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there i go exposing myself
a little lyric can be a dangerous thing
by roger striffler

I love to write. Not so much writing for writing's sake, and I'm definitely not the journal type. I mean, I love reading journal entries, I just don't have the discipline to write them every day. That's just not me. I write when I have something to say. When there's something inside that I just need to get out, or something I've been wrestling with that I need to get a grip on. I write to clarify...to capture a thought...to express it to others, or more often, to myself.

Quite often, I find that serious thoughts don't come out in beautiful smooth sentences. They come out in chunks and fragments, related, but incomplete. As a result, a lot of things I try to deal with in my life end up on paper not as prose, but as poetry. This helps me to clear my head - to examine the issue, but without the pressure of having to be detailed in the explanation.

Case in point. A year of struggling with a very difficult and destructive relationship culminated last spring with me sitting in my kitchen at 2am, elbows on the table, head in my hands. I started to write in an attempt to clear my head, and the result was a poem called Into You.

This would be a boring story if it ended here, but it doesn't.

A couple of days later I was talking with my friend Rob Stark, who is a very talented musician. The gist of our conversation was that while he was good at writing music, he hated coming up with lyrics. I told him that I've written lyrics before; twice for my brother, and once for another friend. He asked me to send him some, and later that day he had a copy of Into You.

Keep in mind that sharing my poetry is something I rarely do. Very few people have ever read most of it. It tends to be very personal, and for whatever reason, I tend to be a little more insecure about it. When I write lyrics it's different...it's less personal and generally in reponse to music that's already been written.

I guess it's a testimony to how I feel about Rob that I never really thought twice about showing Into You to him. He's such a close friend that I instinctively trusted him. When he read the words, he said, "Wow. I think I know what this is about...", and I flinched a bit inside, sure that he was right.

Weeks went by, and any trepidation I may have felt dissolved away into the current of day to day life. In fact, I had pretty much forgotten about the whole thing until the fateful Saturday morning that I got the phone call. It was Rob, who simply said "Check out my web site, there's something I want you to hear." I quickly surfed over to the Duck on Bike site, Clicked on Rob's name, and there it was...a new MP3 track - Into You.

A quick double-click and I was sitting there, spellbound. The song had an edge, a tension to it, that perfectly matched the way I had been feeling. Then Rob started singing and I was right back to that night when I sat alone at my table and wrote it all down. To me, it seemed that his music said perfectly what I had tried to say with my words. It was amazing.

Soon, all of our friends were listening to it. From time to time I'd catch one of them singing it. Rob would play it at parties, and friends would join in. It was so strange, having all these people happily singing this song...sitting and hearing my words - my feelings - echoing from their lips. I really had never envisioned this happening when I gave the lyrics to Rob, and I'm not sure I was comfortable with it.

The culmination came when Rob played a live gig in Chapel Hill, and closed his performance with Into You. I stood there and watched a crowd of total strangers listen to the song and mouth the words; words I had written to express a deeply personal and somewhat painful experience. It was like laying my soul open for everyone to examine and dissect. I felt completely exposed.

In all fairness, others weren't looking at me with the kind of scrutiny I imagined. To most it was a song, nothing more. Later, some insightful friends picked up on the meaning and asked for copies of the words, which I surrendered with little hesitation. It doesn't bother me now to have others read them, and I get a smile out of hearing someone sing it, or request that Rob play it. I guess people find their own meanings in your words, regardless of what they might mean to you, and that's a good thing.

It's funny, but even now there are times when Rob will play Into You, and I'll find myself wanting to leave the room. It takes me back, a little farther back than I care to go sometimes. The words are a place in my past, and Rob's music is the perfect vehicle to take me there. A little too far, a little too fast. For me, perhaps, it's song that's just a little too well written.

note: If this has piqued your curiosity, you can listen to a more recent version of Into You here -->Play


See that job title? Check it out: "Spy". How cool is that? I know, you're probably wondering what it means to be a spy for an international organization like Intrepid Media, huh? Well I'd love to tell you, but I can't. It's all part of the spy game, baby.

more about roger striffler


the new math of david lanz
so much more than the sum of the parts
by roger striffler
topic: music
published: 6.23.00

time and a song
the soundtrack to your life
by roger striffler
topic: music
published: 7.9.07


jael mchenry
7.25.00 @ 9:36a

This is incredibly cool, and takes a lot of guts. There's a huge difference between journal writing and poems/lyrics/anything else other people are allowed to see. Not even allowed -- almost required -- in the public performance arena. You are very lucky, too, that it turned out as well as it did: when I saw a play of mine performed it was a wonderful feeling, but one actress decided to add a new line at the end of the play. Mess with my @#$%)*@#) creative vision, huh? Shoot.

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