Slice of Life: Making Music/Learning Songs


(This is part of the Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. We write about small moments each and every day for March. You come, too. Write with us.)

Some of you know I play saxophone and write songs for a rock band, Duke Rushmore. We’re in a bit of a quiet spell right now because our lead guitar player has some medical issues that are not yet resolved and our other guitar player has sold his house where we practice (that’s another slice for another day). The other night, we were working on a song that I wrote a few months ago, and which I have shared as a Slice earlier in the year.

The quality of the recording is terrible (our singer used his phone and then had trouble sending the file to me, so he recorded it off the phone with a digital recorder … and that’s never a good thing when you add a second layer of recording — you can hear it in the wavy gravy element of the sound), but you can listening in on how a new song is developing here. We’re still figuring it out, together, making changes and trying out parts. Seeing what work and what doesn’t work. As the writer of this piece, it’s such a powerful experience to be in a room with musicians who are my friends, playing and learning a song that I wrote, and having it slowly come together, section by section.

I left this practice on air, really, and I thought back to where this particular song started months ago, with me on the floor of my bedroom, an empty piece of paper and an acoustic guitar in my lap and some vague notion of lyrics.

Take a listen to Set My Anchor on You

This is a shout-out to my bandmates in Duke Rushmore.

Peace (in the song),


  1. I love this song. Working with others to create something beautiful is indeed, powerful. I’ll be on the lookout for the final version.

  2. I love your reflection on where your song began – on the floor of your bedroom with an empty piece of paper – and the image of song writer – as a form of writing is blazing through my mind…..what a great way to connect to KIDS who are reluctant writers….we’ll be doing some lyrics…song writing with some of mine this week….and I will tell them…again about you. Amazing and inspiring!

  3. What a great song! The layers that you weave together to create amazes me. I have always been in awe of the way musicians can hear and envision the layers marrying together so beautifully. I might be able to write some of the words (some, maybe) but to know how to create the right melody for them, and then to know which instruments to use to support the piece, and all of the other nuances that are in a writer’s head before anything can be recorded is simply amazing. Congratulations to you on what seems like a very successful culmination!!

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