We all have our songs and our singers we keep coming back to. Sometimes it’s hard to relate when people share their musical loves. They are so personal and so particular. That song we keep returning to – how to quantify its importance to our lives? It’s the voice, the words, the texture of the music, or even just the attitude to the world that hooks us. Maybe we keep coming back because there’s something unspoken in us that we hear in the music. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, through listening again and again, we weren’t just trying to fill an empty space, but were actually awakening the part of ourselves we sense is sleeping and needs to be shaken? I’ve always found that through listening to others voice a silent part of myself, I am able to access more clarity and honesty in my own writing. I think honesty is always difficult in writing fiction, or non-fiction, because most of us need to forget we have an audience in order to speak freely. Another option is to know the audience is there and to believe in ourselves enough to speak anyway.
I find I listen to Leonard Cohen when a listening attitude to the whole world is required, a respect for the careful choice of words particular to my own heart as I write, an attention to the little details that seem simple but which might become sublime. I listen to Nick Cave when there is something dark or angry to express. Many of us, especially women, don’t give ourselves permission to experience the violence in our own spirits, because we’re told that is anti-social or destructive. We don’t need to act on it, but sometimes we need to hear it and to speak it. I think I listen to PJ Harvey for bravery. She seems particularly free. As a writer I feel like Billy Corgan is a kind of twin brother. I sometimes listen to Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and think, yes, that is exactly what I think. I wish I’d said it like that. He also reminds me that you can hate on your work all you like in the process of creating it, but when you put it out you need to be an arrogant jerk and back yourself. If you don’t believe in it heart and soul, then why did you put it out? Sometimes you back the wrong thing, but you have to believe in it when you share it. Don’t waste space with half-heartedness.
What are your songs telling you? Mine are saying – less thought and more heart in your writing. Sincerity can be complicated in real life but it always works in art. Art requires your body and soul commitment.
Listening to: Tonight, Tonight