When I was a
younger song-writer, I wrote reams and reams of lyrics. I still have all my books downstairs – little ones, big ones, scraps of paper inserted in some – and remember very clearly the sensation of sitting, writing, editing, scribbling, doodling, just filling pages with lots and lots of words.
When I worked retail for my first job, in quiet moments, you would find me ripping open little paper bags and writing lyrics on the inside.
Somewhere in the past 10 years or so, though, I stopped writing lyrics for songs long-form – this coincided with my building out the studio, and my working practice changed. Instead of wood-shedding songs on guitar and paper, I was able to cut a reasonable upfront demo of a track, then listen to it
[a LOT – mostly while driving in the car]
and see what emotions and words the music called forth. The first time I became aware of this totally was writing Open And Here, the lyrics arriving as I pulled into a Starbucks parking lot.
Alongside this shift, I’ve become very much more about creativity in the moment, for example my Live Poetry
[which I haven’t done for a while, but really should get back to 🙂 ]
or the performance of Be Still from the first Good Sponge CD Release Party
a song written in the days leading up to the show. I’ve written and performed at least 5 songs this past year at Common Ground Open Mic which I’ve forgotten, both musically and lyrically
[those that are keepers stick around though, like She Says She’s, which is brewing very nicely]
As I start work on the next record, I’m working on several new tunes, and have arrived at a process somewhere between these two extremes. I’ve been noodling on the guitar, cutting initial demos, seeing what emotion comes through, what words speak to me, and I’m now actually writing lyrics before recording the vocals.
It’s been surprising how this feels to me – it’s a halfway process between young and old me
[maybe because I’m fast forwarding from the Grope days?]
and I’m liking it, though for the first time in a long time, experiencing a little bit of my inner critic’s voice. Something about committing words to paper, I guess. Or maybe because my songs are getting noticed more now, and I’m carrying some weight of audience expectations on my shoulders?
[people seem to like what I write, and find meaning in my words – often that I didn’t hold myself]
Luckily, I’ve been living in my process long enough to know how to put my inner critic on hold long enough for spark to become flame, idea to drive craft to become art.
Who knows, maybe I’ll even post some of the lyrics here as I work them up!