Oh yeah, I’m writing again. Feels good! Feels like it is about time! Feels like fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy! Feels like a song’s coming on! Feels like good sex! I am working out some new ideas that seem like the right way for me to go right now. I’m exploring HonkyTonk more deeply, and finding that my roots are alive and strong.
On my social networking sites there have been questions floating about by people who are wondering how many songs people write a day, how writers go about their business of writing, how to tell if a song is written based on words or melody or groove, how to peddle songs, how to know when a song is completed, and how to write even when the writer has writer’s block. YIKES, but there are a lot of questions out there. My question is, are any of them actually germane to the writing process? I am not sure if I am capable of helping anyone work their way through the songwriting process.
However, I write a blog on stuff that many times is better left unsaid, but said anyway. It reminds me of a high school friend who, every time we get together asks if me and a girl friend I had at the time had sex in high school. I am always evasive and never answer the question, not because I am a prude, or because I did or did not, but simply because it is none of that person’s damned business. I mean, like, what’s up with that question, anyway?
Soooooo, it may be starting to come clear where I am going with this posting about my current writing binge. SEX! Writing songs is like good sex in that the level of achieved intimacy is probably as high as it’s going to get–one would hope.
OK, I am using sex as a metaphor for how I understand my process of writing songs. The process itself is akin to intimacy at a very deep level. I do not write a huge amount of material, the most songs I have written is one year is somewhere around eighty. There have been many years when I have only produced five or so. The songs I write that I consider my finest, are themselves like lover’s caresses, intimate and gentle touches and whispers, more caressed and loved into being, than produced or made up.
I do write many songs on call for others, and many of them are really good songs, but the songs that I write for me, are like special touches from the center of my creativity–no matter how wild and crazy and outrageous the song may be! The intensity is there, and so is the passion. I am writing of the experience of the process, the part of songwriting, that for me, leaves an after-glow, that if I still smoked, I’d lite up.
Think about it, I can break down the process of songwriting into several parts. The first part might be termed inspiration, the initial concept, or it maybe romantically termed the call of the muse, but it is when I experience something akin to what is euphemistically termed the call of nature. Even if I have spent months researching information for the songs material, as I did with “Pittsburgh Steel Outbound,” where I researched Mack Trucks, and the steel mills of Pittsburgh and wrote about an imaginary last load of steel out of the mills of Pittsburgh, and the last long-haul run of a B-61 model Mack Truck. Or, creating a fictitious girl-friend who wore nothing but pink, in the song “Pink Attack!”
I write songs that are forged deeply within my own context, and that are combinations of fact, truth, outright lies, and, as some my claim, products of a psychotic break or two. I write songs that probe emotions, and spiritual movement, many times in very weird ways. I look at systems of thought and offer challenges, that sometimes are show-stoppers. Sometimes not.
I will not let anything get in the way of a song–even me! I have learned that a song is a song and not anything else. A song has its own integrity, inner logic, and way of being. And above all, a song will become what it will become! A song really does have it’s own mind and sense of direction, and I suspect that many times writer’s block is caused from trying to take song ideas where they are not meant to go.
I find it harder for me to begin with simple a melody. People who send me their tracks and want words are mostly out of luck. I usually begin with lyrics, and then move to the melody-line. However, there are many times when they seem to materialize simultaneously. I really do not understand the process of creativity. I do not understand my mind when it is doing this songwriting thing, but I am grateful for it, and I think the process is simply delicious in a very erotic way. Ergo my title.