Songs and “Kick Me” Signs

A friend of mine texted me today and asked, “If I wrote a song and it was bad, would you tell me it was bad?”

I replied, “No, but I would tell you how you could improve on it.”

He then forwarded me to his MySpace blog. He had written a song just today about a girl he was once with and still loved. Even though she may have found someone else, he wrote “I’m comin’ home to you, girl.” It struck a chord in me.

I think most of us has dabbled in (in varying degrees) the art form of writing songs and poetry–particularly when the subject most on our minds is love. Not all of our feelings come streaming out onto our paper/screen in a glorious moment of Shakespearian brilliance, but I think it’s still important that we try to write how we feel. By collegiate standards, most of what we write in emotion is pure trash. But by the heart’s standards, these small pieces of writing are gold. If for nothing else but the simple fact that writing your song or your poem proves that you have a heart and that you can feel. Maybe this is why we are so protective of our own work. We all want praise in some form or another so we throw it out there and test it on anyone who is willing to read it. But we refuse to receive any feedback without first announcing that we cannot write for beans. Simply, it’s because it’s your heart that you’re exposing. If someone likes what you’ve written, you want them to like it because they could relate to it. It doesn’t matter so much the way in which you’ve organized these words or why you chose those words to begin with. As long as they make the reader feel the same way you felt when writing the piece, isn’t that all that matters? It’s all about heart, isn’t it?

After reading my friend’s song, I told him that it made me a tear up a little and that I wished someone had written something like that about me–which was the truth. Honestly, it’s one of the better songs I’ve ever read. He said to me, “I thought you were gonna tell me how I could make it better!” and all I could reply with was, “I can’t tell you how to make it better if it’s already good.” I hope he realizes it’s actually a good song. I also had to make him admit that it was about a real person. People don’t write heartbreak songs about people that don’t exist.

It seems to me that in our present society, wearing your heart on your sleeve is like wearing a sign on your back that says “Kick me.” If anybody takes advantage of your vulnerability, you clam up and say “well I don’t know how that got there.” I don’t think this is the right approach. Am I saying we should all go around wearing “kick me” signs? Hell no. That would be just plain silly. But maybe every now and then when we do get caught with one of those signs on our back, perhaps we should say, “Yeah, I knew it was there all along. I just wanted to see whether you had the heart to sympathize with me or not.”

It’s just proof that we’re human. And that’s not such a bad thing.