Someone recently posted a comment on this site in reference to the very short piece I wrote about the death of a family member. The commenter said that they are unable to read anything longer than 1/2 a paragraph, and thanked me for writing something they could relate to. I suppose if nothing else, death is the one thing I have in common with every person alive. We do also have life in common, but life can be so difficult to recognize when you possess it.
It is true: this website is intended for old fashioned types of people who are up for reading an eight and a half by eleven sized page worth of single spaced sentences, like a 1980’s book report. For those out there who have only 1/2 paragraph worth of attention span, I write songs.
I would happily write songs with the frequency that I write posts on this site, if only a song were that easy. Songs take more. And what is complicated is that the thing that a song requires in order to be good isn’t necessarily work. (Which is handy for me because I don’t usually have very strong discipline). For a song of mine to be interesting, what it needs is an idea. For me, the best songs arrive as realizations. The words come out of my mouth and into song form in the very moment that I become aware that the words are true. The best examples of this process are with the songs Hey Boy, and True Affection. In both cases, right as I sang the words, it became painfully obvious that: a) the boy would never, ever, ever call me, and b) I was out of her league.
Could I sit down and write a song about something that I already know to be true? I have certainly tried this method. The risk in saying something that you already know, is that the words tend to come out tough and dry like an overworked pie crust. It’s a lot better if I let myself be surprised by what is coming out of my mouth. It’s best if I start out without any idea of where I am headed. The risk associated with this method, however, is that maybe I will end up singing something that I don’t really want to hear. It is a scary process, but I will soldier on, just for you, 1/2 paragraph attention-span reader! (Who has certainly dropped off by this point in my writing.) It requires more effort on my end to boldly go where my brain has never gone before, but it forces me to have a better attention span with myself, and I appreciate that challenge.