Monday, 27 October 2014

Poets and Songwriters - two sides of a coin

I read a lot of poetry.  I've studied it a bit, but mainly I just read it and occasionally write some.  I am inspired by poetry and tend to feel like my brain has opened into its own space after I have read even a small amount.  My favourite book is an ex-library copy of 'The Oxford Anthology of English Poetry'.  I borrowed it so many times that they put the copy for sale for 30p with my thumb marks all over it.  I like to randomly open a page and see what I find.
My James Watt song was the first I have written with some kind of poetry response (to William Wordsworth's London .  I am usually of the opinion that poetry and songwriting are two very different things, although I have recently been studying the overlap in the form of Natalie Merchant's 'Leave your sleep' which sets poetry to music.  In fact it was when watching '10,000 Maniacs unplugged' that I became aware that you could use literature as inspiration for songs.  Merchants song 'Hey Jack Kerouac' inspired me to read 'On the Road', and her reading of a historical clipping in her precursor to 'Goldrush Brides' led me to broaden my songwriting beyond just what I have experienced firsthand.
I recently wrote a song with Arran Kerr using three stimuli: A Kerouac quote, a picture of an old rusty truck and a stuffed black crow.  Arran plays amazing bluesy guitar and I was let loose on moody lyrics that I love.  It was thoroughly enjoyable trying out Karouac's 'stream of consciousness' style of writing and working with a musician so versatile that he can change he playing and the colour of the chords to work with the lyric so perfectly.  When we have recorded it properly I shall add it below!

Watch this space!

I think I probably read more than I listen to music - at least recorded music.  I am out so much that a lot of what I listen to is live, but often original music too.  I'm also a bit obsessed with tracking backwards.  I played a gig recently and a gentleman handed me a receipt afterwards with lots of names that I hadn't heard of written on the back.  He said that some of them reminded him of me and others I would simply do beautifully.  Those are my favourite kinds of post-gig interactions.  I'm learning that many of the people at live music, not only love music, but also play music and that their knowledge and experience is invaluable.

I also have a friend that sends me lists of bands and which albums he finds inspiring and why.  If I post a new song on youtube he posts a link to something different.  Often this will be with a comment like 'this had the feel of...' as a compliment and signpost.  Another form of interaction that I love.  I guess it goes back to the point of this blog - that I want to write music (and poetry) as a way of interacting with people.  As a live communication.  I think that's why any of us send writings out into the world, whether bound in book or CD, or on a transient blog like this one.

Here's the Wordsworth poem that I respond to in my song... and the well thumbed poetry book.


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