Friday, February 22, 2008

Turning dark corners.

I have an ongoing argument about the nature of creative muses. The other day I was talking to one of the most prolific and consistent (though occasionally, seemingly restricted) musical artists of my generation.

Name dropping is bad, so you're just going to have to wonder.

She wrote a book of poems, which I liked well enough (not as much as I like her live albums, but eh...) and I noticed beneath the political rhetoric, the sly references to the complexities of lesbian love and the difficulties in loving men, a singular theme of loneliness kept cropping up.

So... I asked her. What the fuck? Why do I keep reading loneliness even in your political and social stuff?

In general terms, she told me she wrote when she was down. It was just easier to pick up the guitar or the pen when she felt bad. When she was happy, she didn't want to write or work on chords to cheer herself up. She wanted to enjoy the things that made her happy. She told me she was trying to change that a little, which might yield a few happier songs down the road.

... and it might not.

My general belief about the creative process is that good art usually involves a deliberate change in perception. You are forcing yourself one way or another to see the world from a different angle. You do this because you can't see everything at once so you just try to see more. You're limited by the nature of your own perspective.

The act of Art is arriving at truth, even if the art itself is trying to tell lies.

Being miserable is an effective way to alter your perception. It's a tried and true path -possibly the most tried and true.

Anyway, listening to her I was both relieved and saddened. I hope she's able to write a couple of songs from a happier place. My gut instinct says that's not likely.

I write from a very dark place. My best work is not when I am happy, though what I write about isn't necessarily sad or down. When I'm happy, I'd rather go have a drink, take a swim or fall in love.

I have never been in a creative place as rich as the one I am in now. The ideas come like rains during monsoon season and the need to complete them is like a valentine delivered at gunpoint.

Happiness is over rated.

1 comment:

Wv Sky said...

It's true that most artists (ESPECIALLY country) realize their best work during times of stress and or loneness. I think it's a lot easier to to do this because during those times, you do a LOT more contemplating about your situation than at any other time. You tend to study your affairs closer because you have plenty of quite time to do it. I mean.. you don't feel like going out and having fun right? So there's the perfect opportunity to write it down in a song. On the other hand, when things are going great and you're busy having fun, you dont have TIME to write about it. (That's why the Tin-Pan Alley people were so needed because all they did was write happy songs)

But here's an interesting side note:

In some of the former Communist countries, after the Wall fell... you didnt hear a sad song for years. To this day they're not popular. Why? 50 years of having someones heel on your neck tends to have the effect of never wanting to feel sad again. So, very upbeat American and European Tecno Pop is still the rule of the day some 17 years later.