I'd rather the quote was widely used and assigned, driving hordes of admiring readers to purchase my works when they become available. As you can see, I enjoy writing fiction!

    Rest assured, my musical misadventure will be posted soon. Thankfully without an audio clip.

  6. I totally agree–there are no small stories. Writers have a knack for finding great stories in the simplest of things… like singing a song.

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