A great part of my creative journey has been learning that the less defining my inspiration seems, the better off I am. I know, I know…what the HECK does that mean? Allow me to elucidate with an example.
In a recent writing session with my song writing partner, Jon Rothstein, we started with the knowledge that we needed to shake things up. The previous week we had written a song that felt like slogging through mud and the product at the end of that session was a ‘B’ at best. It was filled with all kinds of tropes that we often lean on and had a chorus that, while catchy, did not kick butt in the way a good chorus should kick butt. In truth, we had not written for a few months and were partially shaking the dust off. On the other hand, since the dust had to go, why not the old ways with it?
We decided to do something we had done once before and that we knew was part of the ‘Nashville method’ of song writing. We started from the title. However, we did not have any titles that felt particularly inspirational to us. There was no “Two Hearts” or “End of the Innocence”, titles that seem to imply the content of the song that would support them. We decided instead to look for the mundane and that is exactly what we found. We ended up with the title “Once or Twice”, a title that feels like something but not something specific. We then had a loose discussion around what that title MAY imply but with no expectation of fulfilling those implications. We then started writing and we quickly found EXACTLY what that title meant for us. In this case, it had to do with wanting recognition professionally, just maybe ‘Once or Twice’.
There is always inspiration around us. The issue is what we are willing to accept as valid inspiration. Is it enough to start from a few innocuous words? Or does inspiration have to be directive and filled with implication? For me, it is more than enough if it inspires a place to start without demanding where we must end up. It allows the field to stay wide open but not so wide that you don’t know how to play within it.
Want to hear the product of that inspiring song-writing session? Click here.