I released my first album of original songs titled Balance In Life, in February 2020. There are eleven songs on the album.
If I was in my 20’s or 30’s, I would probably be writing songs about love. But being retired in my 60’s, my songwriting is more about my observations and experiences in life, which include social issues songs.
I start with a topic that I have some feelings or opinions about. I keep a list of song topics and ideas, that I add to whenever a TV show, a movie, a conversation, an article I read, or just a personal thought strikes a chord with me.
These ideas sit in a data file, until I take time to work on them. The lyrics can start out as rough thoughts about the topic, or can be specific phrases that have caught my attention, and I feel would make a good lyric in a song.
Sometimes the main lyric of the chorus, are the first lyrics of the song, and I am able to build the song lyrics around that main chorus topic or idea.
Thinking about the songs on the album, I realized there are a few songs that were written about Social Issues.
The Social Issue Songs are – Every Form of Refuge, Giant Shade Trees, Not in My Backyard – NIMBY, and the Occupation Song.
I decided to create a medley of these 4 songs, that were written about social issues, and have posted it on YouTube.
This article is a short commentary on the writing of these songs.
Being born in the baby boomer generation, transitioning from student to adult while it had it’s challenges, our generation seemed to prosper easily with the rising of the economic tide that the baby boomers seem to create.
If you had a job and a small down payment, you could buy a house. Houses tended to go up a lot in value in the 70’s, and many young families sold that home and moved to a larger home, adding to their standard of living.
Looking at young families today living in the greater Vancouver area, it seems to me that it is a lot harder to make a move to a single family home, with house prices being over a $1,000,000.
The young families I see, struggle to get a toe hold in the housing market, while prices continue to move further out of their reach.
Finding a good job is a challenge that we all must face as we go out into the world to make our living. I when I graduated school there wasn’t much preparation or education around “How To Get A Job.” I would hope that more emphasis is placed on the process of getting a job today.
Sometimes people work at good jobs that they don’t like. Or work at jobs they like, but are not paid enough. There are lots of variables to landing a job that fits you and your life.
Apart from what you know, who you know can be a big help. Knowing someone in a company that you would love to work for, who will refer you to the hiring person can be your ticket to being hired.
I think of the job market as a big house with many doors. Each door represents a job. Most doors are closed, but then a door opens for a short time to hire someone, and then it closes again.
This is the background from which I wrote The Occupation Song. It talks about what it is we want from a job – the financial means to raise a family and have a few celebrations.
If a cheap price is the most important thing, we would all be living in tents and riding bicycles. A tent provides us shelter and a bicycle provides us transportation. Neither are very comfortable or practical in the winter, but they are the cheapest solution.
Everyday we access value in products we buy and things that bring us comfort in our standard of living. Life is a constant stream of financial decisions, as we decide to spend our income to create our lifestyle.
As a young business man years ago, I worked evenings and weekends to try and grow my business. Like most people, I wanted a bigger house and a nicer car, and all the nice things of life.
It became the time-money race. How fast can I earn money, to buy the things I want. In my early years, I sometimes became out of balance because of working too much.
There is a point where we all loose our taste for money !
I have seen successful people making lots of money but working 7 days a week, but really wanting a day off. There clearly needs to be a balance in our work, family, and leisure lives.
The song Every Form of Refuge talks about whether it is it better to overwork to have a higher lifestyle with a newer car and bigger house ( and a lot more stress ) or, do we lower our lifestyle and enjoy a better, less stressful, quality of life ?
We each have to answer that question for ourselves, and we’ll make our decisions based on varying degrees on the above question.
We are all individual, with our own set of likes and dislikes. Our society runs or is suppose to run, on the “majority rules”. We vote for our city counsellors, and they are supposed to make decisions that will be good for the majority of the citizens.
But sometimes we feel strongly that a city decision will negatively affect our lives and/or property values. Like having an undesirable business or group of people, live or operate close to your house.
The most common reaction is Not In My Backyard, the acronym being NIMBY. Most people say move it down the street or to the next city. I don’t want it in my backyard.
There is no easy answer to these types of situations. On one hand, everyone needs to live and work somewhere. From the complaining point of view, those person(s) or activity do not need to be close to my house.
The song lyrics use a lot of “ism” words that create a tongue in cheek look at this social issue.
The Giant Shade Trees is about “Paying It Forward”. Some of us will act on that sentiment by giving something to someone who is in need of it. A nice thing to do.
This song is about Paying It Forward over a long period of time, like the next generation forward.
The long time frame takes it to a different level. It is the idea that a generation will plant trees that will take many years to grow, and only the next generation will get to enjoy the shade of those trees.
This is an example of a physical asset that took many years to develop and mature. But we could also think about non-physical assets.
What character traits did your parents consciously instill or try to instill in you ? Did these traits help you in life, and bring you greater success ?
How do you feel about those traits today ? What character traits do you want to pass on, or would like to pass on, to your children or grandchildren.
A thoughtful song about leaving something for the next generation.
Music can be very inspiring, and I have gravitated to music that will inspire me. I know love songs are important, but I feel there are opportunities to write songs that bring attention other issues in our life.
Watch the Social Issues Song Medley of these 4 songs at the link below, or click here.
I hope you enjoy them.
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