Why I Write Songs:
I write songs because I’m too cheap to go to therapy. Actually, that’s not true, and particularly because I currently am in therapy (affordable therapy is a thing, friends, apparently, and not just the kind you find in best mates, or the bottom of a bottle, or in the back of 90s magazines).
But to say I write songs as a kind of therapy is definitely true, and I’m sure it’s true of a lot of people who write songs. In my mind, it’s sort of what they’re there for. I think without problems to sort out I wouldn’t write songs, or at least the songs I currently write. I also write songs as passing the time on interminable night journeys home through London. I seriously don’t know what other people do on the night bus, apart from possibly wish they were dead. Happy people don’t catch the night bus because they’re at home in bed dreaming sweet dreams and not coming home pissed at 4 in the morning after saying they’d only stay ‘for one’. But I digress.
I often find by the time I come to the end of a song; I’ve discovered what I didn’t realise I want thinking all along. For me, songs are the truth I didn’t know I possessed, the careful unpicking of the tangle of thread that is my thoughts. Writing a song, you carefully tease out the tangle, arrive at the beginning that was there all along, and just invisible. Apart from that one song. That’s just about bees. Look, I just like bees. Not everything is a metaphor.
I also write songs to find beauty in sadness. Or to express the beauty in sadness, because I think without that sometimes the sadness would end me, honestly. Art is the expression of emotion. It is a vent, a way of making the cruelty of the world (on whatever level, the individual or the societal) sort of all worthwhile. Also sometimes to get people to sleep with you, which, let’s be fair, is a pretty important task.*
So, a mix between sweet distraction and beautiful acceptance. I get so lost in individual songs, that every song I write, I’m terrified it will be my last, but it never is, there’s always another one waiting around the corner, ready to be discovered, teased out of the tangle. And, y’know, it’s a pretty big tangle, so I reckon there’s probably a few more in there at least. Before I’m happy and my creativity dries up and I become one of those people slumbering peacefully while other people write songs on the night bus. But hey, I’ll be well rested.
*Write good enough songs and you can use them MORE THAN ONCE to sleep with DIFFERENT people. My songs are not this good, but I’ve heard it happens. Beans on Toast has an amusing story about someone pretending his song was theirs to this end, and a woman at one of his gigs being really surprised to find that this in fact was a song by Beans. Imagine writing a song SO GOOD that other people are using it to get people to sleep with them. That’s it, that’s my dream.
Check out Maya’s songs on bandcamp!
Photo by Nick Ed Harris