I’m not an amazing songwriter. But I can make up lyrics. That’s just a thing that I do, and I’m pretty sure anyone else can do it. However, I was asked to write on songwriting. I had this idea to film a time lapse of my songwriting process, but I’m too tired and I don’t have good enough technology to do something so neat and elaborate. So I’ll just write about it. I’m always writing.
On a side note, I am more than halfway through this thing. I have 11 days left. This is the 20th day that I have blogged in a row. Unfortunately, I feel that my writing is starting to get worse, as my eyes grow ever tired.
I very rarely sit down to write a song. Songs just come to me. Last night my heart was bleeding into my soul and I was aching, ever aching, so I picked up my guitar with the goal of playing through some songs. I hoped maybe the music could heal me. Instead, lyrics came to me instantly and I wrote a song. A link to that song is here: From the Outside. Possibly a five minute process. Not every song takes five or ten minutes, but I don’t like to leave things unfinished, so every song is written in one sitting. Sometimes I’ll add a bridge or fix the timing or something later, but the product as a whole is usually one sitting. Editing doesn’t often happen on anything I do, in case you haven’t noticed.
But none of this makes me amazing. I’m not bragging. Because not every song I write is amazing. I’m fully aware that I write a lot of shitty things. I just need everyone else to know that I recognize my imperfections.
I once had a conversation with Kim Walker-Smith (yes, that one) about songwriting. She was telling my friend that no one can write a song in one sitting, in a couple minutes. That when that does happen for anyone, it’s very rare. That was when I learned of my rarity. Because I write every song like that. I write every poem like that. I write every blog like that. I’m an impatient person, so I need to get it all out as quickly as I can.
Since moving to the south, I’m suddenly surrounded by musicians and songwriters. Some of them have tried to tell me what I’m doing wrong. They’ve tried to get technical with music. But I rarely call myself a musician. That’s not what I am. I don’t care if the chords sound good. I don’t fix things. I don’t write music for other people. But if a musician wanted to take my music and my lyrics and add something amazing, I’d be down. That’s just not what I’m searching for. I can play piano. I dabble in guitar. I can hold a beat. That’s all I need for what I do at the moment. It’s really hard to make people understand that.
So I do everything wrong. I’m just wrong. Thank you, and good night.
But really, though. I started to say that I don’t write songs with the intention of writing songs. They just come to me. I think that’s where the best music comes from. I think maybe people who struggle with songwriting might struggle because they’re trying to write a song, they’re trying to find the perfect lyric to fit. If it’s right, it doesn’t have to fit, or maybe it fits already, you just can’t see it.
A lot my songs come when I’m already playing music. I’ll be in between songs, just messing around with chords, and something new will suddenly appear. That’s my favorite.
So I don’t really have a songwriting process. I don’t really have a writing process. I just write. I just am. I simply exist. I’m a writer, not by vocation, but in biology. My genetics force me to pour the words out.
But lately I feel that I’m not allowed to say the things I want to say. People are getting too close to me, and my rough edges, my blunt honesty, my liberal Theology, makes them get too offended. I am just too much. When my friends start reading my blog, I almost can’t handle it anymore, because they assume everything is about them. I don’t mean all of my friends, just the sensitive ones.
Have you ever heard the song “You’re so Vain?”
You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.
I understand why that song was written. Because I know those people. “You’re so vain, you probably think this blog is about you.” And maybe it is. But assuming doesn’t make it so.
I’m in a place. My heart is in a place. And I just want to go home. But I probably want to go home, not because I don’t belong here, or because I feel unaccepted, but because I feel trapped. I was so mad at God because when I got back from Ireland I wanted to move, but I felt trapped in Mammoth. Now I feel trapped here. I can’t go home. Really, we always want what we can’t have. Until I can be satisfied, I’ll always want to be somewhere else. And the only way I’ll ever be satisfied is if I allow myself to just be still. Just be still. Just be still. My heart is never still. Still.