All it takes to calm down the crazy in a room is one single song. One. Single. Song… and maybe a bit of whiskey! Music is a great equalizer, but Ben Harper said it best “Music is the last true voice of the human spirit. It can go beyond language, beyond age, and beyond color straight to the mind and heart of all people.” I breathe a sigh of great relief whenever I see this small truth reflected. Why is that though? Why do we get so stuck in our thinking and ways of being?
My dearest friend gave me a clue and I am convinced it holds the key to happiness. Surround yourself with people who are not like you he said. Expose yourself to different mediums of art, books, beauty. Do not remain static. As a songwriter I search for people who by their very nature allow me to see another side of the coin in my hand. Or I might just end up being the crazy in the room!
Henry Miller once opined,
‘An individual human existence should be like a river — small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.’
Expansion is what I seek. With every encounter I silently plead: share with me the truth of who you are. I do not care about the edited camera ready bits posted on social media. Show me your heart and where your woundedness lies. So I can find the music, the bridge over which you can walk to find safety. Perhaps, maybe…I am too much of a romantic. My head is always stuck in a book or behind a closed door. I do not want to be guilty as Anaïs Nin was ‘…of fabricating a world in which I can live and invite others to live in, but outside of that I cannot breathe.’
I want to enjoy the freedom that comes with adjusting my opinion and beliefs. Mr Gladwell had a point when he said, “That’s your responsibility as a person, as a human being — to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don’t contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you’re not thinking.” As a songwriter I am on a never- ending expedition. Armed with a notebook and pen I am always hunting for bits of truth, shifts in perspective, lyrics and people who feel like Music. I observe people carefully as they listen to music. Why that song, that chord progression, those lyrics. Why and when do they sway and lose themselves? Then I ask ‘What was happening in your life when that song played…’ I do love the answers given.
When the moment is what it needs to be, when the right musician sits next to me, I think of those people I met and how their bodies lit up when they allowed the music to calm the crazy in the room. Then and only then do I write music.