Songs

I’ve never had a muse. I’ve always wondered what it might be like to have one.

There’s so much to the creative process I don’t understand. Why two people’s art can look and sound so different, yet be distinctly theirs. Why when you seek to imitate it you feel like a forger and your art like a forgery, no matter how remarkable the result.

I can’t count the number of songs I’ve written and the number of poems I’ve pulled out of my head. I don’t think I’d want to. They come and go in phases and shifts. I could never count on a living as a musician: I simply can’t turn it on like a tap. I can sit at the piano and write fifty different phrases and attach fifty different lyrics to those phrase but they won’t satisfy me. Thirty minutes or two days later I sit down and the first thing I play is magic.

There are so few chords and combinations of notes, really. There are only so many ways to put them together before you run out and have to start recycling.

Sometimes you can want desperately to write about something but find yourself unable to write about it and instead spend a half hour writing about something else when you should be sleeping.

Playing old songs is a challenge. I can never remember exactly how they go. Maybe I’m making them up as I go, again, and I have no way of knowing. Only the few I record I know for certain. The rest are possibly recent.

Isn’t it strange how music can reach out and tweak something inside you that logic and facts and science can never explain, much less themselves touch? I played a song the other day that made me feel sad in a way I haven’t felt for a long time now. It made me feel something. This amazes me.

Thinking back, my former art was a shallow imitation of feeling, a tissue-thin fa├žade less tangible than those things I professed to know and write about. If you had to hear them, I am sorry. If you felt a remarkable kinship for me then, even more so. I should be forgiven, I think, for those songs and the words to those songs. We all should, who wrote like that. We were children. If we had a grasp of irony far in excess of our years, we squandered it on songs we thought were about love. We were obsessed with love and being in love and writing about love and being in love. When you are in the desert you write songs about water. We are adults now and instead of obsessing some of us have moved on and are actually loving and being in love. That’s a much harder thing to write about. There’s almost no way to do it properly.

If I’m being too subtle in my lyrics, I don’t apologise. If you can mine seventeen different meanings or none at all, I couldn’t care less. These songs are for me, not for you. These things are the most intensely selfish things I will ever produce, the most tuned to myself. They can’t help but be. They’re my intellectual and emotional children. That you hear them, some of them, is a raw vulnerability I can’t help but shy away from. This is the singer/songwriter curse, of course. These are not songs written by a group of people in a room. They’re not statements about politics or revolution or technological disorientation. They’re songs that bubble to the surface in privacy, when alone.

I have become too verbose.

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