Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Hallelujah Land

This was the song that started it all! It has rather inauspicious and humble beginnings. I wrote it in about three hours one late night, and what you hear on the CD is pretty much the way it came out that night.

One evening, after the kids (and my wife) went to bed, I sat up playing through my Rise Up Singing songbook. I was struck at how many Moses songs there were, and at how many of them were not exclusively Jewish. In fact, most of them were not “Jewish” at all, but gospel songs that originated in the days of slavery, such as Let My People Go. And some were modern day folk songs, such as Man Come In To Egypt, by Fred Hellerman (The Weavers) and recorded by Peter, Paul, and Mary.

I was also struck by the melodic beauty of these songs, eloquent in their simplicity. And, of course, the message of tzedek (justice) articulated by the stories of, and the longings for, freedom.

Sometimes a songwriter just needs to be open to the forces around him or her and not try very hard. Sometimes the very act of “trying” or “working” impedes the creative process. Sometimes a song is “received” rather that “written.” I don’t know where the words “Hallelujah Land” came from. I just found myself singing them that night to this ridiculously simple I, IV, V chord progression and four-note melody. The verses just kind of spilled out as I went along. I added the III chord (Em in the key of C) to the latter part of the verse (that’s the songwriter part), which gives it a little “lift.”

No comments: