Project: Paris Travelogue


Spring, 2015

In search of a way to combine my love of travel and my passion for songwriting, I designed a subscription-based project to coincide with a trip to Paris that I already had planned. Billed as "virtual musical tourism," I invited fans to come along and see Paris through the eyes of a traveling songwriter. Multiple subscription options allowed people to receive a weekly song, photo, postcard, and video dedication.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive; people especially loved the weekly postcards. Participants also cited a desire to travel to Paris themselves and felt that this project aligned with that desire and, to an extent, made them feel as though they were actually there. I communicated individually with participants while the project was happening, adding to the "real time" effect.  

Paris project songs

1. Little Words - Inspired by a situation in a grocery store when my card didn't work and in the heat of the moment I forgot all the French I knew and was unable to communicate. I retreated to my tiny apartment with no food and a newfound fear of speaking, and wrote this song reflecting on how much we rely on something as tenuous and imperfect as words. The descending chords upon which the structure relies reinforces the idea of fundamental uncertainty, of the reliable rug of language being pulled out from under you. 

2. Only Love - This song is more personal in nature, using Paris as a backdrop by invoking its standing as the City of Love. The lyrics speak to those with a tendency to act tough instead of allowing themselves to be vulnerable; its larger message is that love is essential in a world that wants us to fight each other. The insistent four-on-the-floor rhythm imparts a sense of urgency to the message.

3. The Toast Of This Town - Once upon a time in 1889, the Eiffel Tower was reviled by Parisians for being, as our tour guide put it, "too big and wayyyyy too ugly." Today, however, it is arguably the most iconic and beloved manmade structure in the world. I took that idea and wrote a song for anyone feeling similarly criticized, to remind them to stay true to themselves no matter what the haters might say because clearly haters can be wrong sometimes. The Classic American Songbook feel of the melody hearkens back to the days when the Eiffel Tower was still new but beginning to win the hearts of its fellow citizens. 

4. The End - The last song of the project was incredibly difficult to write; so many ideas were fighting for dominance, plus I was struggling with having to leave Paris and all my newfound favorite things and places behind. In the end, I wrote about how what seems like an ending is just the next step on the grand adventure. The melancholy melody conflicts with the wistful optimism of the lyrics, which is exactly what I hoped to achieve.