The Voyage

Still Chasin’ Dreams – Part 2



Something has to come first. And for this record, it’s this song – Better Late Than Never. And for this song, it was the music. Actually, I’m a “music first” songwriter and the music comes first for all of my songs. As I mentioned in my first post, music is pretty much constantly rolling around in my mind, so grabbing some of it and making a song out of it is – I won’t say easy – but fairly natural. Lyrics? Not so much. In my next 2 posts I’m going to tell you about the musicians and how the music came together, as well as teach you how to play the song. But first, we’ll talk about the hard part – the lyrics and the story I wanted to tell.

So, I had the music for a song but no lyrics. No title. No ideas.

Then one morning, just waking up, my wife Martha asked how I’d slept. I said something to the effect that I’d fallen asleep and “the next thing I knew it’s now”. And I had the first line of the song, which in my opinion is the hardest line to find, so I felt good about that. A line I’ve used to describe myself for years is that “I’m slow, but I’ll catch up”. A little work and I had the second line and the first verse.

I always thought I’d have so much time 

Next thing I know it’s now 

For far too long I’ve been miles behind 

It’s time to catch up somehow 

That all seemed to work, but it was begging for some answers to a few questions. “So much time” … for what? “Miles behind” what? “It’s time to catch up” to what? It was pretty clear to me that I was writing about my dreams. Dreams I hadn’t allowed myself to even dream anymore. Dreams I thought I’d left behind. Dreams that had certainly passed me by. So, what, exactly, was I trying to say? I had to think about that for just a bit. Actually, more than a bit.

As I said earlier, lyrics don’t come naturally to me. Definitely not easily. But one thing I believe helps me in the process is to focus on what I truly want to say, and let the poetry take care of itself. Sometimes that’s easier than others, but in this case, it was a full-blown exercise in soul searching. I could see a hundred miles away where the lyric was leading, but I wasn’t sure I could honestly go there. I was supposed to be gearing up for retirement, not making a debut record.

Somewhere along the line, a phrase would become the tipping point and find its way into the lyric – “leaving life undone”. The instant that thought crossed my mind; I knew it was the answer. There was really no way I could not do the record. Whether anybody would listen to it was an issue that would need to wait for another day. I had to make a record.

At that point, I was satisfied that simply checking off a bucket list item would be all I’d need. But I soon realized it would take a bit more than that. It would need to be as good as I could possibly make it. That would seem to be self-evident, but really, it’s not. I knew that my dream record would be played by professional musicians. Fortunately, I knew where to start on that front, which is what I’ll tell you about in my next post.

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  1. Jim Hallgren on August 8, 2020 at 3:20 pm

    Love it !

  2. Tammia on August 9, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    I like reading about your writing process, interesting!

    • steveprottsman on August 9, 2020 at 2:42 pm

      Thank you Tammia. I have no illusions of writing as well as you, or your daughter, but this is a lot of fun. I’m glad you enjoy it!

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