Fresh Thoughts and Expression

 I am constantly being reminded that it is possible to break out of a musical rut, or a mental one, and to create something that is fresh and powerful and memorable.  There is always that tension:  the desire to observe forms and respect traditions, to create something that is in some sense recognizable as to its genre and its style, and the contrary desire to break out with some work that is wildly creative and unfettered by any sense of normality.  I hear something that takes my breath away, that brings a tear, or triggers a big broad grin -- and I encounter a little voice that says to me:  you see! It IS possible to be creative and fresh.

One of my favourite examples goes back to the video by Paul Simon about the making of the Graceland album, in which he talks about his process.  He says, in that video, that he did not set out to "write hits", and that he was just trying to write songs that he was going to really like and feel satisfied with.  And what he wrote was possibly the greatest music of his career ... or arguably so.

There are other examples who shine for me -- John Prine's great quirky simplicity, Lyle Lovett, Iris DeMent (whose song "My Life" remains one of my all-time favourite examples of writing simple and close-to-the-bone).  I loved the Blue Shadows, and Beth Nielsen Chapman, and Pink's "Perfect", and a South African band called Juluka, and a great many other fine examples of musicians who found their way to a fresh and original place. The sweet thing is, every time I encounter those examples, wherever they are and whomever they may be, in whatever genre, I end up feeling just that bit more liberated, and empowered to take musical or lyrical chances.  But especially, I find that the more ruthless I am about trying to write with my own true voice (and not some oughta-be or wanna-be derivative), and about things that really matter to me, the closer I come to doing fresh work.

Just one of those thoughts that makes me go "hmmmmm".  

cheers all

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