Lyric Winner Larry Black Discusses “Parallel Universes”

Videos by American Songwriter

1st Place

“Parallel Universes”

Larry Black

Asheville, NC

Read the winning lyrics here.

What compelled you to enter this song in the lyric contest? 

I had some other lyrics that I planned to enter that I wanted to revise. The deadline came, and I decided to enter this one because it had done well in another competition.

How did this particular song come about?

I had a co-worker tell me that they had seen me, in my Celica, driving down a street in a part of town where I had not been on that day. Occasionally, I will spot someone in a photo that looks like me. And then, there is that classic episode of The Twilight Zone, “Mirror Image,” that transpires in a bus station. All of these examples relate to parallel universes. I have also always had the desire to know what it’s like to be someone else, but still be aware of myself. Who might I have been in different circumstances? For instance, if I had enough gumption to leave my home turf and relocate to Nashville, who knows what might have happened?

Have you written music for this song? If so, how would you describe it?  

I have never learned to write or play music. I do have tunes in my head for some of my lyrics, but not this one. I can imagine it done in a style similar to that of some of the songs from “Dear Evan Hansen.” If you listen really hard- yes, I can hear it- can’t you? Ben Platt is singing it right now.

Have you been inspired by any new artists lately? 

I am always inspired and excited by anyone new I hear that has a unique sound or can awaken something new in me. Billie Eilish is one of the most recent. A year or so ago I heard “Lost On You” by LP on the radio and almost had to pull off the road. Why she didn’t get a Grammy nomination befuddles me. Also, some excellent material passes through Songland. So many talented people out here with the stuff to make it.

How long have you been writing songs? What are the goals for your songwriting?

I was writing poems in high school (graduated 1972) and letting classmates read them. That evolved into lyrics. I started entering contests and had some success. I did well with the Music City Song Festival through the 80’s, even driving to Nashville from Asheville to be part of an infomercial. It never aired and no one received their prizes from that last competition. I never got an explanation. After operating for 10 years or more I guess they tried to get too big, too fast and went belly up. After that, I drifted from lyric writing to photography, another passion, but I didn’t quit. I couldn’t quit. I had a brain aneurysm in 2004 and worried if I could still write lyrics. I was able to write fresh material that got competitive attention. I still want to write the lyrics to a standard that has staying power.

What is your idea of a perfect song?

The perfect song should have well thought out lyrics that compliment the melody, and vice-versa. It should move the listener and make them feel something. You know- like “Louie Louie”. I guess the perfect song is anything that works. You are not always going to know it when you hear it. The standards that immediately pop into my head are “Yesterday” and “You Don’t Know Me.” “What’s Going On?” and “What a Fool Believes.” “At Seventeen” and “Both Sides Now.” I wish I had written “Picasso and Me” by Gretchen Peters. Such a special song but not everyone’s cup of tea. “I Remember (Sky)” by Stephen Sondheim, “And So It Goes” by Billy Joel, and “Easy Evil” by Alan O’Day make my list. Some people prefer instrumentals with no vocals. It’s all a matter of taste and what’s going on in the world at any certain moment.

Enter the American Songwriter Lyric Contest Today!

Who Is Mo Pitney?