Recently, I was watching a video on one of my favorite new bands. They aren’t so new I suppose, but their star is on the rise. I speak of Lake Street Dive. They are a wonderful blend of folk and funk with sparse, yet complex vocal arrangements with a groove that you can sink your teeth into. The video was a songwriting master class wherein the band dissected songs they’d written and talked about the process that led to the finished product. I love peaking into the inner workings of other people’s methods. It helps me to assess the things that I do or don’t do.
One common thing I’ve noticed amongst songwriters is that the process of creating is rarely ever a firm set of events. In my experience, I’ve rarely ever sat down and set about writing a song in a prescribed manner. Like, I wake up and say “this afternoon, when I get home, I’m going to write a song.” It just doesn’t really work that simply for me. Lately, it’s been more like I feel the potential of a song coming on for a couple of days, until, finally, one day, the pressure has built or the idea has gestated long enough to be completely formed; it’s at this time that I have to say, “alright, it’s time to write a song tonight.” I’ll have a beer or relax my brain in some way and then just fiddle with the guitar, playing chords or melodies until something feels right. Usually, around this time, a phrase will take shape based on whichever hook or melody I’ve settled. It’s usually a snowball from that point on. Write a little. Play a little. Take a break. Wash, rinse, and repeat. It’s only now that I’m writing this that I’ve deduced the process, albeit a vague one. The process, for me at least, lies in the editing.
History…perspective…nay…life lies in revision. On Wednesday I waxed poetic on remembering the feelings more than the details of life. I have to be careful about taking a revisionist view of history lest I forget to learn from the mistakes I’ve made. However, there’s something to be said for revising your history or at least the things that hold your focus. Time allows for a change in perspective, and the revising perspective can mean the difference between living in a rut and progressing as a song writer, a lover, and a human. When something isn’t going well, one need only to step back and adjust the perspective to revise the course. If life gets you down, revise your life; use that new found perspective. The latter remains the hardest for me and my love of all things sugar and TV (more on this another time).
So, yes, the process lies in the revision. That great and profound turn of phrase, that beautifully hewn rhyme and meter come from revising and refining until the lump of coal that’s been spewed onto the note pad or computer screen turns into a bright shining diamond (or at least something shiny…even if it is a wet shiny lump of pooh…) I’ll leave you with a parting question: for the creators of things art or whatever…what is your process? Painting in the nude? Bottles of whisky and buckets of paint? For the readers, when did a change in perspective help you to correct a life course?
If you are reading this, you have the distinct pleasure of reading the third boblog in one week which is a bit of a mile stone for me. I set out at the beginning of the week to author three and here it is, the third. I don’t know if I can keep the pace up for the rest of the year but I might try. If this is the first time you’re visiting my site, then please sign up for my mailing list or subscribe to the blog. Find my Facebook page and give me a like if you please or tell just tell a friend! Sheesh…I’m starting to sound needy in my own inner monologue. All those stupid links are on my site…pick your poison. I’m also playing this Saturday night at the John Allison Public House in Greencastle, PA from 9-Midnight! It’s a great place with tasty food. Stop by and say hi to me and Miss Melody and we’ll sing you a song or two.
And now…here’s a video Melody singing with her sister Chelsea out in Portland! Enjoy your Friday!!!!!