I want to write a song. I have wanted to write a song for years. I tried writing a song about my Mom when she passed away 8 years ago but I couldn’t find the words. I want to write a love song for my wife, a song that we can sing together and share for the rest of our lives. I’d like to write a song about my son, about what a great kid he is and how we are best friends even before being father and son. Or better yet, I want to write a song for my daughter, a Daddy’s girl song. I want her to finish growing up and have her own song, written only about her, that she can tell her friends her Dad used to sing to her, that she can sing to herself when she is feeling down, that I can sing to her at her wedding. She is 13 now and I am running out of time.
I don’t know why songwriting is so difficult. I can sit here at my keyboard and knock out blog post after blog post about things happening in my life, about humor, about emotions, about happiness and sadness. I can write about these important people in my life, word after word, line after line, paragraph after paragraph. I can write about work and play and life and death. The words emerge easily once I start tapping the keyboard. Driving home from work a blog post idea will pop into my head and I’ll have it “written” before I even park and get out of the car. It seems to come naturally and each day I strive to find something interesting to write about, a post better than the day before, a topic that is meaningful to my readers and to my family and especially to myself.
But I haven’t been able to write a song. I’ve tried… I’ve sat with my guitar and struggled to come up with some basic chord progression and a melody that has some appeal. I’ve tried to get the lyrics to flow through my head, just like the blog posts do now. So far it hasn’t clicked. The inspiration is there but the ability to put it “down on paper” continually eludes me. Maybe it’s because song lyrics tend to have to be rhythmic and mysterious and vague. Maybe it’s because I am trying to write the lyrics and the melody at the same time. Maybe I’m just trying too hard to write that perfect song, to not fail… because the stakes are so high. It’s like, this is my only shot, this is the song that my daughter will take with her into adulthood, or this is the song that my wife and I will sing to each other as we sit in rocking chairs with gray hair and wrinkled skin and reading glasses perched on our noses. Damn, that is a lot of pressure! It has to be right, it’s has to be special, it has to be flawless.
I found this quote from Jackson Browne, my absolute, super-fragilistic, all-time, favorite, hero musician and singer-songwriter.
“Self-discovery in songwriting, bringing something forth that’s instructive to yourself – some of the best songs that you will ever write are the ones where you didn’t have to think about any of that stuff, but nonetheless that’s what’s happening in the song.”
I think what I hear him saying is… don’t try too hard, don’t think too hard about what you are writing, just let the words develop into something magical. Find the inspiration from the events in your life, the relationships, the experiences, both good and bad, then set them aside and let the lyrics appear on the page. Maybe it becomes easier with each song that one writes, just as these blog posts have seemingly become easier to write with each passing day. Maybe I just need to set aside some time, be alone, and try to make it happen.
You know I’m not one for New Years Resolutions. Perhaps finally writing a song should be my New Years resolution for 2011. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be from the heart.