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January 7, 2011 / John Sieger

My Misspent Youth

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My mandolin, which is very old and kinda cheapish, has a medical history as long as your arm. It’s in a state of unplayable collapse and I get sentimental when I hear it on this waltz I wrote with Michael Feldman a while back. (Can I start calling him Mike pretty soon? I don’t co-write with a lot of people and he’s the only one named Mike.) The topic is misspent youth and mine may or may not have been. I’m a terrible judge of people like myself. So I don’t pine for the old days — they all seem like tests when they’re happening and frolics when you remember them. There’s no future in the past! I like this song for a few reasons. It has a couple great ones from Mike, like “I’ll make my bed, but I won’t lie” and the ‘sleuth-youth’ rhyme. Again I’ll say it, I can’t come up with stuff like that! For you music majors, I put a surprise ‘II’ major chord on the first repeat of every title line. It feels odd, like it’s heading off in the wrong direction, before it resolves on the second repeat. I like to stress a few basics to songwriters I work with — one of them is that a song must try to balance predictability and surprise, too much one way or the other and listeners just check out. Boring or irritating, no one seems to be looking for that. I hope you stick around to the end of this one and like it.


© 2011 John Sieger/Michael Feldman


One Comment

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  1. dave standridge / Jan 7 2011 5:10 pm

    That structure gives a hint that there must have been a dark alley or two ventured down in the time of the teller’s youth. Makes a person want to know the rest of the story.

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