Lyrics, Songwriting, Writing, Writing Process

Trying to Get Through Spring

Spring Roses in Basel

Spring Roses in Basel

There are so many beautiful songs about Spring–songs that cover different aspects  of the weather, the flowers, themes of renewal, loss, and love. I think that the seasons resonate with everyone, at least everyone who lives in an area of the world where they set the schedule for planting, growing, harvest, and fallow. Anyone who has experienced these shifts in temperature, these quarterly phases and physical reminders of life, death and re-birth can appreciate the metaphors of Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn.

White tulips at midnight - Spring in NYC

White tulips at midnight – Spring in NYC

The song I want to talk about today, analyze in a way, was written a few years ago. At the time, I was learning many jazz standards, all new to me, while also grieving a loss, so I happened to write a song that reflected my deep sadness, yet reminded me of all the lovely things Spring has to offer. I was especially focused on flowers I had been singing about in the other standards, or flowers that had personal meaning to me from my childhood.

So, I will attempt to dissect and explain the song lyrics a little and to indicate my inspiration for various lines and phrases. In these “backstory notes” (my lyric-writing-thought-process) you will see that I purposely personified the flowers in the lyrics as I imagined that all the living things around me were aware of my grief and were doing the best they could to comfort and cheer me. I had to open my eyes to that beauty, to acknowledge that those natural healing resources were all around me.

Hopefully, I am not being too confusing in my attempt. (All inspiration comments will be in a small italic purple font placed after each stanza.)

Wishing you all a very happy Spring ahead. -Laurie

Yellow daffodils in NYC

Tryin’ to Get Through Spring Without You
©2009 Laurie Early

Daffodils are waking up, I cannot hear a sound
Hyacinths are soaking up the sunlight all around
But I just can’t seem to get my chin up off the ground
Tryin’ to get through Spring without you.

  • Daffodils and purple hyacinths grew on the hill behind my childhood home. Each day I would go outside and check on their growth. The daffodils’ large yellow heads would start out all sleepy and droopy, closed in on themselves, and then by mid-spring their blossoms would open and display the “trumpet” shape. I had recently learned Billy Strayhorn’s “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” and so the daffodils were on my mind.
  • When I was in my 30’s I read an article about how amazing some forms of hyacinths are at soaking up toxins from the earth around them, so the idea of them soaking up the sunshine came to mind.
  • As far as sadness goes, to me there is nothing worse than the feeling that you can’t get out of bed and face the day, the “chin on the ground” image reminds me of my sense of lethargy that particular Spring.
image

No, not lilacs, but almost as lovely (Sicily, September 2015)

Lilacs grow along the road where we both walked before
Tulips standing guard around that beat-up cellar door
where I just sit and cry for I know what’s in store
Tryin’ to get through Spring without you.

  • Lilacs are my favorite flowers. I find their fresh scent especially intoxicating. I was reminded of a street where I used to walk, where lilacs bushes grew out towards the sidewalk, escaping through someones fence. I was also thinking about “Lover Come Back to Me”  and “every road I walk along, I walked along with you.”
  • The visual of the very straight and stalwart tulips guarding me while I weep seated on the cellar door comes from two very different sources: The first was a song by Seals & Crofts’ “Advance Guards” which has a line about tall grass, “I used to look out from my window and see the tall grass in the wind. Standing there just like advance guards waiting for the battle to begin.”
  • The second was a song I used to sing, when I was 4 or 5 years old, called “Playmates“. I used to sing it all the time but especially when I sat outside my neighbor’s house on top of their cellar door, waiting for their son to come home from school so we could play.  It was an old Victorian-style house and the cellar door was white with cracked and chipping paint, but I could see why it might be fun to slide down it; however, I mostly sat there by myself. Since the loss of a friend inspired “Tryin’ to Get Through Spring Without You”, my childhood song of friendship bubbled up to the surface, I had a brief vision of sitting on that old white slanted door waiting to play with someone – I had not thought about it in years: “Oh playmate. Come out and play with me. And bring your dollies three. Climb up my apple tree. Shout down my rain barrel. Slide down my cellar door, And we’ll be jolly friends forevermore.”
  • And, there is a pun in the line “for I know what’s in store” as that is what cellars are traditionally used for, to store provisions for those lean times. (In this case I am saying I know what’s going to happen to me next, I know I will cry for you some more, that is what’s in store for me.)

image

You won’t see a crocus or a snowdrop,
or feel the April rain
Robins and blue birds flyin’ over
but you won’t hear their sweet refrain
But the worst part is knowing I won’t
see your smile again, and
I’m tryin’ to get through Spring without you.

  • This “bridge” or “B” section is inspired by 3 songs. First, “It Might As Well Be Spring” which was a song associated with the person I was grieving: “I haven’t seen a crocus or a rosebud, Or a robin on the wing”. The crocus is one of the flowers I was always searching for as I walked to school. I knew if I saw one, Spring was coming soon. The smell of Spring made me very happy as a child. (I used to say the trees smelled like “iced tea”.) I wanted to use roses in the last stanza so instead of saying “crocus or a rosebud” I chose the snowdrop which is another flower from my childhood garden, so pretty, “so gay”, yet another blossom that droops slightly “in a melancholy way”.
  • Second, I was thinking about “The Gentle Rain” which I changed to “April rain” as that is what Spring is all about, the hydration of the soil, nourishment. “We both are lost and alone in the world, walk with me in the gentle rain. Don’t be afraid, I’ve a hand for your hand and I will be your love for a while.”
  • Third, because I was discussing and working on “Blue Skies” at the time of my friend’s passing, this stanza pulls from the images in that song. I had been overly optimistic, thinking that my gray days were gone and I would have those blue skies from now on.

image

Roses spread their sweet perfume everywhere they grow
Cherry blossoms in full bloom create a brilliant show
They almost cheer me up, it seems as if they know
I’m tryin’ to get through Spring without you.

  • Again, “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” made me think about listing the flowers first in each line, so in this AABA song structure, as the final stanza is laid out you can see my pattern.
    • Daffodils
    • Hyacinths
    • (A line describing what’s going on, and then the hook)
    • Lilacs
    • Tulips
    • (A line describing what’s going on, and then the hook)
    • [B Section – which traditionally gives you some additional insight, a transitional statement, or some other explanation that makes the A sections more meaningful] 
    • Roses
    • Cherry Blossoms
    • (A line describing what’s going on, and then the hook)
  • Sometimes imposing extra structure on myself during the drafting process causes me to be more creative in the long-run. It is a problem solving exercise then, a game, if you will, to try and stay within the structure but make it interesting and beautiful at the same time.

Tryin’ to get through Spring
(Not successfully I might add)
Tryin’ to get through Spring
(‘cause I feel so sad)
Tryin’ to get through Spring without you.

  • This is the “tag” section of the song, sung at the very end. Just a way to add a little more “back story” for the audience, as if I have to explain to them that I wish I could be happier but I am just not able to be happy right now.

image

Advertisements

6 Comments

  1. As I read through your post, delicately laid out, I know, many a flower has blossomed in this time…

    Like

  2. Sandra Klassen says

    Laurie dear, it’s taken some time finding you again. I’m hoping you still have copies of the CD with Tablet of Ahmad … I hope to purchase several.

    Like

    • Hi Sandra! I will write to you on Facebook. I have only a few left and you can have them – I don’t distribute those CDs anymore. I will send you the shipping cost only. Big hug!

      Like

Comments are closed.