10 Years On – Why I Still Write Songs

I’m only a month away from my 23rd birthday and it hasn’t escaped my attention that I’ve been writing songs for ten years. The first proper song I wrote was when my beloved cat died the day before my 13th birthday.

That might sound slightly strange or morbid to someone who’s never thought about songwriting before, but to me it made (and still makes) perfect sense.

Songwriting – real songwriting – is about emotion. It’s about expressing how you feel at any given moment in your life. I hear pop songs on the radio that are all about being out in the club and seeing a hot girl…and yes, I suppose in a strange alternative universe, that is some kind of emotion. But for me a song has to have soul. It has to be able to breathe on its own. And most of the pop ‘songs’ that have been released in the last five years lack that entirely. Some other time I’ll go into some contemporary artists that break this trend and write brilliant music.

As a child I was always singing and making up my own songs, but I didn’t start seriously writing songs until I was 13. My 13th birthday to be exact. The day before I turned 13 my cat passed away and I took it hard. She’d been a member of our family longer than I had and I struggled to imagine my life without her around. That evening I sat at the piano and starting expressing everything I was feeling. Over the next few days I wrote a couple of songs for Sylvi (all of which were terrible, by the way) and from there I started writing about different things.Ā And I haven’t stopped since.

Ten years have passed and I know my songwriting skills have improved a lot in that time!! I don’t write songs about dead pets anymore for a start šŸ˜› But I always say that the best thing you can do as a writer of any sort is to write about what you know. And what you feel.

Over the years I have written about everything that moved me – from love lost and love found, to the history of slavery (which I got very worked up about at 14!). I’ve written songs with titles like ‘On My Way’, ‘Lighthouse’, ‘We’re All The Same Inside’ (a very early one there!), ‘Look Me In The Eye’ and ‘Fooling Myself’ – just to name a few!Ā I’ve lost track of how many songs I’ve written in total, but frankly that’s become rather unimportant. I don’t write music for fame or money or just to fill ring-binders with pages. I write because it gives me satisfaction.

Often I’ll be in a situation where I can’t say the things I want to say, so I write about them instead. I can write a song as if I was singing it to a particular person…I get to say everything I wish I could say to their face, without the words ever seeing the light of day.

Writing also helps me (to quote Don Henley) to get down to the heart of the matter. It’s not unusual for me to start writing about a certain situation I’m in, a break up for example, and suddenly words come out of my mouth that I wasn’t expecting. I’ll hear them and think “Okay, wow, I didn’t know I felt that way, but yes! That’s exactly how I feel!!”. The process of writing and singing helps to unlock things in my subconscious that I hadn’t been able to access up to that moment.

During my teens I used to think music was my calling in life. That my destiny was to become a famous singer-songwriter and play my songs to vast stadiums. I used to stand in my room and pretend the hillside out my window was an arena šŸ˜› Things are different now I’m older. I don’t feel that need for fame that I thought I felt at 15. Lesson one: just because you love something more than anything else when you’re a teen doesn’t mean it’s your calling in life!! Songwriting became a part of my identity as I grew up, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. But I realised that success isn’t always measured by how many people know the words to your songs. Success is measured by how much YOU love what you do. And how much joy and satisfaction you get from it. Even if what you do never leaves your bedroom.

So why do I write songs?

Because I love it. Because it is part of who I am. Because it helps me through my life.

And that’s pretty cool šŸ™‚

If you’d like to listen to some of my songs, I have a few uploaded to SoundCloud here:Ā https://soundcloud.com/rose-ottley (the audio quality on most is not great, as I’ve never managed to invest in decent recording equipment).Ā And if you have a particular favourite, please feel free to comment with it here! I write for myself but it’s always a nice bonus when others enjoy my music too šŸ™‚

Movie Review: Operation Petticoat

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If you expecting me to only be reviewing recent films on this blog, you were mistaken! I love old films, often more than recent releases, andĀ Operation Petticoat is no exception!

With the superstar pairing of Cary Grant and Tony Curtis, this 1959 box-office hit is certainly not short on laughs. Set in 1941, during WWII, the film tells the story of Commander Matt Sherman (Grant), whose submarine, USSĀ Sea Tiger, is damaged during an enemy air raid in the Pacific. Sherman is determined to get theĀ Sea Tiger back in shape, but supplies are limited and he initially struggles to see a way forward. Enter Lieutenant Nick Holden (Curtis), who joined the navy to get a rich wife, and his talent for scavenging (and stealing) enables the crew to get the materials they need to get theĀ Seat TigerĀ afloat again.

The fun increases ten-fold when Holden convinces a reluctant Sherman that the sub should evacuate five gorgeous US navy nurses from an island under siege. The crew struggle to concentrate on their duties with attractive women around, while the nurses have to deal with cramped living quarters and finding a place to hang their laundry!Ā Romance blooms too as Holden is attracted to one of the nurses but struggles with the idea of marrying her, while another nurse has a series of clumsy and awkward moments with Commander Sherman.

As the sub heads for the safety of Darwin the laughs continue – my favourite moments include the repainting of theĀ Sea Tiger,Ā the time Sherman tries to fire a torpedo at an enemy ship but one of the nurses accidentally hits the firing button, and the amusing way the crew alert a ship there are women on board…

The issues that arise between the male and female members aboard theĀ Sea TigerĀ enable Cary Grant to show off his talent for comedic timing. The sets for the inside of the sub are wonderfully fake, and it’s enjoyable to watch the actors manoeuvre in small spaces. The script is quick and clever – the writers were nominated for the 1959 Academy Award for Best Story & Screenplay – and, while it’s not your typical war movie, it has a lot of heart and the dynamics between the actors make it well worth the watch.

If you go into this film expecting a realistic portrayalĀ of WWII you will probably be disappointed – althoughĀ several events in the story are inspired by true ones – but if you suspend reality and just enjoy the ride you’ll have a good time.

I love laughs and happy endings so this film ticksĀ the boxes for me.
Go and check it out sometime – I promise it’s good fun! šŸ™‚