His head upon his instrument,
And seemed to listen till he caught
Confessions of its secret thought”
Excerpt from “The Musicians Tale; Prelude; The Wayside Inn”
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The songwriting process for me is very cathartic. I know I’m not the only songwriter to say that I write songs because there is some inner turmoil going on. I guess that’s why I’ve written so MANY songs, lyrics and poems. I am currently compiling a complete collection of my poetry, short prose and lyric poems. (See "On The Road In My Travels I Came Across This", also by Mike Diehm) This process has been very therapeutic, something that I need right now. As I go through and do some edits I am realizing that I have been searching for a long, long time for a certain something. That certain something, I now believe, after almost 35 years of writing, has been a search for my SELF. I know my self much better these days. I like it.
For me (as I’m sure a lot of songwriters will tell you) a song does not always begin in the same way. Sometimes I first come up with lyrics, sometimes a particular chord progression or even just one chord or, in some cases, just one NOTE. Other times a song will start with a melody stuck in my head. But no matter how a song comes to me if it feels “labored”, if I have to think too much about it, it will invariably be tossed, ripped up or otherwise discarded. The sixty or seventy songs that remain to this day are all songs that came to me quite naturally.
A lot of my songs and poetry do not even tell a “story”; instead they are more like moments in time, sometimes down to feelings which occur in seconds or minutes. As a music lover and intense “listener” I know I’m not alone in this. It’s like a piece of visual art. Everyone who views (or listens to) a piece of art will get a different feeling. That’s because the song CAME FROM a feeling that might have been very fleeting.