When writing music or lyrics, I always feel pressure to get it absolutely right the first time around. I guess a part of me has been conditioned to think that if it’s not a flash of inspired greatness, then my creativity just isn’t up to the task and shouldn’t consider myself a songwriter.
Writing sessions for me are nothing like a lightning flash. They’re more like cranking up an old generator one rotation at a time until there’s enough juice going to power things along. This was especially the case while writing for Byron Clarke’s album “Self Inflicted,” (especially on “How The Story Goes.”). I remember now how we sat for hours agonizing over each word, how it fit with imagery of the song, whether the cadence and timing was right and of course whether or not the emotion was genuine.
Below is a 1981 demo of Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones in studio working on Billie Jean. MJ doesn’t have the words yet, he’s just scatting, looking for inspiration between the sounds and inside the groove. And that’s what makes it so cool, he’s working on his creativity in a very non creative, almost academic manner. And that gives me some hope.
More often than not, the force is not strong with me and I need to drag every syllable out of the strange and fuzzy place in my head that my words come from. I can’t book a ticket to that place and just get what I need on a schedule, but listening to one of the greatest creative minds in music (at least in my opinion) do things in much the same way, makes me want to take a trip to my strange and fuzzy word corner.
How are you inspired? Does is strike like a municipal worker or bubble up like a politician’s salary?