My Downfall At BMI – Part 2

February 3, 2016

Picking up from last time –

[Edited to add: I’ll return you to your “regularly scheduled programming pretty quickly, but I really don’t think you need a whole 9-part series to tell you what happened. So, I’m leaving it here in case you want. But I barely knew how to talk about it back then. And I still don’t 100% know how to talk about it now…
Basically, I got in with 11 days notice. I was going to commute from California, but I got a new demanding job with no notice. I was working all day every day (and most nights), and I was using weekends to fly back and forth to California to wrap up loose ends out there. And every available moment I had outside of that was used to work on my song. I was giving BMI everything I had. I would say I was burning the candle at both ends, but the candle was just on fire. And I was trying my best.
I drafted and re-drafted and changed the words on the post below like a billion times because what is the diplomatic way to say my composer wouldn’t listen to me at all? As you can see, I tried to find it, but never really did. Outside of working with him, he was a really super nice guy. I totally think people should be friends with him if they can. He’s a very nice human. But he was impossible to work with. It was very much just like he was the “real” musician – and I, the female lyricist, was along for the ride. It was so frustrating to have someone who wouldn’t bend at all – At. All. to anything. Ever. No compromise. Just “this is what we’re doing. This is the song. This is exactly how it goes. Get on board.” “Oh… could we perhaps add one syllable so I can make this joke?” “I hate jokes. That’s not serious enough.” (or something like that, and on and on and on). I’d never worked with anyone before. I’d always written both music and lyrics. So, to me, I just thought this would be my life as a lyricist.
We performed our song to dead silence. It was reviled. Every note we got was something I’d begged and pleaded and begged to be able to do, but there was no budging on any of the things I wanted. It’s embarrassing to get something wrong, but it felt, to me, so much worse to have gotten it right but have the note givers think I was a moron who didn’t understand some very basic concepts that I’d begged for. That was such a reeeeally terrible feeling/day in class.
So, I didn’t give my second composer the benefit of the doubt. I kept putting off our assignment, ’cause I was so tired of fighting from before. It was just like, “We’ll do it when it gets closer. And there will be less time to fight.” But he was lovely! And I found that out super late, which was a real bummer. I missed out on what could’ve been a good experience. And of course, working on it with less than 48 hours to spare, I didn’t have a magical song that was hit out of the park or anything. So, class wasn’t going well. Relationships weren’t going well. And I was exhausted about 100% of the time.
For my third assignment, I was assigned to one of the most brilliant people in the class. She had a tremendous idea and I just helped her fill it in. It went super well. I wasn’t sure if maybe just maybe the class would turn around. But then, I was sexually assaulted by somebody at school. Back then, I didn’t tell anybody. But I did get very agitated and on edge. I stopped sleeping. I started to really have a lot of issues – which of course made things really hard with my fourth assignment partner (and any other human, but of course someone you’re working with closely). Suffice it to say, the song (and collaboration) didn’t go nearly as well as I wanted… I guess it had sort of felt like I was hanging by a ledge, had started by pull myself up, and then sexual assault guy ripped my hand off the ledge… I had such sad false hope that things would turn around, then they got immensely worse very shortly after. And then before I really totally completed my 5th assignment, I was already out of the class. I hated seeing sexual assault guy’s face. I was vomiting in the bathroom during the break one night because of how he had treated me and how sick it was making me. He felt inescapable. It felt like everything there kept going wrong. So, I left.
So, I go into slightly more details through this nine part series (if you’re dying to read), but really that’s the gist and sums it up, I think, pretty well. So, now you know it all already.]

Ah, wouldn’t it be nice to live in that perfection moment forever? I wish I could, but alas, it has passed. Real life is here kicking us in the butt.

The first four weeks were pretty spectacular.

One thing I liked was I was getting to learn about this interesting group of people. And after so many years in LA where I did a ton of TV and not a lot of theater, it was nice to get back to being around a group of sort of “theater kids.” (You know the personality type I’m talking about, :-))

In the two weeks after the lecture, we saw groups perform. I continued to take notes, as I tried to learn names of people in the class (as basically the kind of hushed super non-official ratings of everyone were beginning to happen around the room).

My relationship with my composer was pretty darn contentious. I’m not gonna point fingers or whatever. We just didn’t agree on anything. His style is much different than mine.

I remember once him asking me about something were thinking of doing with our song. And he asked, “When does that happen in a musical theatre song?” I gave him examples from Avenue Q and Book of Mormon. He said, “I don’t want to write Avenue Q or Book of Mormon.” That was the moment I really knew, “Oh, we are not the correct partners for each other.” He’s allowed to have whatever taste he wants. He doesn’t have to like those shows – but for me, those shows are the pinnacle of what I want to do in musical theater.

We just did not agree on anything.

And I’ll pick up with more not agreeing next time.

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?