by Michelle McAfee
Google unheard songs and pages come up promising a glimpse from the vaults of the greats: Hendrix, Prince, Led Zeppelin. How many unheard songs are written for every song that flies? What happens to the ones left behind? We all want to hear those songs. Maybe there is a profound gem hidden in a dusty notebook somewhere that might change our lives. Can you imagine? Hearing songs Prince thought weren’t good enough to share? What if he actually wrote some stupid things? Would it make him less of a Prince?
Somehow, in my twenties, the craziest thing happened. I made a living writing songs. My life was a cliche. Threw my guitar, sleeping bag and dog in the back of my pickup and drove to Nashville. Ran out of money. Got stuck there. Lived in my truck in a campground for three months until I got a job at The Boardwalk Cafe where there was a songwriters night. I was bold. Walked up to a great up-and-coming-at-the-time songwriter and asked if she would write with me. She said yes. That year her publisher, Bluewater Music, signed me.
Ten years and three publishers later I had a 300 song catalog sitting in the vaults. I’m not bragging here. It’s embarrassing. A few of those songs were “demo’d” or recorded. A few of them had radio play or made albums cuts. Most of them were unheard.
In Los Angeles, where I finished out my last songwriting contract, I met another stellar singer/songwriter. She and I share the same birthday and love for songs. She’s an incredible piano player with a stunning voice. At the time I was going through a “wannabe-rock-n-roll-singer” phase. We wrote some potent ballads and deep-themed songs that grooved. I was trying to get a record deal. She was trying to get a cut. For a minute we had a song in the movie Serendipity until Shawn Colvin bumped us. My feeling was, ”well, if we’re gonna get bumped by someone …. ” might as well be the artist who inspired me to be a singer/songwriter.
I don’t know how it happened, but one day I lost track of my friend. At a time when I lost track of me. Los Angeles will do that if you’re not careful. I moved to Oregon and had no idea where she was or what she was doing. That was in 2006.
Two weeks ago I was thumbing through my iTunes library and found some random files of songs I had written in the “magic” years. Images flashed of being twenty-something, successful and full of hutzpah; followed by being dumb, self-defeating and full of delusions. I hit play on a tune I had forgotten about. A song Trina and I wrote in the living room of her apartment in West Hollywood, probably right before we went to have an afternoon latte at Urth Cafe. A song that, as far as I know, has been completely unheard.
Until now. You are lucky. You are one of the few in the world who has ever heard this unheard song. Piano and Vocals by Trina Harmon. Melody and Lyrics by Trina Harmon and yours truly.
Oh, and because of this song, I reconnected with Trina on Facebook (yes, it’s good for something). She’s in Nashville, where I started writing unheard songs.
michelle mcafee 2018