“If It Mattered”
Written by Jane Fallon
Interview by Caine O’Rear
What inspired this song?
Words fascinate me. For some reason, I started to muse on the word “matter,” thinking how interesting it is with its different meanings. At the same time, I had been wanting to write a “heartbreak” song, since it is a genre I don’t often write in. That led to additional wordplay, with the contrasting sentiments forming the shape of the song, and one thing led to another.
When did you write it and how long did it take to write?
I wrote this song several years ago, but I am not sure exactly when. Most songs don’t take long for me to write, and usually they just swirl around in my head for a few days. This song was no exception.
Have you written a melody or any music for this song?
Yes, this song has a melody. I have recorded it, and have sung it out often.
How often do you perform live?
I perform frequently both locally, regionally, and nationally. If I don’t have a concert setting, I most likely will be at an open mic trying out new material. So, anywhere from six to 12 times a month.
How long have you been writing songs?
I began writing songs at a very young age. According to my mother, I made up songs to sing to my dolls. However, the first song I remember actually finishing, and that I still have, was written when I was in my teens. I
think I made my first recording of original music when I was in college in the ’70s.
Do you have a songwriting process that you typically
follow? Or does each song come to you in a different
I tend to write melody and lyrics at the same time, usually in my head, words and music playing off of each other. Once a hook takes root, the rest of the song springs from that. When the song is done in its most basic sense, when I have most of the verses, a chorus, and a bridge, I then write it down and take out an instrument, either the guitar or piano, and start to find chords. Through the search for chords, I then refine the melody and edit the words for conciseness and clarity. Often I take the song out to an open mic, or a songwriting group, and edit it again.
Who are some of your favorite songwriters?
I have always admired the composers of the Great American Songbook, especially Cole Porter, Rogers and Hart, and Johnny Mercer. I am drawn to songwriters with lyrical sensibilities like John Prine, Kris Kristofferson, and Jimmy Webb. I grew up with Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon whose ability to combine nuance with pop sensibilities sets quite a high standard. Folk singer- songwriter Dave Carter is also a favorite, as are Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. Other favorites have no names. They wrote the beautiful British and American folksongs I grew up on like “Shenandoah” and “Barbara Allen.”
What are the goals for your songwriting?
Songwriting is just something that is a constant part of me. I can’t imagine being without it. Each time I write a song, the goal is to achieve the purpose I intend for it, whether that is to convey an emotion or commemorate an occasion or tell a story. If I have one long-term goal, it would be to write an “ageless” song in the tradition of the great American writers I admire — a song that would outlive me as a writer and be the kind of song that just becomes part of the eternal music — a song that will be sung until no one knows who ever wrote that song.
Are you part of any kind of songwriting scene in New Hampshire?
Oh, yes, I perform regularly with many songwriters in the greater Boston and southern New Hampshire scene. I attend songwriting groups and retreats throughout New England. It is a part of the country where songwriting flourishes. I have been very fortunate.