Thursday, June 2, 2011

Sometimes Yagottagetdownonyourknees

I wrote about 20 songs when I was 20, then, with a few exceptions did not write any for 30 years. At this moment, I can't really understand or explain what accounts for the gap.

Actually, it's quite common to go 30 years without writing songs. If you find 1000 people over the age of 30, there are probably at least 991 of them who can say the same thing. What even I am struggling to understand or explain is why I started up again.

This is almost impossible to explain. I used to listen to new songs by people who's music I liked and view them as complete magicians. I never thought I would be able to write a song, even though I had done it when I was too young to realize how challenging it was. Something happened, that was a kind of anti-trauma, that is, an unexpected, accidental event that leaves life changed. . .for the better.  Since this is a blog after all, I might as well use the tools of the medium to tell this story. Click on this video and you'll see what I mean.

And here is Marc playing this song. There are 2 different versions he did on network tv such as this one:

But here's one he did in a more intimate setting at a concert that I really like:

Marc told me once that he had met a lot of people who had done it, and he was convinced that I could have been someone who could have had a recording career. I found that flattering at the time, and thought he was just being a kind friend, since it never occured to me to have that intention. It seemed way too dependent on things I didn't know how to rely on--like megabucks lottery-level luck. But Marc's words also gave me the permission to activate the ability to make music that I apparently either always had, or had steadily developed in the course of singing and playing my son to sleep when he was young, and singing along with the radio for 30 years.  Seeing my name on this song with Marc's really changed something in me. And the songs I held back from being written essentially burst through the dam of being held back all those years. I began waking up hearing melodies, It became familiar to have two or three complete song melody structures come to me in a day. I started recording, refining, rewriting, I started playing piano. I essentially learned how to play piano in three years after playing guitar for 30.

It all seems very mysterious to me. . .how songs come to be, how great it feels to create music, how much of it surprises me even when I'm supposedly the person it is coming from. I don't understand how it is possible. I don't understand why it is so powerful--but it is among the greatest things I know of.  I'm not feeling very articulate about this, but don't mind as much as I might have before I stopped believing in the power of words alone to convey what I mean anyway. What I believe in now is the power of heightened occasion, of harmonics and natural human melodic phrase, of the blend of repetition and emotion and the magic of the repeated hook and friends and rhythm and emotion and incantation and, o.k., words, too.

As I say in the video, "Well, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it." I didn't want the story of "Live Out the String" to swamp what I was trying to share with the music, so I waited until I had enough music behind me that it could be part of what I do. But I think it feels like that time is here, or at lease close enough. Some times ya gotta get down on your knees, especially when you are teaching 2nd grade.

1 comment:

  1. Your time is now, bro! Live our the string! You are a true artist and inspiration. Your a tough act to follow but sometimes I'm up for it! I love you, big brother! Big hug going out to you!