I Don’t Have a Muse, I Have A Mind

Songwriting is a fragile endeavour at best.  I hear writers talk about the Muse who somehow whispers in their ear with little love breaths, some speak of a genius that feeds them the creative juices they need.   I think of songwriting as observation, interpretation, and hard work.  In a real sense all songs come easy.  In another sense all songs come really hard.  With me it’s a both/and proposition.

On a good day I might write a usable song.  On a really good day, I have written seven really good songs.  Some songs take about five to fifteen minutes, while others can take one or two months, and I have a few that have taken ten or more years.  There is no rule to this songwriter thing.  Some people can write and some shouldn’t write but do anyway.

I don’t have a muse, I have a mind.  It is a mind trained to observe: people, situations, trends, emotions, actions, and the various stages of the process of what we call, “life.”  My mind is also trained to interpret what I observe.  Combine this training with a natural cynical humor, and an ability to make creative jumps, and you get the style of song I write.

I read songwriting books.  I study with other songwriters.  but mostly I can listen well to others as they express themselves in conversation, in books, in newspapers, on television, and the radio.  There is nothing safe from a song!

I do have a couple of rules concerning songwriting: 1) no whining or whimpering; 2) no preaching of boring pedantic, tedious rhetorical crap; 3) don’t be stupid; 4) do make your audience laugh; 5) do let me feel you are feeling what I am feeling–I don’t care what you feel; and 6) do help me to know that I am not alone in this big, scary, world.

I think the most important thing I do as a songwriter is to write.  I write bad songs, and I keep writing them until I write good songs.  Keep writing, keep writing, and keep writing.  I do not have a muse, but I have a damn fine mind that if I let it do what it does best will never let me down.


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