What it is that makes a song begin and end? I’m not asking this question in terms of songwriting mechanics but in terms of that spot within us from whence the creative spark arises. I have written about this before, but I still have questions, and I still am wondering.
I know that people who speak of their Muse. There are others who write of a Spirit, or of God, or some other deity-like giver-of-creative-thought, and I won’t deny any of these. I have heard this creative process as taping into a Collective Unconscious that consists of all of the minds that have gone on before us, and that now form a pool of information into which we can tap. They all sound pretty good–but which one is it? From whence do our creative ideas and thoughts arise? I want to know, and maybe I can never know.
Old School and some Still School thinking has it that the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures were dictated word-for-word into the writers ears directly from the lips of God. There are some who dispute this. Me! But are we not responsible and accountable for our own thinking? I think this lack of accountability and responsibility might be true of the Muse model as well. I think that the argument, pro-the-Muse, is that the Muse is like a demiurge, a fashioner-but-not-quite-creator, that comes on us like the urge for sex or a bowel movement, or whatever, and causes us to create. In this demiurge process, the demiurge fashions within us a need to create, a desire to make words work, a momentum or flow to make a song, but we still need to get those first and last words, and those words between them onto the page with music. And it seems we have to, someway, do this all by our lonesome. If this is the case, then I could somewhat buy into the Muse Model.
So, back to my question, What makes a song begin and end? There is stuff we songwriters must learn about songwriting to make songs both listenable and singable. These are the mechanics of writing. But I am back to where does the creativity come from in the first place?
Let me put out some tentative suggestions.
I think the naming of our inspirational Source is a matter of personal preference, style, social form, or comfort, but that it is one-and-the-same, regardless of our naming preference. What I do think is that it is to the degree of our own openness that we are creative or not. I know that if I did not shut down the creativity from time to time, I’d get nothing else accomplished. In my own thinking, the first word comes from a flash of insight I get that seems to be triggered by some outside stimulus. There seems to be a connection made between that stimulus and a set of words that connect some dots on some interior puzzle page. The mechanics come later, but this first onslaught of inspiration seems to emanate from a programmed interior thought-set.
My deep, inner, and very personal, sense of humor, pathos, drama, life, death seems to be triggered and words come to me that begin to form lyrics. So I have come to believe that my own creativity, while it may originally be God-Spirit-Muse-Demiurge given, is driven by my own peculiar and personal education, learning experiences throughout my life and my vocabulary of expressions picked up along the way.