There are three parts to songwriting. (Of course as I write that I am challenged to keep it to three, so here goes.)
- The music (tune, harmony, instruments, players)
- The words (idea for the song, an image, a story, a title, a chorus that won’t let go.)
- The recording (is the gear ready to go? I just spent 4 weeks trying to get the shock mount for my vocal mic fixed.)
But there’s a whole additional series of sub-texts for actually WRITING the song.
- The emotional idea (something has triggered an idea in your mind, a word, a tune, a memory, a desire)
- The energy to actually do it (oh crap, I’ve only got 10 minutes until the kids get home)
- The courage to write a crappy song (what if it sucks?)
- Some goal for the creation of the song (or why are you writing and recording music anyway?)
And then there are some pieces of the equation that are even more intangible:
- What am I trying to reveal about myself?
- Is this for fun or healing?
- Am I singing to someone?
- Am I performing this song to get something in return?
- Am I full filling something by the creation of this song?
And last, as I am trying to understand, there is the BIGGER vision that pulls us along like a sail on our creative boats.
- Am I creating a project, does it have a vision, a name, an image?
- Do I want to perform this song, as a band, as a singer songwriter?
- Will I get something by creating this song? How can I be loved more? Will this bring me love?
Because where I used to think it was about FAME, I now know it is more about love for me. I don’t really want to have to guard my family from pop-rock predators. And a few years back I learned that I didn’t want to be away from my family without good reason, and that included playing a pop-rock festival in LA.
But I know I (we) seek love. To be seen and acknowledged for the full spectrum of our creativity. And there is a side that thinks that self-promotion is not artistic, or that it is self-centered braggardry. And while there is some substance to that argument (and certainly there are examples of pure hype and self-first celebrity) the harder part is to allow yourself to be seen. To WANT out into that dream of being loved as a muscian, as an artist.
The Artist’s Way talks about the fragility of our creative drive. We have all been told so many times, that “artists don’t make money.” And for many years, maybe even still, my mom is worried about my music and the bad influence of sex and drugs.
But when my daughter is banging away on the RockBand drums and her 6-year-old head is bopping along to the beat, I am proud. And I can assure you SHE is SEEN. And not for a pop star, not for bringing fame and fortune to the family, but as someone who is experiencing their creative self. And she is proud of herself when she gets it right and tireless in the persuit of practice. And then she’s gone from it, for weeks at a time we don’t play RockBand together. But I can still see her head moving to the music.
Like this weekend when we went to a friend’s house concert. And the band was 3 women and 2 guys. And my daughter could not get enough of it. When asked which player she liked the best, she pointed to the a woman who was almost 6 feet tall with long brown hair, plunking away on a huge acoustic bass guitar. And everyone in the band was so HAPPY. When their harmonies soared, so did our hearts. All of us in the room were feeling it, grooving to it, and inside my daughter there was just a little bit of foot tapping that was connected to the understanding that she too could create music.
The other kids in the house ran and invited my daughter to go outside, but she stayed with me. Even a game of Capture the Flag wasn’t enough to pull her away.
That’s the connection.