Behind The Song

musings of a professional dreamer


There are some songs that get under your skin and beat through your veins to grab hold of your heart and they won’t let you go. Perfectly aligned with that place within your heart that creates the song from nothing and breathes life into a moment of time to engrave its truth into the perfect notes and honest words that tell your truth, the song is born.

Songs arrive in different forms. Sometimes I sit at the piano and an entirely formed song presents itself instantly. Sometimes I sit and wait and my truth is mute for days or weeks. Sometimes I am wrestled in the middle of the night by a song that beats my mind awake and won’t let me rest until I’ve explored its existence. I go through writing and non-writing phases. There are weeks in which no inspiration is clear and others where I can’t capture it fast enough. I suppose there is a certain amount of living in between writing that needs to take place, but sometimes the silent phases scare me and I wonder if the song will ever return. But it always does.

It’s interesting to look back over the past year and notice how my song writing has developed. While I am still intent on writing as honestly as possible, the end result is entirely separate from the emotion that got me there to begin with and serves the song itself, as opposed to the place it came from, although it is still my therapy and the reason it exists for me in the first place.

I’ve been impatient to get back into the studio to record my second album. Years ago I had the pleasure of working with a producer of immeasurable stature. The best advice he gave me was to write as much as possible, especially when you’re writing an album. “If you need ten songs, write eighty and the ten you settle on will be as perfect as they could ever be.” As ridiculous and time consuming as that sounded to the young and eager song writer in me initially, who viewed every work as precious as the last, I have slowly begun to appreciate his point. Despite having written ten albums worth of demos over the past year in preparation for this album, I still wasn’t entirely satisfied to present the right selection of them to the world. There is a picture in my head of the mood I want to create and it was missing two pieces and the frustration of not being able to articulate those pieces was beginning to taunt me.

I sat at the piano late Monday night, just before turning in, with no intention of writing. There is a feeling that stirs in me when I sit at the piano and just play, and that was my only intention… to feel that feeling and then drift off to sleep. I’d been playing around with a chord structure for a few days that I desperately wanted to use, but that just wasn’t going anywhere, but in that moment something happened and an entire song created itself from nowhere in the space of minutes. There are some songs that get under your skin and beat through your veins to grab hold of your heart and they won’t let you go. This is one of those songs. I couldn’t stop playing it the next day and my song writer’s heart has worn a smile when I’ve played it since. Following the creation of this honest and emotionally-driven song about perseverance, I then catapulted in entirely the opposite direction to write the last missing piece, the most playful track for the album about new love, contrasting entirely to the emotional space of the previous piece which is perhaps one reason why I am so intrigued by this process.

I write because I have to, because I need to, but I have no idea where it all comes from or when the ignition will spark. As long as the writing droughts last, I know it always rights to write itself eventually. So I am thrilled to report that the album is officially, as of this moment, written and I can’t wait for you to hear it.

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© Shannon Hope 2017