Writers always say, when giving writing advice, to try to write every day, without fail. Even if it’s just a paragraph, you should try to write something, even if it’s awful and will never see the light of day. I’m thinking of giving that a try. I should be doing it with songwriting, but maybe if I start with the blog, the songwriting will follow naturally on its own. Maybe.
Today I’m thinking about inspiration. What inspires people? I know that answer is different for everyone, but I’m curious. I find that I am inspired by other people, more often than any other particular thing or setting, or situation. As a musician, I’m inspired by other musicians, who I think are doing great work. My cousin, Alan, for example, is a huge source of inspiration to me. We are close in age, and he is actually living my dream life. I look at him and think, “Wow, he’s doing everything he wants, and probably some things he never even dreamed of before. He’s almost as old as me, and he’s still doing it.” And he’s doing it very well, putting all of his talents to work, not letting them go to waste, as I have been guilty of doing for the past couple of decades. I wonder sometimes, if he ever felt the same fear or self doubt that I feel every time I think about getting back into music. If he did, I wonder how he overcame that. That is something I’d like to ask him someday.
I’m also inspired by some of the local musicians I run into here on the Cape. People who play at O’Shea’s, a place I’ve come to love. There are so many talented musicians here, and there are a few I’d really like to befriend and learn from, and maybe sit in with.
When it comes to songwriting, I’m most inspired by Jim Cuddy, from Blue Rodeo. There is something about his lyrics that I cannot explain. They are simple, but so powerful and moving. And when I say simple, I mean that when I hear them, I think “now why can’t I write something like that? Simple and to the point, but clearly expressing everything he’s trying to get across.” I’ll be driving in the car, listening to a Blue Rodeo tune, or a Jim Cuddy tune, and hear one of those lines and say, “YES!” He touches on common emotions and sentiments, so simply and eloquently. Then when I go home and try to do the same thing, I end up getting frustrated and giving up. It can be maddening. How do these musicians write such beautiful songs? I just don’t get it. I’ve been trying since October, after returning from Newfoundland, to write a song that might possibly come close to expressing my feelings about that place, and I have done nothing but curse and tear pages out of my notebook, crumpling them up and firing them into the wastebasket. Needless to say, songwriting is not something that comes naturally to me. I’m used to keeping my feelings bottled up inside…typical repressed Irish Catholic girl that I am. It’s enough to give me a migraine.
So, this is my struggle for the New Year. To overcome this roadblock, and create something--anything-- that I can play in public without ending up humiliated. To get this stuff out of me, in a creative and maybe even beautiful way, and to once and for all clear the songwriting hurdle and move the hell on.
I’ll be looking for some inspiration.