Saturday, February 9, 2008

life of a song

I’m finally just beginning to record, and I’m listening back to some rough mixes and going through old demos of songs that I am going to be taking into the studio in the next couple months, thinking about the history that they have already developed.

I write songs very slowly. Usually it is a process that takes months and years, because I don’t force anything. Maybe a lyric will come to me as I lay sleepless on some overnight drive, and I’ll start mumbling it over some chords in a backstage room a few thousand miles away. And if I don’t forget it – and memory tends to be my filter – then I’ll form it into a melody as I strum my guitar on a stranger’s floor while waiting to use the shower, and maybe I’ll come up with a melody for a verse too. And then walking along a crowded street in New York, I’ll be way within myself, twisting and turning phrases in my head, pulling them over the chord changes and through the melody, really trying to figure out what I need to say, what I need to get out, and I’ll get frustrated and it will keep me up at night. And then finally I’ll get defeated and decide that I just have to be patient. And somewhere quiet, in a different time zone and different season, sitting at the edge of my bed or waiting for my plane to taxi to the runway, it will all come pouring out over a guitar or a piano or into the middle of a little notebook.

When I clean out old backpacks or look through storage or in drawers in the room I grew up in, I find scraps of paper with lyrics scrawled across them, usually from songs I forgot that I began to write. Usually whatever it was that inspired those words has long escaped me. Usually I cringe.

There have been hundreds and I’ve only really released about a dozen of them. My perspective of myself must be worlds away from your idea of me. That’s not a bad thing, its just reality, and I guess everyone sees and hears everything differently.  I'd hope that you fit yourself into the lines I write, match them to your experiences and concerns and hopes.  As the songwriter, I'm just there to prove that you aren't alone in feeling that way.

These songs I’m getting ready to record now are attached to so many moments, so many states and cities, so many people. There are even parts of a song inspired by tensions that another song had incited. I don’t know if they are any good or not, but I know that I am saying what I want to say, and each track on this record will carry a lot of weight.  I really do wonder what the finished thing will be like.