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The Vanguard

The Student News Site of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The Vanguard

The Student News Site of Buckingham Browne & Nichols School

The Vanguard

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    Hidden in plain sight

    At age 17, I’m nearing three years as a songwriter: three years worth of lyrics, hooks, scrapped verses, picking patterns, faint pitchy humming, and unfinished ideas packed into 128GB of iPhone storage. As of right now, I have 1,443 voice memos. My notes app is filled to the brim with around 200 songs—I think—I’ve lost count.

    The other day, I was talking with one of my classmates about the sheer amount of music-related content on my phone. Her initial guess was that I had around 20 songs. Her eyes bulged when I told her to add a zero.

    While it did boost my ego to see her absolutely lose it over how much I write, I know that if I were to go back through all 200, I’d probably suffer from so much disgust that I would delete songs until I ended up with the number she guessed. I set a high bar for myself— everything I write, unless it’s pure genius, expires in a week. I’ll write something I love, and then, suddenly, it’s complete garbage.

    But I keep every idea. Why? I don’t really know. Maybe it’s because of my irrational attachment to everything I create. Or maybe it’s because one of my best songs is made up almost entirely of these quick, little thoughts I initially dismissed as garbage.

    According to my phone, the first lyric of this song was written at 7:33 a.m. on November 14, 2022. I remember curling my hair as this lyric came to me: “I’ve proven myself right / a billion times.”

    I do this a lot; I’ll write a quick lyric idea down and then completely forget about it, never returning to it again. That being said, I’m not sure what made this specific scenario different.

    I ended up writing the rest of the first verse in the chorale room during my free block. I was looking out the big window at the sky, which was this almost unnatural shade of turquoise blue. It was a shade that would make you think it was summer, but I knew it was 40 degrees outside. Feeling inspired by the eye-catching view, I wrote the next line: “And the sun’s out in Boston / but it’s below freezing still.”

    As the day went on, lyrics kept popping into my head. I would see something, hear something, or say something and then quickly fumble for either my phone or a pad of paper and pen. I put together a couple of quatrains of lyrics. None of them were connected, at least not yet, but they were all in the same key, so I could eventually string them together. I didn’t quite know what the song was going to be about, but I figured this haphazard mess of my random thoughts might eventually morph into a song with meaning.

    All that was missing was the chorus. This is the part that almost made me scrap the song entirely. Remember how I said I’m hard on myself? Yeah, this was one of those moments. After spending the whole day with this seemingly never-ending flow of creativity, I hit a block. When this happens, I have this not-sohealthy tendency to try to convince myself that I’m not a writer; I’m just lucky. I constantly invent this world in which I’ve been granted some set amount of luck, and somehow, no matter how many songs I’ve written and liked, I will inevitably run out of it.

    A couple days later, I was going through the random lyrics I had scribbled down and saved. Shockingly, I really liked a lot of them. I strung a few together and made three different choruses for the song. Each one was a self-reflection ending with the hook, “I’m hidden in plain sight.”

    I titled the song “Plain Sight,” but I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant. February rolled around and I decided to perform the song at Cabaret, as a friend told me I should. I couldn’t figure out how I would introduce it when I went up to perform, so I just said, “This is about everyone and everything.”

    I keep all of my lyrics because they are each a genuine representation of the thoughts that go through my head, and I save all of them to preserve how I’m feeling in the moment. You never know if a lyric you write now could be the missing piece to a song you write in a month. It may not turn into anything immediately, and that’s okay. While I don’t think any impatient person will ever magically gain patience after reading this, I will say it’s important to trust in time. Your future favorite creation could be hidden in plain sight.

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