First off, a lot of teachers and writers have embraced the notion of ‘write what you know’. I think that’s a great, important jumping off place but I think a lot of unappreciated magic happens in the re-writing, abandoning and starting fresh and or the editing. I think things get dodgy though when one is more reporting than making. When writing a song and maybe anything there’s a question in the air of am I merely reporting how I feel? Retelling an experience? Or am I coloring it in such a way as to suit that which I wish to express. Also the hope of tapping into some greater general truth doesn’t seem (to me) like a wise thing to go for but the hope is to focus on the subject and the truth will out. I’ve tried writing a play before once or twice and found that what impeded me most was that what I wanted to ‘say’ loomed larger than real, living, breathing characters audiences could relate to…we have to hear the characters not the author. I think this is true of song writing as well. I’m not denigrating first person narrative or decrying songs written based on actual events but I think as songwriters go forth matching words, notions, images to melodies it is important to do so with craft. A careful eye to detail. Plus, often our own personal insights aren’t necessarily shared by a ton of people in the world and probably aren’t all that interesting (maybe not dissimilar from this post ha ha!). Lately I’ve been thinking of memory as faulty, as a tool which suites the current moment, whatever the psyche requires, as opposed to a true, unaltered recollection of events. So some reporting isn’t even necessarily closer to a truth than a conjuring up of words and winds of images. Reporting and remembering helps an artist get closer to their own guts (important work) but I think there has to be a letting go of guided thoughts in order to open the flow of creativity. It took me 5 years to write ‘Inkblot’ because I had a set of images which suited a notion but it was incomplete until the oil spill in the Gulf prompted me to re-address my initial idea. It took an event and an open mind to connect the event to something I had written a long time ago. I kind of hate the term ‘open mind’ because it’s been bludgeoned to death but hey if the shoe fits, wear it! (that one I like because I like cool shoes) So hey keep an open mind to unanticipated connections and the songs will flow.
Have great listens! Catch you on the flipside! -p