Where to begin…
I am not a writer, but I play one…in real life. I love to write and aspire to do it one day for fun and profit, but everyone has to start somewhere. My affinity for the written word lies somewhere in its ability to transform reality and transport the reader/writer/listener to another place, another time, another universe perhaps. I am inspired and mystified by writers like Nabokov who possessed the skill to describe an atrocious, unscrupulous idea in a way that portrayed it as sublime and ethereal or Bukowski who could take the beautiful and sublime and turn it into something base and vulgar just by choosing the appropriate words.
As much as I enjoy writing, I have always found that the most difficult step is getting started. I can complete infinite middles and endings, but beginnings seem to stump me. When I decided to chronicle this songwriting journey that I have embarked on, once again I struggled with where to start. Of course, there is the standard “start at the beginning” plan, though standard has never been my forte. I will get around to the beginning eventually, but for now I will simply introduce myself as a neophyte to the world of songwriting. Over the last year, I have had the good fortune of being able to learn from Ted Murray Jones, an exceptionally talented writer and musician and participate in a first-hand observation of the writing and recording process as he completed his latest album, The Road Home. It is my desire to share with anyone interested the lessons I am learning that relate not only to the skill and technique of songwriting, but to life and the creative process.
I am going to start somewhere in the middle with a question I have been asked frequently by non-writers and experienced individual writers who are unfamiliar with the co-writing experience, “How does that work?”. After over a year and six songs that I am really proud of, my answer is still “I don’t really know”. It just works. Each time we begin a new song, I am perplexed about how to begin. I feel no more prepared or knowledgable than I did at the start of all the prior songs we’ve written. I suppose I imagined that there was some logical formula that songwriters used to put all the pieces together, but (at least for us) there isn’t. I think not knowing where to start is one of the things I love the most. Every song is a new adventure and we never know where it will lead. Maybe one will start with a great chorus, another will be completed only after writing the fourth line of the second stanza. I have learned to enjoy that evolutionary process and accept that the important part is not where to begin or knowing where we will end, but taking that first step believing it will come together in the perfect way.