Right now I’m listening to Guy Clark’s “The Cape.“ There are things people create that simply give and give. Finished creations that are founts. That’s what “The Cape,” is for me.
Of course, what’s a fount for me, may not be a fount for you. And quite often, it’s hard for a creator to know they’ve created one. My friend wrote a song that’s a fount for me, and so far as I know, he rarely plays it. (There’s at least one song of mine he feels the same way about. I haven’t played it since I relearned it for his birthday a few years ago). Founts can be that way, embarrassing for the creator. Something we feel weird or squirrelly about.
I also just finished rewatching Derek DelGaudio’s In and Of Itself. If you haven’t seen it, In and Of Itself is about how we look at the world. It’s also about how the world looks at us. It’s about what we see and what we don’t see. Sometimes it’s about making the things we see into something else.
Great art does this. It says businessmen with open umbrellas could be raining from the sky. It says our dreams are elephants on stilt legs and melting watches. In and Of Itself says a brick thrown through a window out of hate could be painted gold. Then it says it might later be left on a street corner becoming nothing at all. “The Cape,” says a kid jumping off a garage roof is a damn near perfect metaphor for life.
I wish I knew how to write this sort of stuff. But then, not knowing is an important secret. The things we don’t how to write are often better than the things we think we want to. The same sometimes holds true for things we don’t want to write.
When I start out wanting to write something, and then go and write exactly that thing, there’s not a lot of excitement or energy in that. Energy and excitement are in discovering something new.
It’s in walking into the woods not knowing if there’ll be any water there and then tripping over a fount.
That’s the thing about not knowing—you never know. But not knowing is where the excitement is.
The Fearless Songwriting Challenge starts in a little over a week. The challenge is a great way to experiment with not knowing. The Challenge is all about writing when you don’t know what you want to write. You just show up and let the voice that says you need to know things that you’re going to need it to give you some space for a while. Participants in August said it was a great chance to let go of their censor and also that it’s a wild and magical ride. I hope to see you there and hear your songs. Find out more about the Fearless Challenge here.
This week I ended up delving deeper with Life on Mars. We’ll be looking at it again one more time next week.
The Musical Idea:
Here’s a downloadable pdf of the worksheet above: