For Me, The Challenge Of Writing A Song
One of the questions I often get from people after they have listened to one or more of my songs is, “What is that song about?” or “Who inspired you to write that piece?” These are questions that often tend to make me somewhat uncomfortable both from a personal and artistic point of view. For although I approach each song’s creation influenced strongly by my own personal life-experiences, I try lyrically to speak to a broad spectrum of people in a way that is relevant to them and to their lives as well. So when I was asked to blog about my thematic approach to each of the songs on Long Time Gone, I realized that before responding to that request, a brief description and explanation about how I view and approach my music and what I hope to achieve therein may be in order.
Thematically, I try to frame each song inside of a relatively universal concept that will touch most, if not all, of us at sometime during our lives (i.e. – love, betrayal, self-esteem, friendship, etc.). In this way, it is my hope that my songs can speak to and unite as broad an audience and constituency as possible. As a very young student, I often found myself drawn to the unifying and healing power of the arts, especially music. This was a time long before the advent of the balkanized, hyphenated world in which we now live. Like most of today’s culture, music has become somewhat fragmented with each musical genre speaking specifically to one of many different and somewhat isolated segments of society. Let me be clear, I find nothing wrong with this approach. Literature, music, films, etc. targeted to specific audience segments clearly have their cultural and commercial time and place. But for me growing up in Greenwich Village in the 1960’s, music has always been a unifying force… songs sung around the campfire of the public square speaking to the common interests, concerns, and aspirations of us all; hence my desire with Long Time Gone to create music sonically and lyrically that addresses more humanly universal and relevant themes.
But universal themes many times present themselves on a much more personal and individual scale. Thus, the challenge for me when writing a song is to reverse that process… that is, to take a uniquely intimate experience that I own and pass it along to my audience packaged in a setting and/or context that is both familiar and personal to them as well. Hence, when I sensed a few years back that my elderly mom was about to pass on and began to face the all-to-familiar human dilemma of not wanting to see her go, I took that personal conflict and attempted to write about it in a way in which many among us could relate and may have already experienced for themselves (i.e. – Hard To Say Goodbye).
So as you listen to the songs on Long Time Gone, please remember that it is not just my uniquely personal story that I am attempting to tell, but your story… your dreams, your experiences and your aspirations as well. I hope I have done so with the respect and dignity they truly deserve.