Songs, interrupted

I've been reading Kristin Hersh's memoir Rat Girl. In reading about her songwriting process (if that's what you could call it), I started thinking about how I used to write songs. I wasn't dealing with bipolar disorder, but songs did used to be the way I got things out of my system. The songs from the period when I did most of my writing were often angry, defiant, or full of longing, and sometimes all three. Steve Earle once wrote a song called "I Ain't Ever Satisfied," and that's how things were for me in those days. Bad for life, but good for song production.

These days, my writing impulse seems to have shifted to blogs. That's how I get stuff out. No meter and no rhyme! And there isn't nearly the urgency behind it that there used to be when I was writing songs, at least not usually. But I do love to write. I seem not to be able to refrain from writing in some way.

Recently, I actually finished a new song, the first I've written in many years. Well, it's almost finished. It probably needs a bridge, and I am terrible at bridges. I should probably collaborate with someone who is good at writing bridges. But even without the bridge, it's pretty much there.

It's a quiet song, not a band song. I wrote it for me on acoustic guitar, but that's not how most of my songs have been. I learned years ago that I write best in context—in other words, when I have a band to write for. The band would sound a certain way, and I would write for that sound. I would also write for how I wanted the band to sound, which sometimes worked and sometimes didn't. But it was great to hear a song move quickly from one guitar to a complete arrangement. And the band would change the song, of course. It was always an interactive process.

I have more songs in my head, but I need to play with others to make them happen. I really enjoyed the process of writing with my band at Ladies Rock Camp. I like writing lyrics myself, but I love to bang out guitar and bass and drum riffs to see what happens. Jamming, but not endless noodling. Jamming with a purpose. It has always been my dream to be part of creating a true musical collaboration.

We're hoping to make some of that happen before too long. I'm taking only one course next term, not two, so I hope I will have more time for things like playing music. I was jealous last weekend of people who've gotten together with their rock camp bands! But no sense being jealous. Better just to play!

I'm also starting drum lessons today, finally. I don't yet have a kit in the basement practice space. The basement practice space is full of stuff right now. But I am going ahead with lessons anyway. I do have my practice pad, and a lot of what I'll be learning at first will be how to keep a steady beat. Bring on the fundamentals! Maybe I'll finally learn an instrument the right way instead of faking it.

Although I have always liked faking it on guitar.

1 comment:

Anji said...

It's interesting to see how the creative process works in others. Hope you find the time to put it all into practise (sorry about the pun)