A Q&A With the Sounds Like Summer Lyric Contest Promotion Winner Sara Leibman

“Shade Me In the Summertime” 
Written by Sara Leibman
Interview by American Songwriter

Sara Leibman is the American Songwriter Sounds Like Summer Lyric Contest Promotion winner for her song “Shade Me In the Summertime.” American Songwriter caught up with Sara to get the story behind her summertime lyrics. 

How long have you been songwriting? 

I’ve been writing lyrics for about 15 years. I’m also a visual artist and the same things that inspire me to paint move me to write. 

Why did you enter American Songwriter’s Lyric Contest? 

This may be hard to believe, but I don’t play any instruments, sing (at least in public), or compose music. That means I have to rely on composers and performers to turn my lyrics into music. I entered the quarterly Lyric Contest many years ago and placed second for my song, “Bitter Sun.” That put me in touch with several composers who also subscribed to American Songwriter and gave me more credibility as a lyricist. A half dozen of my songs have been recorded since then and one was released on a brilliant DC area singer/songwriter’s CD (David Massey). I’m hoping this win will open those doors even wider and help match me with songwriters who can (and want to) do everything but the words!

What was the inspiration behind your song, “Shade Me In the Summertime”?

Almost anything can inspire me to write a song. It could be a passage in a novel, a newspaper story, a TV show, or a beautiful tree. This particular song came to me when I was driving around the neighborhood in the late Fall and saw a pair of trees that had lost large patches of leaves while the remaining foliage retained its vibrant colors. To me, they looked like “half-dressed ladies.” The rest of the song progressed from there and turned into a story of changing seasons and growing old together. 

Who are your all-time favorite songwriters and why? 

Although I can love a song with a fantastic tune and stupid words (and vice versa), it’s rare to find the perfect combination of lyrics and music. A few songwriters who manage that consistently and really speak to me are: Tom Petty, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Simon & Garfunkel, Dolly Parton, Leonard Cohen, and Rodney Crowell.

I usually prefer covers of Leonard Cohen and Rodney Crowell songs. Who doesn’t cry when Rufus Wainwright sings “Hallelujah”? And while I give Crowell credit for the best lyric ever (As much as you’ve burned me baby, I should be ashes by now), Emmylou Harris’ version of “Ashes by Now” is flawless. 

Are you planning on releasing any new music anytime soon? 

I’m currently collaborating with someone on composing music for one of my songs, so stay tuned….

What would you tell other artists who are considering entering the contest?

Entering the AS Lyric Contest is super easy so there’s no reason to hold back. It’s an opportunity to meet other songwriters and potentially get your lyrics published. You also could win some really cool prizes. 

Read Sara’s winning lyrics to “Shade Me In the Summertime” below: 

“King of the fields and flowers
Weighed down by an emerald cape
A collar made of roses
Clasped firmly at his nape

Lazy days that last forever
Behind a shimmering screen
He sits there on his lonely throne
Waiting for his queen

Laurel tree or birch and lime
Watch the seasons turn
Shade me in the summertime
Offer winter boughs to burn

Ten even rows of children
Draw with feathers in the air
Deep greens entwined with cobalt
Are twisted in their hair

Lanky limbs are raised in greeting
They ride into the lane
The princess waves her wand
She has just begun her reign

Laurel tree or birch and lime
Watch the seasons turn
Shade me in the summertime
Offer winter boughs to burn

Half-dressed ladies swaying to
The breeze from western lands
Cloaks of gold and yellow hues
Grasped tightly in their hands

Crimson berries stain her lips
As night comes to a close
She lost a slipper dancing home
And shed her satin bows

Laurel tree or birch and lime
Watch the seasons turn
Shade me in the summertime
Offer winter boughs to burn

Silhouettes of grey and black
Against the charcoal sky
Whispers in the icy woods
Echoes for reply

They both wear sparkling diamonds
Though home was swept away
Hand in hand they meet the world
And live another day

Laurel tree or birch and lime
Watch the seasons turn
Shade me in the summertime
Offer winter boughs to burn

Since 1984, American Songwriter’s Lyric Contest has helped aspiring songwriters get noticed and have fun. Enter the 2023 Lyric Contest today before the deadline:

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