Week 22 – My Wayward State Of Mind

Last week, there was a 2-page spread in The Sunday Times devoted to Generation Ys in Singapore, a generation which I am part of. Now, there are many negative stereotypes associated with us – many of them created by our parents. We are incapable of settling down, unfocused, always job hopping, impatient, can’t take hardship, and so on. There are dozens of articles online about this.

I’m glad, however, that the recent piece I read featured a few Gen Y-ers in Singapore who wanted to live life to the fullest, who worked for passion and not for money, who went off the beaten track. It was quite inspiring to read about their experiences and struggles.

It got me thinking, and I realise that I do know of a few friends who are doing their own thing too. Some of them have started their own businesses, some have left their jobs to pursue further studies, others are taking sabbaticals abroad just for the experience of another culture.

What inspired this week’s song was the sense of restlessness I’m sure many of us feel, especially those who have to choose between their dreams and facing up to the realities of growing up.

My aim was to capture that rebelliousness and desire to be true to oneself, and put them against the nagging pressures society places on you.

The song is titled “My Wayward State of Mind” to show that sense of inconsistency and to add a self-reflecting, sardonic tone to the song. I’m not sure if the message comes through clearly enough, but here goes:

My Wayward State Of Mind
© Music and Lyrics by Marcel Lee Pereira, 1 Oct, 2010

I want to belong and I want to be free
I want to be famous and I want privacy
I want to move forward and I want to stay put
I want to be bad and I want to be good

I want children and I want a life
I want a lover and I want a wife
I want to be brown and I want to be white
I want to surrender and I want to fight

Chorus
I want to be me but I can’t decide
Between the ground and the sky
Part of a generation asking why
Guess it’s my wayward state of mind

I want to whisper and I want to shout
I want to be soft and I want to be loud
I want to build and I want to destroy
I want to laugh and I want to cry

I want to stand up and I want to recline
I want to lose and I want to find
I want to be nice and I want to be rude
I could go on, but I’m not in the mood

Chorus
I want to be me but I can’t decide
Between the ground and the sky
Part of a generation asking why
Guess it’s my wayward state of mind

We are the people who make our own rules
We are the ones who can’t be fooled
We don’t care if it’s wrong or right
It’s our choice, our choice

Week 21 – Your Eyes Have Forgotten How To Smile

This song is about sadness. It’s about that moment when it suddenly dawns upon you, that someone you love dearly is going through a really bad patch. It’s not just a momentary gloominess; it seems to cast a permanent shadow over her, and it won’t go away.

You can tell something is sucking away her joy, enthusiasm and zest for life. She can’t sleep well, she is always tired, and wherever she goes it seems as if the weight of the world is on her shoulders.

It’s frustrating. You don’t understand why she has to be so down all the time. You try to tell her everything will be alright. You do all sorts of things to cheer her up, but success is fleeting and the sadness returns with a vengeance.

Is there something wrong when you look into the eyes of the one you love and realise that they have forgotten how to smile?

Your Eyes Have Forgotten How To Smile
© Music and Lyrics by Marcel Lee Pereira, 25 Sept, 2010

You fell asleep to flee the painful light of day
Avoiding questions you couldn’t answer
God knows how long you’ve stayed that way
A bird with its head tucked under a wing
You sleep in fear that you will never sing

I caught you frowning one sunny afternoon
The only black cloud on a pretty face
Paid a penny for your thoughts
Told you the storm would pass like cars in a race
You gave me a grin, you gave me a grin

Chorus
Suddenly I realised your eyes, your eyes
Have forgotten how to smile
They’ve forgotten how to smile

You have a knack for making yourself sadder
Than an abandoned nest
It’s so cold you can’t stay awake
You line your bed with tears from your heaving chest
Something’s left you with broken wings

Chorus
And now I realise your eyes, your eyes
Have forgotten how to smile
They’ve forgotten how to smile

Bridge
Do you listen to me when I spend
Half an evening trying to tell you
It’s not so bad, it’s alright
Maybe I’m saying something wrong
‘cos we always end up in a fight

Chorus
That’s when I realised your eyes, your eyes
Have forgotten how to smile
They’ve forgotten how to smile

Week 18 – With Both My Hands

There’s a Nigerian proverb that goes: “Hold a true friend with both your hands”. I think it’s a lovely saying, and when I came across it while looking for ideas for my song this week, I knew I just had to write something based on it.

A pair of hands is a very powerful image, don’t you think? They invoke love, support, comfort, friendship, and all sorts of positive things. When you pray over someone, you stretch out both your hands over them.

Carol mentioned this song is a departure from my usual style, and I agree. It’s spiritual, and I make several Christian references in the lyrics. Something I don’t usually do, if you’ve been following my songwriting so far.

I think it’s because Corrinne May’s recent performance rubbed off on me a little. Her spirituality and faith inspired me to write this song, really.

Lyrics below. Comments are welcome!

With Both My Hands
© Music and Lyrics by Marcel Lee Pereira, 3 Sept, 2010

Don’t go anywhere, I’m coming over now
I heard all about it, and I know you’re feeling down
I will be with you in your hour of need
When everything around you has crumbled to your feet

Chorus
With both my hands
I will bless you
For you I will lift them up in prayer
I will hold you
With both my hands
Wash your feet and comb your hair

Sit back for a while, let me do all your  dishes
Put on a comedy, relax in your favourite chair
Start looking forward to building new bridges
Put your worries in heaven’s care

Chorus
With both my hands
I will bless you
For you I will lift them up in prayer
I will hold you
With both my hands
Wash your feet and comb your hair

Bridge
It’s the least I can do
The least I can do
To protect and defend you
With both my hands, with both my hands

Chorus
With both my hands
I will bless you
For you I will lift them up in prayer
I will hold you
With both my hands
Wash your feet and comb your hair

Week 17 – Driving On The Wrong Side Of Life

I had the title for this song “Driving On The Wrong Side Of Life” for ages. Wrote it down somewhere, but never got down to doing anything about it until this week.

After spending a relaxing five days with Carol in Bangkok, I returned home early Saturday morning desperately searching for song ideas for the week, and fortunately stumbled upon this title. It spoke to me because I have been feeling a little out of sorts lately, wondering if I’ve chosen the right path in life.

I love the title because the imagery is easy to grasp – it’s a song about going against the flow, doing your own thing. Inevitably, though, you will have to dodge the oncoming traffic. And that’s how I feel sometimes.

Driving On The Wrong Side Of Life
© Music and Lyrics by Marcel Lee Pereira, 28 Aug, 2010

I see the headlights coming close
So close
I can feel the cars as they whizz past
It’s dark on this winding road
People rushing
To a place that I don’t know

They stare as if I’m crazy
Or high
On air and dreams, and make believe
The way ahead is hazy
Should I
Turn around, go with the flow

Chorus
Look at me, I’ve lost my stride
It’s like I’m driving on the wrong side
Of life
Of life

I wish I had somebody here
Beside me
To show me where I’m supposed to go
No wrong or right, no fears
A friend
Who’ll hold my hand as I carry on

Bridge
Will you take my hand
Will you take the wheel
Sometimes
If I’m lost and blind

***

I was privileged to catch Singaporean singer-songwriter Corrinne May’s concert last night at the Divine Mercy Church in Pasir Ris. It was a free event organised by Cana, The Catholic Centre (the same people behind the 13:34 musical), and the tickets went like hotcakes. A church may seem like an odd place to hold a concert, but it really was the perfect setting – just her and a grand piano, playing her original compositions to a packed hall.

I can’t say that I know many of her songs – I only recognised 2-3 of the numbers she played… songs like “On The Side Of Me” and “Five Loaves and Two Fishes”. Her voice is like a warm, soothing breeze that washes over you and calms your spirit, and I couldn’t help but cling on to her every word.

It was my first time watching her live, and she has completely no airs about her. She chatted to the audience in between songs, fussed over her young daughter Claire, who was seated in the front row, and spoke about her Catholic faith and how it influenced her songwriting. Her songs are indeed moving, powerful, and very spiritual. I’ll just share one of them with you here – it’s about the boy in the Bible who offered what little he had to Jesus.

I feel humbled and inspired to work harder at my craft.

Week 16 – This Little Earth Is All I’ve Got

This Little Earth Is All I've Got

Visit the link and click Like to vote for my song!

This week, I decided to throw my hat into the ring and take part in a nationwide songwriting competition all about going green. It’s called the “Eco Music Challenge” and is organised by the National Environment Agency (NEA), the government body that oversees environmental issues on our sunny island.

Anyway, I was on the fence about this competition because I wasn’t sure I could pull off a “green” song without sounding too cheesy or preachy. Then, I thought, shouldn’t I be challenging myself to write songs about any topic under the sun?

So I did.

This song really is my wish for the planet – that people all over the world will take our environment more seriously, and begin to make changes in their lives. We only have one Earth to call home, and I hope that this will inspire people to be more eco-friendly.

No matter how small the change, it still counts.

I wanted to produce something more than my usual YouTube videos, so I brought out my makeshift (and under-utilised) home recording equipment, and with the Garageband and Cubase LE 4 softwares, I put the song together. I know it’s not the most professional-sounding track, but hey, I tried!

Then, using iMovie, some of my own pictures and others I got from the internet, I did a simple slide show to accompany the song.

So if you dig what I have to say, please click the “Like” button on this link. Lyrics below.

Thanks for the support!

This Little Earth Is All I’ve Got
© Music and Lyrics by Marcel Lee Pereira, 18 Aug, 2010

Verse 1
The world is such a wondrous place
Filled with all my favourite things
Like raindrops falling on my face
And all the beauty nature brings

Verse 2
But I see people doing as they please
Taking what they want, not what they need
Killing the trees, the land and the seas
Breaking my heart as I watch them bleed

Won’t they spare a thought for me?

Chorus
This little Earth is all I’ve got
This little Earth is all I’ve got

Verse 3
I may be on a tiny isle
Or in a city far away
But I will walk that extra mile
I know I have a part to play

Verse 4
I’m gonna change the way I live
For our dear planet so fine
So to my children I can give
A world as wonderful as mine

So come and join me as I sing

Chorus
This little Earth is all we’ve got
This little Earth is all we’ve got

Bridge
What are we waiting for?
From California to Singapore
The time has come to take a stand
While the future is still in our hands

Chorus
This little Earth is all we’ve got
This little Earth is all we’ve got

This little Earth is all I’ve got
This little Earth is all I’ve got

Week 15 – One Minute

The idea for this song came to me completely at random. I chanced upon this video called “You In Five Minutes”, which is a very weird clip that has nothing to do with this song, really. But watch it anyway, it’s quite hilarious.

What actually made me watch it was the title – “You in Five Minutes”. I thought, man, that’s a great title for a song. It could be about, say, listing out all the great things I like about you in five minutes; or perhaps needing just five minutes to decide if I like you or not.

Then I thought, I don’t need five minutes to decide if I like someone – I probably need just a minute to form an impression! What about something called “One Minute”? But instead of it being about me judging someone else, why not put myself in the shoes of the person being judged, and convincing them, in one minute, why they should like me? Something like an elevator pitch of sorts. So, that’s how this song was born.

I love songwriting. You can get inspiration from just about anywhere.

One Minute
© Music and Lyrics by Marcel Lee Pereira, 13 Aug, 2010

A large room, full of unsmiling faces
The sound of my footsteps
Ring louder than a churchbell
Under my jeans my knees are shaking
But I look ’em in the eye and say

I know you’ve had a long day
And I thank you for your time
I have way too much at stake
And I’ve come too far
To let this go to waste

Chorus
So give me one minute
That’s all I need
One minute
And you will take me seriously

I had a crush on a girl in school
We were friends, I hung onto her every word
And till this day she doesn’t know
I wish I had the courage to say

I know you’ve had a long day
Just give me a little time
This may be in bad taste
But I’ve come too far
To let this go to waste

Chorus
So give me one minute
That’s all I need
One minute
And you will take me seriously

Okay I’ll admit it
It’s hard to get a break
Most of us are too willing to walk away
But all I need is 60 seconds
Not an arm or leg
It’s not too much I reckon

Chorus

One minute
What will you do
One minute
To get your message through

Chorus

***

P.S. I’m really looking forward to my performance tomorrow at the Library@Esplanade. It starts at 3.30pm, so do drop by if you can! More details can be found here.