Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Art and Pain

In between songwriting blurbs, artist dates and immersing myself in my community of friends, I've been thinking a lot lately about the creative process. Probably within the last year or so the songs I've written for my new band have veered in a vastly different direction. In sharp contrast to the thoughtful, mellow, audible landscape of my solo efforts, the new tunes revealed a harder, more masculine sound, not waxing so much poetic but just fun to play. The dry humor and introspective lyrics were still there, but it's been freeing to be much more experimental. Still, every once in a while I would miss the ambient, sometimes feminine nature of my old self.

Without going into the tawdry details of my healing process the last two years, I can say I've arrived at a place in my life of true contentment. Not that I've experienced all there is or come near achieving all my dreams and goals. I'm just inwardly joyful and see a stabilization of several areas of my life that needed to be the focus for a while. It's all come into balance.

While I eagerly anticipate the new tunes and even the direction this band has morphed into (the ever present line-up change), I've been dialoguing with some of these jewels about what it takes to fuel creativity. (You can read my post here for a few things I've applied since last summer.) Staying in touch via twitter or Facebook, I wonder aloud now, if people think it's possible to create art or music with depth without pain.

Pain is a universal experience, something that resonates and connects with people. Countless incredible songs have been written and played. But it can also be destructive enough to stunt the creative process instead of give birth to worthwhile work. I am no stranger to this, as I probably have about 30-40 songs in my repertoire that never see the light of day because they fail to be relevant. Are they valid? Of course. But I won't necessarily write them with the intention of being performed.

Now, I will say something redemptive about all of this. I may be in a much better and happier place in my life, but I will ALWAYS remember my past. I just simply recall it without bitterness and sorrow, and dig deep into the well of that experience to formulate my current passion, which just so happens to be rooted in many social causes these days. The artist has an innate ability to empathize whether or not he or she has been through the same things. So I think it is possible.

Feel free to post your thoughts on this...

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