Monday, October 19, 2015
VERY Giant Steps by John Coltrane
Who hasn't seen this? It's John Coltrane's Giant Steps, animated and somewhat illuminated. Because sometimes you have to see it to believe it.
I need a momentary distraction from a sea of paperwork -- rewrites, bits of song ideas and lyrics, applications for workshops and residencies, graduate school and my parlor guitar -- and this Star Wars trailer isn't enough to tip me over in another direction.
One song escapes me, slowly. I can't chase it down with food or a heady conversation or a butterfly net. A long walk shakes something else loose, some other idea. Another song to distract me, maybe. I sing into a voice recorder on my phone and sing it to myself all the way home as it swings back and forth in my head. Eventually, I unravel it on my sofa. Sometimes, I write it all the way down. And somewhere in there, there are phone calls and errands and money to be chased down and tea and solace and sleep and sunshine and work to be had and worry and much prayer and fasting. Somewhere in there, there are rewrites and emails and all kinds of funk and deliberation. But mostly, there are those songs that escape me slowly and more often than not, they drift off right as I'm going to sleep. Whenever I feel a song coming on, I hold still in spite of whatever else I'm doing. And I realize whatever else I'm doing is making way for the song to (re)surface. Kind of like the technique that makes way for "inspiration" as Stanislavski explains it.
Songwriting is always the momentary distraction. Like a tightly wound bud that is sure to bloom into a gigantic peony, there is always a song somewhere in me, waiting to come out. All I have to do is wait it out. And in the immortal words of Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part.