Friday, July 07, 2006
I just woke up from a dream, where I was somehow dropped into the setting and plot of a television drama series where relationships build up and fall apart like clockwork, where everyone is beautiful, where style is subconscious, in short, exactly where I would be most uncomfortable.
But at the end it had a scene where a singer performed what had to be the most beautiful and touching song of hope and pain ever composed. I can only remember one piece of the lyrics, and the sounds of the backing instruments, strings played perfectly in synch with the movement of the aging singer's nodding head. The singer, filled with pain like Tom Waits but young and somehow naievely hopeful, holding his guitar like it was the only thing he could touch that would respond to him, and fearing to ever lose it, holds it like a dying friend, so gently that it feels like love, but with the ghost of firmness and desperation lurking behind the the hands and arms.
His eyes are closed, or looking up towards the ceiling and welling with tears. As if by perfect Jonathan Demme direction I see the necks and tips of bows of violins moving along, not as separate instruments played by other people, but as a projection of the sound coming from the singer's aching, longing heart. In a movie with too much flash they would be holographic images springing directly from beams of light.
There is only available light streaming in in irregular waves from the window to a nighttime city.
The pained love song has been done so many times, only because every man who attempted it, from Sam Cooke's brilliance to James Blunt's questionable attempts, has been becauuse we all know we shouldn't attach ourselves to something that will hurt us the way these human entanglements do, but we continue on because to stop would mean to die to the only part of life that really is meaningful, not our considered and refined intellectual assessments, but our unblinking and unavoidable self-knowledge of feelings and emptiness, that compel us to form true connections to others.
As the singer goes into the chorus, singing "I'm not strong enough to love you..", afraid of what will happen, your heart sinks in time to the descending melody. You feel sad, but more deeply than your sadness, you feel that centered and strong feeling of a bowling ball lowering through you to plant you firmly to the ground that you get when you meditate. Self accceptance is willingness to accept pain and loss and realize that it's just another sign that we are conected to others, the most affirming idea there is.
The melody is in my head, but I'm too scared to go over to my guitar and try and reproduce it. I'm not good enough. I am not a songwriter. I can only pluck out the paths blazed by real songwriters, who did the hard work of cutting through the jungle of notes and tones and left a path behind to follow.
And the words are there, but I seem to be only able to talk about them, I'm not brave enough to present them in so bare a form as a set of 4 line verses that tells a story in a way that makes people want to hear it over and over.
What I'm afraid is that if I don't produce this dreamed-about perfect song, that what I do create will not be worth anyone else's time. I'm afraid of presenting the small stories to the world and letting the meaning arise from them in combination, uncontrolled, instead of trying to produce the final meaning myself.
The most beautiful poetry is written about the smallest of objects and the thinnest slices of existence. Not the life of rising hopes and confronting rejection that we all live, but a single moment from a single round on that journey when the force of it all hits us in full.
if the inspiration found you, don't turn away from it.
your own insecurities and doubts are understandable (who doesn't have them?) but unfounded.
Inspiration like this cannot be forced, and when it finds you, you need to jump into the currents of the madness of the moment and see it to completion.
This may be a way to develop your musical talents in a new way and is a gift that you are meant to take.
If the music and lyrics were that beautiful and poignant then you should share it with the world, despite what initial obstacles may be presented.
As for writing the words, rather than just talk about them, the heart of them- the spirit and essence of the song itself- are in you cying to be found.
don't overanalyse. I think that once you set yourself to it, it will come to you.
Maybe what I am describing is simply why I love music and poetry so much, because they achieve with so few words such great meaning. If my mind doesn't speak itself in such terms then that's just how it is, I speak the language I know, I suppose.