A Scary Case of the Jingles

So far, I’ve explained my musical journey up to the point where I selected Nashville as a place to live. You know I want to write songs and break out of my opera mold. I moved to Tennessee in February 2016, and now I have a guitar called George. I’ll catch back up to the story, but I’m due for some musings.

As I’ve begun to dabble in songwriting, I’ve discovered a side effect that has possessed me like an unforgivable disease. This disease I call the “Jingles”.


What are the “Jingles”, you ask? Symptoms of this plague include:

  1. Trying to turn everything you do into a song.
  2. Constantly rhyming words with other words. Birds. Heards. Curds. —-AHHHHHH it’s happening again!!!
  3. Creating voice memos of wordless, melody-less, nonsense.

At best, the Jingles can unleash a creative monster, and lead to the makings of true art. At worst, the Jingles are like babysitting a 10 year old who just drank a 2-liter of caffeinated soda, unsupervised. See manic (adj.) 


I recently discovered that I have 52 [saved] voice memos. Those are just the ones I kept. In this cyber-pile of noise I found some prime examples of the Jingles. By that I mean I found some gawd-awful, incriminating recordings of myself singing complete nonsense. Allow me to embarrass myself by giving you a listen into 4 of the lowest moments on my voice memos…..

Let’s start with this fake country twang:

Then the pathetic “he didn’t text back” song:

Literally too tired to be doing this:

And — the holy $h*# — OUCH, my ears! moment:



Guys, I told you it wasn’t pretty! But that’s what a case of the Jingles will do to you. Blue. Grew. New. AHHH not the rhyming again!!!!!



In addition to the painful noises I just filled your ears with, I was surprised to find there were actually a couple good recordings. With a little work, I could turn out a song or two from bunch! It is reassuring to know that even if some ideas are bad ones, at least they are in motion. As evil and haunting as the Jingles are, they definitely keep the momentum going. Flowing n’ growing. Reaping n’ sewing. Raking n’ mowing. Windy n’ blowing—



Okay, fine, I’ll stop.

Cheers! To hiding behind the computer….because I would never play those clips for anyone in person….







George & The Toolbox

Every year, a dear friend and I get together to talk about New Year’s goals. “Making music” in some form or fashion has been on my list for at least 5 years. Several have passed with nothing to show for it, other than a reserved spot on my next New Year’s list. Facing another year of failure in 2015, I took a long hard look in my metaphorical tool kit.



^^internet toolbox kid looks like a babysitting nightmare…lol

My musical toolkit included:

  1. 10 years of classical vocal training. My hammer & nails.
  2. A basic understanding of piano, at a 6th grade level (Damn 15 year old rebellious Caroline for quitting!)
  3. A performing history including high school theater, pageants, National Anthem gigs, karaoke, etc.
  4. A handful of voice memos in my phone of myself singing or trying out my own melodies.
  5. A little cash money. (Money is always a tool. lol)


If I was going to really make some music, I figured I needed to do what the music makers do. This toolbox needed some help. There is a reason Country Opera isn’t a thing. The piano felt like an old enemy. Karaoke does not count, no matter how many Bud Light’s you’ve had.

I deferred to #5. I bought a guitar.


Meet George. (I didn’t name him, my dad did)


I bought George at a music store in Des Moines, Iowa on a cold, icy day in December. I was nervous to go in the store. I knew nothing, and I hate making eye contact with overly-friendly salespeople. Ugh. I knew what I had to do. Inside the modest store, guitars were hung on the wall and lined a corner section. A sanctuary of rock n’ roll fantasy. The instruments twinkled with fresh varnish. It was dazzling.


I asked for help. Fortunately, the guy was nice, and not scary. He looked like a guy who listened to a lot of classic rock. He wore a newsie hat and had a goatee. He didn’t try to oversell me. We decided on a Breedlove that had a tuner built in and a place to plug a cord for an amp (for when I play on stage of course…#butterflies). I picked up a guitar beginner’s book and a 4-chord song book and went to the register. He threw in some guitar picks…cool. 

I drove home through the snowy Iowa suburbs with my new toys and closed myself in my room. I was a child again. I unzipped the fabric casing and pulled out the shiny piece of musical architecture. My first pickings were soft and calculated as I re-tuned. I felt the depth of tone and thickness of chords as I plinked unrhythmic patterns. As I grew more confident, I unleashed violent strums just to feel the power. It wasn’t pretty, but, damn, it was satisfying.


My fingertips became sore.  I stopped for the day. I looked at George, my missing piece. It was apparent I had a long way to go.

In the days following, I formed calluses on my fingertips and learned how to play a couple 4-chord country tunes. It became clear as I strummed the Southern tunes that I wasn’t ready for the $3000 apartments and endless train commutes of NYC. I wanted to be where the music is. I needed more tools in my toolbox.

I made the announcement to my family and friends– next stop: Nashville.


Me too, Deacon. Me too.

Cheers! To George, ear-splitting chords, and what is to come.