I’ve heard – from people who both teach and live their songwriting – that you have to keep the muscles limber. Just like an athelete who runs a meaningless mile around and around his block, you have to keep the words flowing all the time so that you’re ready to catch the next best thought you have in a butterfly net of carefully trained artistic reflexes.
It sounds like a wonderful idea, except i don’t like writing throwaway songs. I’m certainly capable of it, but i find it a little offensive – all that creative output and effort for something that just takes up space on my list of titles – i don’t want to hear or play it again, let alone pass it off to an unsuspecting audience.
I like to think instead that the more rarified that pen-to-pad impulse becomes, the more remarkable the results. Why wade through daily crap when you can have a monthly gem.
The monthly gem, as it turns out, seems to be a myth when you are a well-fed gainfully employed yuppy. Because, you are complacently waiting for inspiration to hit you, but inspiration typically needs a life event to set it into motion, and you might not be having so much of those, perhaps?
Back to those limber muscles, the value of which i am coming to understand. The trick, you see, is to refuse to write something to be thrownaway. Don’t just write aimless words. Pick a topic with legs. I’ve decided that, for lack of other inspiration, i will write a song about everyone i know. Some of the songs might suck, and they might not even correspond to people who suck. At least Elise will get a break from being the topic. Gina somehow got (apparently) the catchiest song i have written, ever. One of my least favorite people ever got sortof a funky love song. Neither seem to be a coincidence. And, this shit just keeps happening.
Now I’ve got a pile of maybe songs, some about people who really shouldn’t be told they are the topic/target because songs are so much better when they’re a little scandalous so i find i keep telling the truth in them (note to self: stop titling with people’s names). None, though, none with tight enough screws to hold the weight of me and my guitar. So, i am not declaring them done. Simple, no? Every night i come back to the gaggle to polish – write a better line where i can, restart the progression in a different tuning where it might work better. Maybe i can get one to graduate to being a real song, someday.
Working on the new lyrics MYSQL backend i now know fo sho that i have 200 songs (yes, with the help of technology we’ve finally eeked it up from 144). That averages out to 25 a year, but really it’s more like 32 a year for a while, and only a handful this last year and a half. But now i have all these half-formed things circling like little audio-vultures, picking my brain for better ideas.
I bear no promises of audio samples or lyric sneak peeks. Yet. You just have to trust me on this one.