The Mystical Side Of Songwriting
Updated: Jun 26, 2020
Words are profound, incredible tools. But words in themselves are limiting. This is why metaphor is so powerful. It was born out of the limited nature of vocabulary. We use words to describe things, but the words are not the things themselves. That is the mystical side of songwriting. Whether it is a person, a place, an emotion or a concept, these experiences are much bigger than words. Words are just shadows of the true thing – they are meant to lead us towards the real experience of something. When we write in this way, we open up many more possibilities in how to take the listener to the heart of the experience. It is mysterious how words, when strung together in certain rhythms and sequence, and used in varying context, can take us to such deep and unexpected places in our consciousness. Once you allow the words to take you on their collective ride, there is no telling where you’ll be swept off to. Songwriting, I believe, is very connected to this idea. When it feels like the lyric and melody are both breathing the same air, and the words and music sound so naturally intertwined, that is when a listener experiences a transcending of the medium. It is bigger than a song or even music itself; it is a universe of its own. There are some great lines in John Lennon’s “Imagine”, but it is the feeling in the song that takes us to a place of wonder. This is art. It’s not the tools used or the artist’s palette, but the energy, intent, and feeling that it conveys as a whole. It has been said that Van Gogh didn’t paint what he saw in the sky when he painted “Starry Night”, he painted what he felt. This is equally true for great songs. For the listener to experience this, so must we as songwriters in the creative process. I believe this is something that can be practiced and developed. When the words come to us from the feeling itself, rather than using words to create the feeling, then we are on the right path. These are meditative places of quiet mind and intuitive thought. They are creative flows that are sometimes abstract, sometimes away from the center of the target, but always true in their relationship to the song.