I will remember May 14, 2013. This is the day that my song, “I Will Carry You”, gained new potential and became available to the public in some exciting new ways.
When I wrote “IWCY”, I had a specific artist in mind. My “song plugger” at the time — that’s what they’re called in Nashville — told me about a Country singer whose grandchild had a sad and crippling disease. He was interested in a song that captured his caring about the child.
That’s what inspired my concept and words … but it turns out that a song about unswerving love and loyalty applies to anyone lucky enough to love and be loved. It’s being pitched in Nashville right now by a much better “plugger” than the one I had back then (Dec., 2007 — so the song is six years old, but hopefully its message is timeless!)
It is currently being KEPT — that’s the official “plugger’s” term — by a TV show. I’ve been right here before, with this song and others: some famous artists have seriously considered it (and some still might) but as yet, it hasn’t been “cut” by a Country artist.
Meanwhile, Shara Strand loved the song and chose it, along with D1 Music, for her first EP, “Born Tonight.” Now it’s being introduced as Shara’s second single … with three exciting new elements —
#1 – For $7.00 on iTunes today, one can buy the complete album,
with the original version, plus 16 DJ remixes, in both Club and Radio versions. For me as a songwriter, it’s a kick to hear how DJs with different sensibilities re-invent the song for different types of Dance Clubs and radio stations around the country. It seems to me almost anyone would find at least one version of the song they like … if not to dance to, at least to wiggle or tap to!
#2 – I’ve been fortunate to develop a partnership for Shara and the song with the American Humane Association — http://www.americanhumane.org — and proceeds from the song’s sales will benefit the wonderful work they do “to ensure the welfare, wellness and well-being of children and animals.”
#3 – a Facebook contest is happening right now. All people have to do is to send in a photo of themselves and their pets … any photo that expresses the loving relationship between them. Cash prizes will go to the winners, and contributions to AHA will be made in their names. If you love a special animal and would like to participate: http://www.sharastrand.com/contest.
So … a milestone day and new versions of a song I’m proud of, now available for people to dance to. I hope they do!
Today was about writing speeches, letters or videos for successful, high-powered corporate executives … and accepting assignments for non-corporate “regular” people — a University’s commencement address by the successful entrepreneur being honored … a father’s baptism speech for his 4-month old … and a speech for an Arizona lawyer, about my age, who just lost his dad and wants to celebrate him and his life at a memorial service.
It was an intense day. But I received thanks along the way from people who were really, really happy with my work. Which felt great.
They all understand — these people who find me … I make them understand … that I am a “limited trick pony.” (Fortunately, I’ve grown enough and become confident enough not to confine myself to just one trick. That, alone, was worth the years of psychotherapy.)
Then tonight … tonight … I took off and went downtown to Joe’s Pub for a performance by four songwriters in a CMA (“Country Music Association”) evening there. The focus was country music … famous, successful songs, performed by the people who actually wrote ’em. (Oh, how dangerous I would be, if I could compose, play, and perform!)
I wrote down at least a half-dozen song ideas among the various notes I made while basking not only in the songs, but also in the inspirations that led to them, as told by the folks who actually wrote them.
During the day, today — I forgot to mention — I also worked to support “I Will Carry You”, the song I wrote with Paul Guzzone — to prepare for its launch as Shara Strand’s next single. It’s been remixed by a colorful swathe of DJs … transforming the initial work into different beats and interpretations for a range of Dance Club vibes.
Tonight though, a different genre for me: Country. And here was Shane McAnally — whose name I’d never heard before. Suddenly he was playing one of my favorite Country songs — “Come Over” by Kenny Chesney … a huge hit, and a song I love for the way it captures, seductively, the loneliness and need of someone in need of a visit … and more. Shane told us how the song developed. I sang and rocked along with the audience, while admiring his work.
A great speech captures a truth of the speaker in a way that makes people get it. A great song creates a feeling — based on truth. I felt that as Shane sang the song so poignantly, while melodically. The audience — yearning into the mood of desire within the song — rocked along together like a hundred paid performers.
I realized so clearly again tonight … I was meant to be a Writer. Aside from my irreplaceable and beloved partner, that, in fact, is my joy: writing. How lucky am I … to have found what I was meant for, and to love it as I live it.
I’m grateful that I can share these words. And be so happy.
I learned this morning that a choral song I wrote with composer Jim Papoulis, We Can Plant a Forest, has just been named a Finalist in an interesting songwriting competition. It’s called the “Eco Arts Awards” — http://www.ecoartsawards.com. They’re a group of volunteer collaborators, dedicated to raising global awareness of everyone’s responsibility — and opportunities — for the ecology of our planet.
I grew up on an island off the coast South Carolina, a speck on Atlantic ocean. Beautiful beaches were part of everyday life, and a “forest” (as I thought of it — today I’d call it a “woods”) was right behind our house.
As much as I love such essential modernities as air conditioning and high-speed Internet, I will always remember finding “sand dollars” on the beaches and loving the fragrance of fresh pine cone branches I could sniff in my own backyard.
After learning about the Eco-Arts competition, I entered “Forest” immediately. Jim and I have been sharing our royalties with Trees for the Future (http://www.treesforthefuture.org) and have thus far caused some 30,000 new trees to be planted on earth — a tiny fraction of the need.
When I spoke with the group’s Founder and Managing Director, Kathryn Edwards … I was immediately impressed with the sincerity of her commitment, and the way that she’s applying her professional experience in advertising, publishing and community arts to make a difference to public consciousness of, and support for, the ecology of earth.
Of course, I hope we win the prize in the Songwriting category. But as they say at the “Oscars” — and as SOME of the quoted actors and actresses surely must actually mean it — from an organization like this one, “It’s an honor just to be nominated.”
And frankly, as a writer, it feels great to know that a few of my words are now publicly part of a much larger effort to do something good for the health of our planet.
In one seed
You’ll find tomorrow
Is a tree of life
In each tree
There is a forest
That is waiting to be grown
By 1984, I was one year out of corporate life … doing marketing consulting for a client who promised to make me a multi-millionaire (but lied his way into owing me $80,000 forever, which taught me some valuable lessons.)
As an early “interactive journalist” — along with my reports of the national political conventions, Oscars, and computer shows that I shared online — I posted interviews, from San Francisco to Paris, of what would eventually become my book, CHRONICLE: The Human Side of AIDS.
Also in 1984, I saw Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway musical, “Sunday in the Park with George”. The quality and message of that innovative work of theatrical and staging art moved me tremendously… inspired me to persevere on my own creative path, despite the strains and obstacles I was experiencing.
I remember coming home from the show … sharing in an online article the new motivation it had given me … and receiving back encouragement from far-flung readers whom I would never have met in person. That kind of feedback was the miracle of the “interactive” communications that so many of us were exploring and developing back then.
And now … in January, 2013 … I just saw a landmark production from another genius of the theater: Edward Albee. I attended the show’s original production FIFTY years ago (it opened in October, 1962, and I was still a newly arrived New Yorker.) It was a major sensation back then, but the current production — with Amy Morton and Tracy Letts — is astonishing, as well.
The message of the play, and the thoughts it gave me (once again) about living life authentically and finding happiness in who we are — well, they’re as powerful as ever.
But the show — the ferocious talent I’ve just experienced, very much including Albee’s writing — made me grateful to have realized that I had not been destined at all to be a playwright. That ability is simply not my gift.
Instead, I’m lucky to have discovered what has felt for many years is what I was meant for … i.e., speech and presentation writing (and coaching executives on how to present themselves with maximum impact on-stage) as a highly satisfying “Day job” … and writing song lyrics, expressing myself in the context of music, as my creative passion.
It turns out, that is who I am. What a stroke of good fortune to have found my real self. And what exciting hopes I have … believing, even at this stage in my life, that the best is yet to come.
May it be so.
In my final years at Avon Products Inc — when I had the greatest power, influence and karma I’d ever had as their youngest VP (before I started working for an insufferable jerk and did the bravest thing I’d ever done in my life and quit) … … I talked them into creating marketing partnerships with two movies.
For Annie we created the special Annie Locket (an identical copy of the one worn by the adorable moppet orphan in the Columbia pictures movie.)
And for ET we designed the amazing “ET Pot Pal” — might it help your plants grow with the same magical powers that ET used in the Spielberg film?
I went out to Hollywood to make the deal between Avon and Universal Studios. This was quite outlandish territory for Avon of that time. But those experiences helped me to experience, and believe in, the potential synergies among very different organizations, who find positive common ground.
(screen wipe to indicate the passage of 30 years)
Today I no longer hassle with the bureaucracy of a big, sluggish corporation as my employer and “approver.”
As I tell clients when they bring me on-board to perform multiple roles, when you hire Mike Greenly, you don’t have to wonder if your Writer, Speech Coach and Creative Director will get along. They’ll always share an identical point of view … mine!
And out here in the big wide world, I feel in many ways that, despite the man I see in the mirror, I have only just begun.
One example of what invigorates me is the partnership I’ve just established with the American Humane Association. I’m proud to know that this wonderful organization will benefit from my song, I Will Carry You… written with composer Paul Guzzone … performed by the beautifully talented Shara Strand … and to be released this spring by D1 Music as her second single with a new Dance Club remix. (Currently available on iTunes in both Pop and “Live Acappella” versions.)
I’ll say more about all that in the weeks and months ahead. But for now let me acknowledge that the folks at AHA are tremendous … wonderfully caring, hard-working people who help children and animals in, often, desperate need.
And let me add, in case you couldn’t tell … I’m happy.
Mike Greenly Lyricist
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