I’ll begin this by saying there are a million ways to approach songwriting. But this is not going to be about the technical musical notation aspects of creating a song. I want to discuss the emotion – the experiences inspiring a song’s creation. It seems there is music to cover all the bases when it comes to human emotion, and most of us have specific songs we connect with, some with deep intense feelings reminding us of events in our lives. As songwriters we are much more than entertainers. We truly are ushers of emotion.
There is strong scientific evidence supporting the use of music therapy for mood enhancement and depression/stress relief. For instance, music has been used in hospitals for many diseases such as Alzheimer and cancer patients. A song can be medicine that helps heal your heart and soul. It can pump you up during a workout routine or get you through the morning commute. (Can you imagine a massage therapist playing some thrash metal?)
I’d like to tell you about one such very special song: ‘Come Back to Me’ (by Chasing Oz), born of a collaboration – intense and heartfelt. This song would prove to not just be a labor of love, but therapy that saved me from the edge of destruction.
It ultimately began years ago, starting with a dream I had.
When I was 15, my dad disappeared from the hospital where he was being treated for depressive illness and addiction. His van was found abandoned at a campground in the San Bernardino Mountains where we lived. Everyone in the area searched for him.
One night during this horrific time, I found myself deep in the forest. It was cold, misty, scary. The enormous trees were blowing in the wind. I was lost, searching for the soul that gave me life. I couldn’t find him, I couldn’t sense him anymore. Where had my daddy gone? Why did he abandon me… leave me all alone in this wilderness?
Suddenly, miraculously, I’m in the safety of my childhood home in our dining room looking out across the path to the long driveway. I see him! He is in an enigmatic pitch-black car. He drives up with only God knows who. He gets out and walks down the long and eerie path toward me.
I’m thrilled! I have a flicker of hope. He looks up… I see his eyes (so often gloomy, so lost on another planet). I’ll never forget those eyes … now clear as ever, determined, yet so very sad. He smiles, lifts his strong arm that used to hold me so tight and musters up a slight wave. Is he trying to say goodbye? I want to run to him. I want him to say everything is OK, but he disappears into that never-forgotten ghostly-black car.
I awoke several hours later to find out the body of my father had been discovered at the lonely bottom of a cliff.
Losing my father was so devastating. The dream of him haunted me throughout the years since. I tried writing lyrics, a poem, anything to express the pain, to get it out of my own head. I was unable to create anything to fruition on my own. Perhaps I was just too close. My daddy was special and beautiful. I loved him so much. I had a special, cosmic connection to him that never existed with any other member of my family. We were the odd balls, the bizarre, unique ones. I inherited his brown eyes, special intensity, private nature, his intellect, protectiveness of self. He was a perfectionist. He loved the Lord, and his family. He was the one who taught me to love everyone equally, the homeless, the lost and less fortunate. I will always miss him.
I wanted to be able to get all this out of my heart and head, into something great that would honor him, and also heal, restore me.
Something truly magnificent, almost supernatural happened one day when I experienced the ethereal sounds from a guitar part Randy (Randy Campbell – composer & co-founder of the group Chasing Oz) had started to create. I heard it and felt recognition of the eerie stunning sounds, saw rays of color and felt things I forgot were there. Randy was working on creating a musical representation of a phrase he had overheard during a car ride from his position in the back seat… The phrase “Floating over Manhattan”, from a conversation told by a friend regarding a story of her father surviving the infamous 9-11-2001 destruction of the Twin Towers.
Immediately I found the words coming out of me, and here was the musical vehicle for the dream and the tribute to my father that had been so elusive to me for so many years!
I’m beginning to find peace now that I have been able to tell my story to the world. Every time I perform this song live, I feel like my father can hear me. I often share a special reach out to him at the end, “After a while, Crocodile”.
When I first started singing this I could barely get through the song without weeping, but to be honest, although at first daunting, I am amazed at the deeper connection I experience with the audience. I’m hoping this song from the soul connects in a special way to others who have lost someone special to them.
I am blessed and proud to present to you our song, ‘Come Back to Me’.
You can hear ‘Come Back to Me’ on the Chasing Oz album First and Union
Visit our band site: chasingoz.com