The third category is called Glitter Gel Pen and it lives up to its name in every way. Frivolous, carefree, bouncy, syncopated perfectly to the beat. Glitter Gel Pen lyrics don’t care if you don’t take them seriously because they don’t take themselves seriously. Glitter Gel Pen lyrics are the drunk girl at the party who tells you that you look like an Angel in the bathroom. It’s what we need every once in a while in these fraught times in which we live.
Example: “my ex man brought his new girlfriend; she’s like ‘oh my god’ but I’m just gonna shake and to the fella over there with the hella good hair, won’t you come on over baby we can shake, shake, shake.”
Why did I make these categories, you ask? Because I love doing this thing we are fortunate enough to call a job. Writing songs is my life’s work and my hobby and my never-ending thrill. I am moved beyond words that you, my peers, decided to honor me in this way for work I’d still be doing if I had never been recognized for it.
Lately I’ve been on a joyride down memory lane. I’ve been re-recording my first six albums. When I go through the process of meticulously recreating each element of my past and revisiting songs I wrote when I was 13, 14, and 15, that path leads me right to music row. How my mom would pick me up from school and drive me to my co-writing sessions with dozens of writers (and some of you are in this very room tonight) who 15 years ago decided to give me their time, their wisdom, their belief before anyone thought writing with me was a productive use of an afternoon. I will never forget you, every last one of you.
Part of my re-recording process has included adding songs that never made the original albums, but songs I hated to leave behind. I’ve gone back and recorded a bunch of them for my version of my albums. Fearless, my version, came out last year and as I was choosing songs for it, I came across one I’d written with the Warren brothers when I was 14. I decided to record it as a duet with the brilliant Keith Urban. When I called the the Warrens up to tell them I was cutting our song 17 years after we’d written it, I’ll never forget the first thing they said. “Well, I think that’s the longest hold we’ve ever had.”
In 2011, just over ten years ago, my trusted collaborator and confidant Liz Rose came over to my apartment and I showed her a song I’d been working on. I was going through a rough time (as is the natural state of being 21) and had scribbled down verse after verse after verse, a song that was too long to put on an album. It clocked in at around 10 minutes. We set out editing, trimming, cutting out big sections until it was a reasonable 5 minutes and 30 seconds. It was called “All Too Well.” Last year when I re-recorded my 2012 album Red, I included this 10-minute version with its original verses and extra bridges. I never could’ve imagined when we wrote it that that song would be resurfacing ten years later or that I’d be about to play it for you tonight.
But a song can defy logic or time. A good song transports you to your truest feelings and translates those feelings for you. A good song stays with you even when people or feelings don’t. Writing songs is a calling and getting to call it your career makes you very lucky. You have to be grateful every day for it, and all the people who thought your words might be worth listening to. This town is the school that taught me that.
To be honored by you means more than any genre of my lyrics could ever say.