There’s something terrifying about writing a tune to Shakespeare’s words, and then sharing it with humans. Shakespeare deserves Mozart. He deserves Morley, Quilter, and Vaughn Williams. He deserves The Beatles in the 60’s. Led Zeppelin in the 70’s. This time around he got stuck with me.
If Shakespeare penned his songs in verse, or in eight beat lines, it would be fine. I wouldn’t have lost any sleep. I imagine him grinning as he transitions from writing a speech with a single feminine ending along with 21 lines of perfect verse, into a song that scans 7 beats, 6 beats, 11 beats, 9 beats. I gather he was picked on by a musician in middle school and remembered while he was writing Lover and His Lass. I know this because Israel Bloodgood (playing Orlando, and obviously using a stage name) commented on my use of a single measure of 5/4 time in each stanza of the song. Upon his observation, I marveled that I hadn’t changed the time signature more often, gave myself a pat on the back, and began brainstorming stage names as strong as Israel Bloodgood. Manly Birdsong. No. Chipper Humswell. Maybe. Keep thinking.
Tonight I’m finishing the final number. I’m wondering if my attempt at rock-n-roll on an acoustic guitar is more or less awkward than my sight-singing finals the first time I tried undergrad. Wow this is coming off much more self-deprecating than I could have ever hoped.
And though my melodies are trite, my songs no more than 3 chords, and my time signatures ever-changing, I acknowledge the beauty of the imperfection. Because I’m not the character Shakespeare wrote into the forest of Arden. Amiens is. And Amiens is a servant to an exiled Duke. He owns nothing but the threads he wore to the party and the guitar he stole on the way out. He’s a man who sings on command, not a savant with a 60-piece orchestra band. He’s a man who loves music, loves to serve, and makes the best of each situation he faces. He plays music and sings because it’s his ticket to a community and a hot meal. He plays music because it feeds his soul, and if someone else can enjoy it, then it becomes something shared. And so, he writes, and he sings, and he loves. And he teaches me. And together, we feast.