Cat not thinking about songwriting
Nobody would be interested in a song about the life of cars
While playing my newest song for my band late at night at the Southwick Inn during break time, I got hit with this familiar question: “Is that song autobiographical?”.....WELL...I couldn't help firing back the old joke shown above.....but, the fact is...they're ALL autobiographical! Or maybe that's an overstatement, but the whole idea of creating art is processing the experiences of our life in a simplified way that makes us (and the listener or viewer) able to understand them. It, in effect, gives us CONTROL over those experiences, whether beautiful or harsh.
Ask yourselves: Why do we play games ? Why do we encourage children to play sports? One answer is: Those games are like extremely simplified life lessons (that don't really hurt, despite our tendency to describe them in life or death terms...yes, Red Sox fans, the whole idea is: we don't REALLY die). Well art is like that, and songwriting, since it involves words...and those words are fit into an evocative musical framework that makes the emotional experience even more striking, is one of the forms most likely for that process to be at least somewhat transparent to an outside observer.
While my pal Devin's question prompted this blog, it might have been kicking around in my subconscious (waiting to be processed into an understandable form) since I saw old friend Al Fuller a couple of weeks ago, since I seem to remember Al being one of the MANY songwriters I know who have been hit during a relationship break with the dreaded barb “This oughta give ya a couple more song ideas, AL!”. I'm pretty sure one of Taylor Swift's boyfriends fired off some variation of this old favorite. And a number of my songwriting friends have had significant others ask/beg/order that they NOT write about the relationship. Well, bad news, significants! The songwriter may make that promise, but they will almost always break it....they HAVE to process life experiences in this way! It's like the Biblical prophet Jeremiah, who wrote:
- Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. …..didn't think I'd be quoting the Old Testament, did ya?
- All that being said, these constructions are ART, they're not reality. When I was teaching the band the chords to “All I Want For Xmas is a Divorce”, and wife Amy burst into the room, shouting, “Did you write that?”....WELL....I HOPED she remembered that. I WAS a little concerned when she said, “That's the best song you EVER wrote”,...and she must have remembered about the art stuff...several Christmases have passed...and I've written several more HORRIBLE songs (wait 'til she hears “Everything I Do and Everything I Say”)...thick skin can be a virtue when dealing with songwriters. I think it was Woody Allen who said, “We try so hard to make things come out perfect in art, 'cause they usually don't come out that way in life”.....just had to get that off my chest.....but that's the whole point, isn't it?