Lyrics, Lyrics for other Composers, Songwriting, Writing, Writing Process

Vocalese 101

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly, live.” ~Dalai Lama

Instead of drafting an October blogpost, I focused all my brain energy on completing my homework for Bob Mover’s Jazz Workshop. (Whatever brain energy was left at the end of each workday, which is not much, let me tell you!)

Bob assigned the class “Donna Lee” (click to hear Bird playing it), and he told us all to memorize the head (the first 32 bars).  I was speaking to him on the phone today and I mentioned that I had completed the song but not the Charlie Parker solo. He reminded me that I did not have to memorize the solo, unless I wanted to (which I do want to memorize, of course!) So, I am happy to be done for now and prepared for the November 1st class.  Bob did not seem surprised that I was done, and he laughed when I told him I had written lyrics inspired by a Dalai Lama quote I had read. He quickly interjected, “Oh, so now it’s, Dalai Lee!”

Here are my lyrics:

Yesterday’s come and gone and there is no way you can turn it around or go back and re-live it.
And the same is true for your tomorrow, you just have to simply wait and see how that turns out, for there is no way to predict it.
Live each precious moment! Baby, just stay focused on your dreams and you will find that ev’ry vision you’ve had will lead you to the promised land of happiness, and…
Maybe then you’ll see that you must live right now; yes, only live in today!
Yesterday’s in the past that’s where it stays so just give up on the thought that you can ever change it.
It’s today, today! That’s where we stay. This moment is new. Yes, totally new; it’s true.
Time loves today, today will stay, there won’t be any other way, and naturally time won’t stop and wait around while you just stand there looking dumb, and wond’ring why, the sky is blue; if I love you? or dreams come true?

There are some other lyrics and vocalized versions of the tune, all enjoyable in their own way. Search on YouTube if you are interested in hearing them. For me, the most effective way to learn a melody is to attach words to it. They don’t have to make sense, or even tell a story; but it’s helpful if they do. The melody reminds me of the words and the words remind me of the melody. Each is a mnemonic device for the other.

Here is a good Donna Lee video for learning the melody – clearly played on the guitar in different speeds, gradually getting faster, so you can learn it.


  1. Lorena Vocals says

    Hi Laurie,

    Nice lyrics ! You really have a wonderful talent for writing ! Say hi to Bob Mover when you see him, I’m sure he won’t remember me, I met him in Rome at Tony Scott’s house on a New Year Eve Party when there was that wonderful concert with 100 pianos in Piazza Navona, I think it was 1994 or so …..

    I hope you’re doing well and singing.


    Lorena Fontana

    Inviato da iPad



    • Hey there, Lorena! I will certainly give Bob your regards. I am doing well and hope you are too. Maybe you will come to Rome in March? (hint hint). Big hug for you! Laurie


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