Hack, hew, whittle, whittle, cut, trim, scrape, whittle! I’m finishing up recording for the Southern California Care Collective’s Soundtrack I’ve been working on for the past two years. A few songs are not done–most are, but the ones that aren’t finished, are not because I was too lazy to finish them at the time. Now is the time!
Sometimes it is a word, sometimes it is a whole phrase that needs changing. Sometimes I just throw the whole song out and start again. That’s often easier. Songwriters sometimes seem to cherish every word and phrase and hold them sacred. Not good! Once when I was talking with Ansel Adams and was critiquing one of my prints he said much the same thing about photographers. Loosely quoting him: “Photographers struggle for every small portion of negative space and hate to give up any piece of the image, but sometimes you just have to crop.” So I am cropped.
That is also great advice for songwriters. Let me quote myself: “The words aren’t so precious that a good song can’t do without some of them.” I seem to be doing without quite a few words these days. So I am cropping, whittling, cutting, and trimming. And the songs are getting better.