I picked up the guitar last evening (after ages!) and strummed and hummed a bit.
The thing is, once you have a blog and four and twenty followers (thank you guys), and are trying to write seriously, ‘na-naaa-na–na’…doesn’t hack it as very lyrical content, however soulful the intonation.
Last night’s song writing process – snatching words out of thin air
I’ve read that certain artists like Paul McCartney do the melody part first and then stick in the lyrics. Dylan does it the other way around, and writes the words first (he says as much in this great interview, a must watch for any Dylan enthusiast).
I always thought I belonged to the Dylan school, but last night I saw a lot of merit in switching camps.
This is what I wrote last night, and replaced the na–na-naa with:
Ah! if time could go backwards, then we’d see, we were tethered to the weeds, the likes of you and me.
Ah! the pieces of that broken jamboree, knee deep in the givin’ green, lives slippin’ between.
Cold hard livin’, broken songs at seventeen, I have seen.
Cold hard living, dream for me.
Ah! praise for all the kings and the has-beens, ah the things that they have seen, shining through in reams.
And here’s the song, with the lyrics above.
Intelligence, intuition…and good old fashioned luck!
I Just wanted to point out certain groups of words that came about simply because I was trying to be loyal to the meter of the humming.
‘tethered to the weeds’ was one such group, ‘broken jamboree’ was another and so was ‘kings and the has-beens’.
The image of being tethered to weeds, or that of a broken jamboree gave me a kick once I had them down. They seemed vivid and allegorical and I could not have come to them any other way.
When I snatched ‘broken jamboree’ out of thin air (it just happened to pop into my head, no reason) and appended it to the previous line, about ‘lives slipping between’, it took the song in a direction I was not planning, but one that inflamed my brain and gave me a head rush.
When Cat Stevens wrote, ‘When you crack the sky, scrapers fill the air, Will you keep on building higher, till there’s no more room up there?’ from the beautiful ‘Where do the Children Play?’, my feeling (purely conjecture) is he may have arrived at the vivid phrase ‘crack the sky’ this way.
Any artistic process is doing a balancing act between intelligence and intuition says Michael Tilson Thomas in this AMAZING talk on Music and Emotion through Time(below).
I think chance is a very important third component.