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Erin Jordan: Music

Ballad of a Folksinger Waitress

(Erin Jordan)
Taken from RPM Challenge Blog:

"Today I recorded Ballad of a Waitress Folksinger, a song I worked on a little last year and then dumped as an idea. I revamped the music to be more of a folk song than a pop song and rewrote some of the lyrics. I am unbelievably happy with how it turned out. I recorded the vocal and acoustic guitar tracks at the same time on two separate tracks and both turned out great. I really did not want to do too much more to the song, because as the title points out, it is a folk ballad. I did think a banjo would sound great in the song, so I picked up my husband's tenor banjo and started experimenting. This is an instrument that I only minimally know how to play, but I managed to lay down a nice picking part throughout the song that I really like. I did already know how to play G and C, so I just had to figure out a D chord that would work. After laying down the rhythm part I added a banjo solo in the instrumental section. I may add some back up vocals or ask someone else to add some back up vocals - but this song is pretty much finished and I am happy.

While the song is funny, it is also a very personal and gut wrenching song. I used to write a lot of personal and gut wrenching songs, but then I started trying to be entertaining. Nobody wants to rip open a vein for a bunch of drunk people at a bar, or worse yet, a bunch of people starring at their lap tops at a coffee house. No one wants to subject their precious thoughts and feelings (which as a songwriter you hope are universal thoughts and feelings) to a bunch of people who do not care. I really do not care this time though. I am not doing this project for anyone but myself. If other people get anything out of it, that will make me very happy - but I am not trying to entertain anyone this time.

I have been waiting tables off and on since 2001. I have done other things - mundane office work, teaching elementary school music, teaching guitar lessons, working at a call center......but I keep going back to waiting tables because it is the most money and allows me to work less than 40 hours a week, leaving time to actually be a musician. Waiting tables has been my only job (aside from being a musician) for the past four years. The song is about how I was (naively) optimistic about what it takes to "make it" as a musician when I was first starting out. I really thought anyone over the age of 30 who waited tables was a loser - and now here I am- 33 and about to be a mom - and still waiting tables. But I am also still being a musician and have not given up my dream and doing what I find to be personally fulfilling, regardless of my disillusionment and the number of painful reality checks taking this path has subjected me too."
Many years ago, I thought waiting tables was so Bohemian

And I didn’t mind lifting the tray because I truly believed in my heart one day

I would be an indie folk rock superstar

I would drive across the country in my beat up car

Living the life of Woody Guthrie or Jack Kerouac

Then I learned that college towns really suck

You drive for hours out to the country and nobody give a fuck

They’d rather be up in their dorm rooms playing video games

Did Bob Dylan or Joan Baez have to deal with this shit?

When I was 22 I thought waiting tables was so romantic

I was a tragic heroin in a Russian novel

Serving lunch to all the yuppies in their Khaki pants

Who think they need to explain to me that an Arnold Palmer is made of half lemonade and half ice tea

I already knew that - And I’ll tell you another thing that I know

I’m so glad that I’m waiting on you - ‘Cause if I wasn’t waiting on you

I’d probably be sitting next to you in a cubicle of my own

Don’t let me get as bitter as the coffee that I sling

Don’t let me get so bitter that I don’t want to sing

I won’t let myself get bitter - ‘Cause if there is one thing I learned at a restaurant

it’s that you can always add more sugar


Don’t let me get as bitter as the coffee that I sling

Don’t let me get so bitter that I don’t want to sing

I won’t let myself get bitter - ‘Cause if there is one thing

I’ve learned at a restaurant its that separate checks are for people incapable

of elementary level math

Now its been 10 years and no longer consumed by ambition

But I’m gonna write these songs even if no one is listening

I’ve given all my heart and learned a lot along the way

And I’m still mastering the art of balancing this tray

I won’t let myself be bitter as the coffee that I sling

Don’t let me get so bitter that I don’t want to sing

I won’t let myself get bitter - ‘Cause if there is one thing I’ve learned from a restaurant

It’s always add more sugar