This, The Reason Of Songwriting

The second post of reliving the songs I’ve written or cowritten, first post here. The most powerful song both me and Ina has ever written, ever! I still remember all of the hours we spent writing, recording and arguing about this song. More about this below.

Ina and I are cousins from my dad’s side. One day after the third song I wrote, I met her at my grandma’s house. I played the song and right there and then we began spending more and more time collaborating. She was still in college pursuing her dream of becoming a medical doctor, I was a college drop out waiting to go to school again the next year. Everything was in order for us to collaborate.

During our childhood, we were very close. Ina was born only 1 year younger than me, we went to school at the same time. We were also very close to our grandparents of whom I talked about repeatedly in this blog. She was the pianist and I was the guitarist. We take turns singing but obviously she’s got more talent with her voice, way more than myself.

I can’t remember exactly this particular song’s order in all the songs we wrote but this one is by far the most powerful, satisfying and liberating we’ve ever written. Both of us are raised as Christians, this songs talks about our faith in a way that is deep and personal through our life experiences. We lost our grandfather in 2003, this song was written in 2005 is a culmination of how each of us dealt with it written into words and melody.

Here’s the song with the lyrics below.


My dear one, been waiting for a time like this
To show you how I feel, make my life complete

Sometimes I've let you down, hurt you so many times
But all you do is raise me high

You make me wonderful, you bring the best in me
And I'm thankful for that, yes I'm thankful for that
You bright me up like a star
So many words in my mind, but only this I wanna tell you
That I love you so much, yes I love you so much
You're my dear one
I love you

I love you,
I love you.

As you can read above, the lyrics are not that long but every word is meant with all the love we have in our hearts for our grandfather. He was the rock in our big family, he was there for all of us. We are who we are because of how he influenced our lives. He taught us about all the values of life without talking, he acted. In fact, he rarely talk much but his presence is still strong even after he was gone.

On the third day after he passed away, it was the last day that his body was still in the house before he was buried. Coming from a Batak heritage, it’s customary to hold a feast (party) before a funeral. It’s how we celebrate his life.

The night before, I put shoes into his feet. Right next to the coffin, I laid a mattress to sleep next to him. As morning approaches, I had a dream of him. I didn’t realize he was already gone in the dream. I was walking into our TV room when I walked passed my brother and saw him in the TV room. My mood was not happy and when he saw me, he grabbed his wallet and gave me Rp. 260k. He smiled and said to me, “here, this is for you”. There’s a clock in the room and it’s showing 7-ish AM, after he gave me the money I immediately woke up, I saw the clock where I slept and it’s exactly the same hour and minute like it was in the dream.

There are many interpretations of the dream that I had in my mind over the years. However the interpretations are, 1 thing remained constant. It is the act of giving. That dream encapsulates all of the life I had with him, he never asked for anything, he gives. Even years after he was gone, all of his descendants are living with what he gave materially. The worldly anecdote is not important, the lesson is the giving part.

As I grow older, I learned that giving made me happier than demanding, he understood this and made himself an example to follow.

This song started as a guitar riff I played just because it sounds good. I played with it the whole day and later in the afternoon Ina came to join me. She picked up a pen & paper and I kept playing the riff. The melodies from Ina started to flow. At this point I started playing ideas I had for the chorus. She kept writing words and singing it as I play.

When she finished writing, we immediately started to break down the melodies and lyrics into musical parts. We also settled for the BPM, slow but not that slow because this is a song that is not about sorrow, this is a song about celebration. A celebration of our grandfather’s beautiful life giving us all the values we need for our lives.

As I started recording my guitar plays, I was nervous, at the time we didn’t know yet how powerful the song is for us but we knew this is something special. I made a lot retakes with the rhythm guitar. I’ll talk about the melody for the guitar lead later.

At last, I did right with all the takes, it was Ina’s turn for the vocals. She did it in 1 swoop if I’m not mistaken. I retouched and added a few things. Afterwards, it was time to play the song fo us to listen to it the first time. For context, I had a very good surround sound speakers.

Both of us were silent during the first play. Only after the song was played, without talking we looked at each other and I remembered feeling that emotion that I never felt before. I don’t know what it was, only that I know Ina felt it too. We immediately knew if this song is why we did what we did.

To tell you truth, the only other times I felt that kind of an emotion, that rush of happiness were when I’m 1 week of becoming a dad and when my son was born. It was pure love with an immense dose of happiness. I guess it was also closure for me and Ina. We did right by our grandfather’s standards, we gave him our hearts through that song.

I can’t remember exactly when but I remembered all of the grandchildren sang that song for our grandma when it was Christmas and when my grandma celebrated her birthday at Hotel Kemang with the whole extended Harahap family. The performance from all the grandchildren in Hotel Kemang was amazing. I felt a deep profound joy having the opportunity to perform the song for my grandma and for all of our families to enjoy.

My grandparents’ names are Partomoean Harahap and Rozada Emily Annie Hutasoit. My grandma’s first name Rozada is my son’s second name Jeremia Rozada Moratua Harahap. Rozada means firstborn in Batak. These 3 people are my life’s joy and purpose.

I would love to perform this song again with Ina if opportunity comes. Until then, I’m thinking of recording this song in a newer more modern arrangements. But ideas are cheap, execution is everything, we’ll see. Cheers!