This was always the hardest part.
What would my brother think when he heard the song I’d written with his lyrics? Even though we’ve been sharing this process on and off now for three years, I still get excited. I still hope he’ll love it. I still feel a little disappointed if there’s no reply the next morning. (He’s a bit of a night owl.)
After two days, I couldn’t wait any longer. I gave him a call.
“Great,” he said. “Loved it.” But there was hesitation in his voice. I could tell he was holding something back… or rather, circling around something big, like an elephant, trying to figure out the best way to tackle it.
Eventually, he told me, straight up, that my interpretation of this particular piece didn’t fit his vision of it. Told me why. Told me what he’d seen as he was writing.
My momentary disappointment was overshadowed by a huge sense of relief and joy at the fact that we’re able to have conversations like this one. I thanked him and reminded him that these conversations are some of the MOST important.
Because I still can’t read minds.
I went back and reworked the piece from the ground up, approaching from a completely different direction. One I’d never thought of. One I’d never considered. Hit “send”. And this morning, I get my prize.
“I loved that,” he wrote. “I totally laughed from my epicenter as that song closed up.”
I’m the child tearing open the gift wrap. I’m the parent watching the child’s look of joy.
I’m one artist collaborating with another. And this one time, instead of feeling insulted by “complaints”, I felt joy as my brother’s heart opened far enough to tell me what he’s truly thinking. We’ve both maintained our artistic integrity by agreeing to go into that uncertain space where “my” ideas and “your” ideas become “our” ideas, and full credit goes to both of us.
The drawbridge was lowered.
I walked across.