Sometimes, there’s a danger inherent with allowing the people around you to know that you are a songwriter. People who do not write songs are usually quite helpless to understand the mysterious process that allows us to create music from nothingness. And that helplessness usually leads to some very entertaining suggestions.
We Are Social Creatures
A close songwriter friend of mine has been enjoying a good deal of “adventure touring” lately, as the “resident artist” with tour groups that often don’t see him performing, but instead acting as something of a celebrity crew member. Many of these trips seem to involve unusual sea voyages, and although he’s not much of a sailor – and even suffers motion sickness easily – his status as a songwriter and recording artist has opened doors for him to join in on many such adventures. The beauty of these trips is the personal engagement with the passengers of the tours, because he is a genuinely social creature.
The danger in this engagement (perhaps “danger” is the wrong word. Let’s use “awkwardness” instead) is that songwriters (and other artists) tend to attract a funny crowd, of people who wish they could be songwriters themselves, and run the gamut from thinking it’s terribly easy, to seeing creation as a perplexing mystery. Perhaps it has something to do with being on an “adventure tour”, but people seem to be inexorably drawn to observe the songwriter and point out great ideas for new songs. Hence the unending chorus of “there’s gotta be a song in that” following every event in the day, big or small. A passenger is sea-sick; the food was cold; a mother and baby dolphin were sighted together; two people are both named “Bill”. Surely these are all great ideas for new songs?
The Songwriter In Its Natural Habitat
Songwriters assuredly do walk through the world with a kind of radar engaged, ready to catch interesting ideas which may one day end up in a song. Every conversation, every observation of the world around us, potentially gives us a feeling that we feel inclined to wrap in a three-minute musical wrapper and place under the Christmas tree. I’ve been told of a Nashville songwriting team who have a habit of observing golden moments together, and each time they are together to experience such an inspiration, they will recognize the one who saw it first, and call out “two weeks” – to give that writer two weeks to come up with the song themself, before any of the co-writers get to take a crack at it.
Follow the Pea
The beauty, however, the real mystery, is that the songwriter usually sees inspiration for a song in the least likely of places, and part of the joy of experiencing a great song is that the rest of us might never have come up with that perspective at all. Like the shell game, with the shells hiding the pea underneath, we just can’t always see what’s going on in the mind of the songwriter, but it’s truly gratifying to see the songs unfold, and this is what feeds the joy in being a fan of a great songwriter.
Please Tip Your Server
I mean absolutely no offense to people who experience these moments in the presence of a songwriter or other artist. It truly is a mysterious act performed by artists when creating art. But if I had a dollar for every time somebody told me “there’s gotta be a song in that”, my tip jar would be overflowing…
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