Just a songwriter

If I had my way, a national songwriter day would be preceeded by a national Day of Silence. No music of any kind allowed. Just to kind of ... make a point.

It's amazing how many people used to take offense when I described myself as "just a songwriter".  It is as as though, in using those words, I was speaking ill of this great profession, demeaning my own passion.

What I meant to say, what I generally mean by that, is that "I am not also a recording artist. I do not regularly tour, and visit radio stations, and do all of that work also."  

I sit at home, in the early morning hours, listening to the clock tick, waiting for the kettle to decisively whistle so that these grounds will become coffee, and a waiting sludge of thoughts, inarticulate intentions and seething memories may begin to take shape as a lyric. Or something else.

The guitar is still safely under wraps. My sweetheart is soundly sleeping. If the lyric is not good, no one will see or hear it, unless I deceive myself into thinking it's good, and write a melody, and then play it for someone.  Just to see. 

I could just as easily say that I am "just a lyricist", if that were true, though it isn't. I'm mainly a lyricist, and though I do write melodies, I love it when I can partner with melodic, musical genius, to relieve me of that additional challenge.  I still tend to think of my own melodies as plain, which isn't always true.

What is true is that I seldom see myself clearly, as others might. Or I see too much else, remember too much, fear too much. I lose focus on the fact that words can move people.  Words can hurt, but they can also help to heal.  They give us the power be fully human and expressive.  I want you. I need you. I miss you. I love to see you. You hurt me. All simple expressions of humanity, with songwriters looking constantly for a richer, more lasting form to say those things.  Something original.

There's magic in it, done right.  Lasting magic. It can be hellishly difficult, it can emerge like a sculpture out of chiselled stone, or it can drop onto your page shocking as a spider off a roof beam.  But there is nothing "mere" about it. 

So ... go ahead. Break your radio. Toss the iPod. Destroy all your speakers.  See how much silence you can stand before you begin to hum something, or whistle, or start to tap out a sloppy paradiddle with your fingers.  Sing nothing that you haven't written yourself. .... Or ... just think about all the music in your life and how somebody wrote that, starting with a blank page, the intimidating static of their own brain, and the urge to say something to the world. 

Cool, isn't it. 


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