Friday, April 4, 2008

Songwriting

I guess I'm a songwriter, although I don't like to identify myself as one right up front. I've written a few songs, and I'm really proud of some of them. Some of them, like "God of All Light" and "New Every Morning," have actually found a place in the worship language of our faith community and in the greater denomination. It's such an honor... such a humbling experience, too... to hear people singing a song that I wrote and know that it means something to them or somehow helps them to connect to God in a significant way.

I even have a radio hit. :) "Always Entertaining Me (The La-La Song)" has had quite an interesting life... It's been played on several radio stations, made #1 on Indieheaven.com's charts and, apparently, impressed these people. (Wha??) You know, I think it has a great hook that will stay with you for days. But as much as you might love it for the first few hours, you'll be wanting to pull out your hair after a while.

I am not prolific. Ryan Adams or Joseph Arthur are cranking out three albums a year, and I might write one song in three months. The craft of songwriting is difficult for me. I am not a disciplined songwriter. I have no particular method. My best songs have come in one sitting... usually within 15-20 minutes... and I tend to have no patience for a song that I have to work on over time. It's all or nothing with me.

Maybe that's why I am in awe of people who can really write a song: Joni Mitchell, Derek Webb, Karen Peris of the innocence mission, Linford Detweiler & Karin Bergquist of Over the Rhine, Suzanne Vega, Sufjan Stevens. I hang on these peoples' words. I savor them like fine wine. I really listen to them, because I know that they have something profound to say, and they will say it in a unique way. They will surprise me. They will take my breath away.

For me, songwriting has always been a gift. And I'm working on a new song right now... Maybe I'll surprise some of you with it sometime soon... Problem is, it didn't come in ten minutes and I'm having to actually work on it. Sheesh.

Cool blog... Suzanne Vega, Andrew Bird, Darrell Brown and Rosanne Cash are blogging for the NY Times about songwriting. I really love what they've had to say so far. It's so great to have a little glimpse into the process of writing a song. Check it out here.

Different Topic... Thanks to the generosity of Carl Touhey and Dave Bartoshuk, Jake and I are up in Tahoe at Squaw Valley Ski Resort. It's amazing. Snowboarding, movies, great food, a pool and hot tub... The Winter Olympics were held here in 1960. It's just an amazing place.

And amazing that I have absolutely nothing to worry about for Sunday. I won't even be home until Sunday night. Skipping church! Amazing.

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