In the beginning...did you wake up one day, strum a guitar, and think to yourself…wow, I feel connected—I think I’ll write a song?
Were you six years old? Thirteen? Twenty-five?
Did you write to get the girl—or boy? Was it a specific girl or boy? Or the attention of the masses?
Did you write to discover yourself? To communicate with others?
Did you write to change the world?
I’ve pondered these questions a lot. And for me I think it has something to do with mortality.
For instance, this excerpt from Confessions of a Serial Songwriter:
CHANGING THE WORLD was never my intention. What I always wanted to do was shift the Universe in some small way. We’re all mere mortals. Maybe it’s my own hubris talking, but if I write a song that connects with someone…makes their day a little better...I will feel like I made a difference. Which doesn’t exactly make me any less mortal, but sometimes it makes me feel like I am. Perhaps it’s not a footprint on the moon, but it’s something. Energy is infinite.
So I ask you, am I insecure? I mean, sometimes I look in the mirror to make sure I’m still there. Eeek. I usually am. Ok…I always am. But one day, I won’t be. And it freaks me out to think that the world will go on spinning without me. Not that I want the word to stop spinning. But you get my drift. It's just hard to fathom that one day there‘ll be no reflection in the mirror. :(
Of course we don’t start writing songs because we’re contemplating our mortality. We’re too young. In our minds we didn’t have mortality…yet. We wrote because it was the most natural way to express ourselves, right? It was cathartic. Therapy. That simple.
But for me, the idea of mortality gets more mortal every day. Case in point:
Speaking of The Now though, of course I want to be able to reach out and touch someone whether they remember my song in 20 years or not. When I receive an email or a DM saying, “Girl ... your song totally changed my life,” I literally get a songwriter high.
But what of the future? Is it narcissistic to want to be remembered? I wonder if the more seasoned songwriter feels this way. For that matter, I wonder if this theory has occurred to all makers of art…actors, photographers, playwrights, painters. Does it unconsciously bring us comfort to know that we have the opportunity to leave a lasting piece of ourselves behind? Something to hold our place in hearts and minds?
Are David, Glenn, Prince, Leon, Maurice, Sharon, Leonard, Micheal, George, and Natalie smiling as they look down from above and witness us on the 405 or the 101 or the fill-in-the-blank...blasting their stuff—singing at the top of our lungs—appreciating more than ever, the gifts they’ve bestowed? God, I hope so.
I’m in that car all the time. Sadly, more so this year than others.
I believe that above all else we make art in order to understand ourselves and to be understood. To answer questions we didn’t even realize we had. Yes to get girls, yes to get boys…all of it. And in the process, if we leave behind a legacy...a souvenir or two, what a bonus that a gift can be everlasting!
That said, delay that bonus for as long possible. Take care of yourself. Drink plenty water. Everything in moderation. Exercise. Get out from behind that screen you're looking into right now and go for a walk. Hold the door open for somebody. Read The Untethered Soul (I am).
And in the meantime, only if you so desire, I wish for you to slide into 2017 and create a piece of art that will eventually (but not too soon), leave a unique footprint on the moon…or at the very least cause a noteworthy shift in the universe...for someone.
Go forth. Be brave. Good luck. Write On.
Happy New Year.
Sending a special prayer for the sweet and talented Christina Grimmie (who I worked with), and her mother (who drove her to my house!) There is young. Then there is too young. And there is unfathomably young. She’s up there in good company and I hope they look after her.
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