Lessons from the Window Pane
Throughout my life there have been a handful of places that comforted me, that soothed my soul, that made me feel like I was home. Playing in the bunk of my grandfather’s smoky El Dorado camper, smelling the intermingled scent of sweet magnolias and salty sea air in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, or curled up on the couch listening to Ted play and sing, reading over and over in my head, the inscription on the stained glass window…“I am simply sailing ‘round, my life is on the sea. If you should choose to go ashore then say goodbye to me.”
The inspiration for Window Pane was a similar thought, being in a bubble, a place where the outside world cannot spoil the peace and beauty of what is enjoyed on the inside. I was sitting on that same couch in the late Spring of last year, rambling on about this place that I had grown to love so much, the magic, the inspiration that I felt there and how fortunate I was to enjoy moments in “the bubble”, when an idea was born. We would write about that, enjoying the sanctuary of our own little world, but also about what happens when the outside world creeps in.
It was during the process of writing Window Pane that I first learned the importance of suspending expectations and allowing the song to develop on its own terms. As special as that stained glass window became to me, there were unsettling moments when I read those words, similar to the initial feelings I had when I realized the song we were writing was turning into something different. I made the mistake of assuming we must adhere to the original plan in the same way I had assumed the phrase on the window was an undeniable reflection of the man to whom it belonged. I was wrong on both counts.
The song became about the pane of glass that shields us from the elements outside while also allowing in the warmth and light of the sun. What if that glass were to be imbued with memory and one needs only touch it to see/hear/feel all of those memories? The window protects us from the threat of storms, both literal and metaphorical, and stores all the sensory experiences that so often trigger heartfelt recollections of being in our “happy place”.
In the same way that people are so much more than our initial impressions, or the qualities we erroneously assign to them, songs can become much more than we originally planned and it is crucial to see where it will take itself. Perhaps the end product is a full one-eighty from the intention, but if allowed the freedom to speak, the song can tell us much more than we ever expected.
Window Pane from the barn