Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Go Fly a Kite

What's up, good people?

Inspiration is a topic that's integral to a multitude of topics, including, but not limited to,.........zzzzzz...

OK, let's try that again! Most of you reading this blog are artists of some sort, right? And art needs electricity, energy, and inspiration to really go BAM! and rip everyone's face off, metaphorically speaking, right? And many times we go to create our art, and there just ain't no inspiration to be found, right?

What to do, what to do? It's like we're waiting to be zapped by lightning, but the sky is as cloudless as...uh, whatever is usually cloudless. Not a storm cloud anywhere, and certainly no high-voltage inspiration ready to strike us like a divine flyswatter.

I was chatting with a client today, and I asked him how his songwriting was going. "Not too good" he said. "I haven't been inspired lately."

This idea popped into my head, and I shared it with him.

Songwriting (or any other creative pursuit) is a skill, and like any other skill, it improves with practice. I've found that while, sure, it's best if a song just tumbles out of your mind, often times it doesn't. Wrestling with it, sweating to hammer it into a framework, yelling, pulling your hair out, calling your mother and whining about how the song is really lousy, reading books on the craft of it, taking walks and talking to yourself to figure out your sound, checking facebook a dozen times, and then finishing sometimes the way it goes for me.

And you know what I've found? Inspiration actually starts to show up. Of course, I want to have a kernel of something I care about in the song, or a topic that means something to me. Suicide (I lost a cousin to it), war, being zany...All of these things matter, but sometimes that doesn't write the song automatically, or guarantee that it'll be easy.

It seems, though, as I create the tune, commit lyrics to the paper, build the drum tracks, dial in the guitar tones...that slowly, but surely, the inspiration starts to gather and crackle in the air.
It's as though the act of me striking out to write a song starts the process of the storm clouds gathering, and I'm building a platform high in the sky that's a lightning rod for genius. It might be a perfectly clear day when I set out building this platform, but as the structure goes in to place, the sky darkens.

If you want to capture that electricity, sometimes ya gotta be like Ben Franklin, and go fly a kite up in that sky! And then it'll find you.

Rock on!

- Josh

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