Kavalier Calm's Crowdsource Inspiration

Hi. I'm Kavalier Calm. I write songs and poems inspired by the people I meet on the internet. Ask, and I’ll write something for you. Really.
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  • I’ve had a number of how questions in my inbox about songwriting lately, so I’ve decided to blog more about #the process and not just post the product. I really want to build a community of listeners and contributors—truly crowdsource inspiration—and maybe blogging more frequently, about the small details of the craft, will encourage a dialogue and give me more fuel.

    Someone asked me how I write my lyrics, so I took a picture of the notebook I’ve been spilling ink on lately. I always write by hand first, and as you can see by the image, it’s chaotic and sloppy. This page began as a song for Princess Zelda, and then my mind took a sharp turn to Princess Peach. Why? Well, when researching Zelda, I read that famous quote in brackets—about storm clouds over Hyrule—and I was thinking about how Zelda wants to protect her people from the coming storm, as if under an umbrella. I fell in love with this concept—and with the opportunity to subtly parody Rihanna—but realized Zelda doesn’t really carry an umbrella. But Princess Peach does. This is still a work in process, but later this week, I plan to post a song about how Peach wants to return the favor to Mario—for all those times he’s saved her—by giving him shelter under her parasol. Of course, this is my plan right now; maybe my brain will take another sharp turn. You can also see that I have a lot of single words. When doing my research I write down a lot of images/references that I want to include. In the second stage, I will turn these single words into whole (potentially rhyming) phrases. Maybe I’ll take a picture of that, too.

    Now my questioner was probably asking about how I write less literally. I’ll say that there’s a certain artistic, passionate side to it that can’t be explained. I don’t know why some days I have to write. I don’t know why some nights I wake up with an idea and can’t go back to sleep until I write it down. That’s magic to me, still, and I am happy with it remaining so. If you are an artist and want to cast spells like that, too, all I can do is encourage bravery and effort. You have to be brave that your work is worthy of sharing and know that every time you share, you will learn something, and be a better sharer the next time. Effort is about actually doing it. I’ve known too many writers (myself included) that spend more time talking about writing than actually writing. Effort means you have to do it every day. I mean every day. The only way to create gems is by sorting them from the rough. I write so much garbage, but I just steamroll through it, believing that the next line could be gold. It’s a probability thing. You can’t know if the next line you write or the 3000th will be truly good, so you just have to keep writing; the more you write, the more you increase your probability of winning. I give myself short, very serious deadlines to ensure my probability stays high. Of course, I share some of my weaker work on this blog; plenty of times I’ve swung, feeling like a hit a home run with you all, only to strike out. There’s only one way to respond to that, though: keep writing. And I will keep writing because I’ve hit enough homers to be thirsty for more. I don’t really want to let the Tumblrverse down with laziness or self-doubt.

    So, friends, do you have any other questions about the process?

    I first got the idea to write a song for Princess Zelda from Meagan Marie, who gave me a list of strong female #gaming characters worthy of devotion (I wrote a song for Lara Croft first). When I was reading the reception section of Zelda’s wiki, I saw that one publication critically called her an “iconically passive female trophy”. I don’t buy this idea one bit. Sure, we rarely get to control her as players, which makes our relationship with her inherently passive; but I don’t think needing Link’s help makes her passive. A good leader knows when she needs help and isn’t afraid to ask for it. In my estimation, Zelda is constantly sacrificing for the people of Hyrule. She deals with threats to her kingdom, generation after generation, with intelligence and humility. I see a strong, independent woman. Why else would the romance between she and Link still be ambiguous after all these years? She doesn’t need a man. It’s just that sometimes, when she’s in a scrap, she needs a hero.

    As with my other #gaming songs, I aimed to write lyrics full of subtle references to games and characters, while remaining generic enough to be engaging for non-gamers. This song is about a princess (Zelda) who is against the arranged marriage set up for her with a bad man (Ganondorf); so she sings about the man of her prophetic dreams (Link), a man who will help her defend her kingdom without trying to control it or her. Fans of the Legend of Zelda series will appreciate the opening guitar riff and the many lyrical references to the games. Strong women will appreciate the sentiment of trying to find a good man who isn’t controlling.

    I devote this song to Meagan Marie for the initial request, and to these blogs with awesome Legend of Zelda content: simply-zelda, zeldagrove, f***yeahlink, f***yeahhyrule, sexandzelda, linksinflatedego, triforceofawesome, legendofzeldaseries, and f***yeahprincesszelda. Thank you, bloggers; your content was instrumental (pun intended) in my songwriting! This song is available for free download here (just put 0 as purchase price), and you can stream it/comment on YouTube here. Enjoy, friends! And if you do, please share my work with others. — Kavalier Calm

         Missing Link

    I don’t want to wed the King of Evil,
    no matter how big his dowry is.
    I don’t need the Triforce of Wisdom
    to know he grants a Death wish.
    Dark clouds billow over me as I dream;
    and I’m waiting for the sun, for my man in green.
    He won’t want to rule over me or my people;
    no, he’ll be our chain mail’s missing link.

    I don’t know why I have to marry that boar;
    father knows I love to wield the Master Sword.
    Maybe I’ll hide as a shiek in some far off land,
    so I don’t have to take that man’s hand.
    And I can hear my hero’s music, his ocarina of time,
    and I can see his blonde hair when I close my eyes.
    He won’t want to rule over me or my people;
    no, he’ll be our chain mail’s missing link.

    Now I might be a Twilight Princess, but that don’t mean I’m weak.
    I just need a hero like every queen before me.
    Oh, we can’t let our world turn dark.
    We need a hero to bring us a spark.

    And I can feel him, our hope, I know he’s near.
    And he’ll help us fight off all of our fears.
    He won’t want to rule over me or my people;
    no, he’ll be our chain mail’s missing link.