I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a glimpse into my inner thoughts, a step inside my complex journey as a songwriter. Today's introspection is all about "The Muse".
I fall in love a lot. It happens almost every day, and with a lot of different people: male, female, old, young, ugly, beautiful...I may have fallen in love with you at one point and you never knew it, but you may have inspired a song or two. It's not a romantic kind of love though, (although sometimes it can be) it's more the kind of love that you have for your best friend or favorite family member. You love them, and they are special to you. I just feel that with random strangers that I meet, or who I sometimes only observe from a distance.
Here are some examples of how it plays out.
I am sitting in a restaurant and I'll notice the waitress with the brightly dyed, red, hair who smiles so effortlessly at everyone as she walks by. I'll think to myself, "She must be such a free spirit, she just loves life and people. I imagine she comes off bubbly and fun but is really deep and complex. I bet she is often misunderstood and nobody really knows how amazing she really is, but I do. I want to be like her. I love her."
Or, I'll see an old couple at that same restaurant holding hands and walking slowly together to the door as they leave. I look at the man's eyes and they look somewhat sad, and the woman's eyes seem tired. I imagine, "They must've been in love since they were teenagers, in a much simpler time. Now she is sick and he is taking care of her and he holds back his sadness because he is afraid to lose the love of his life and inside she is still the independent caregiver, except now she must be the one who is cared for but she tries to fight it and show she can still do it by herself and that makes her tired. With all of their differences and all of the trouble, they still walk hand in hand because they know that even though they drive each other crazy sometimes, they could never love someone else the way they love each other. I want to be like them, I love them."
The other day I went to a little cafe to grab a tea and lunch and I fell in love the young girl who was behind the counter. She was a little nerdy, had glasses, wore no makeup and tied her frizzy hair back in a long braid. When it was my turn to order, I studied her and looked into her eyes as we made small talk. I felt her look back into mine with the same intrigue, but while mine was more of a "You fascinate me, who are you really?" Hers was more of a, "Why are you so fascinated by me, nobody is fascinated by me, who are you?"
I left the counter and went and sat down at a table to wait for my food. I watched her from a distance, and the story began. "She is always overlooked. Her whole life she has never fit in with the crowd, in school she was teased for being different and it made her hate herself, she never felt good enough. She just wants someone to really see her." I watched her singing along quietly to the song on the radio in the cafe and thought, "She is such a jewel. She has so much love to give, she is so precious. I love her." I watched a group of other customers approach the counter to order and after they did, they barely gave so much as a hasty glance at this precious jewel of a person before looking away at more "interesting" matters. I hated them. That night I went home and wrote her story.
These people are my muses. Their stories inspire thoughts, they become my lyrics, their emotions become my emotions. I have written many songs about my own experiences, my own heartbreak, my own pain, my own joys and every now and then I'll revisit one of those times to birth a new song baby, but sometimes I run out of my own "Ash" steam and while in the wilderness phase, before my next profound experience, I go in search (not always intentionally) of a muse to inspire a new story.
It's like creativity overload for me. I have no boxes, no rules, their stories can be as complex or as simple as I imagine they are and in a way I get to vicariously live through them. Sometimes it's a song to the muse from me, sometimes it's a song from their perspective, sometimes it's a song from another imaginary person to the muse. It all depends on how I want to tell their story or the feeling I want to get across.
I am constantly analyzing the idea of art and how to define it. I realize that it's like trying to define "love" there is not one definition but many that are all correct. Anyways, one conclusion I've made is that the power of artists and musicians is in their ability to connect humans who seemingly have nothing in common, together through a shared understanding. It's two people who would have never talked to each other hearing the same song and saying, "I get it" and then those two people looking at each other thinking, "How can they get it too? We are so different...well, maybe we aren't so different after all."
When I fall in love with someone, I feel like I make that connection. I look at this person who seems, on the surface, so different than me but yet I feel like, "I get you." And that's what inspires me to write, that connection I share to another human being, that feeling that I'm not alone, that their story may be different than mine but our feelings were the same.
The mind and the heart of a songwriter are never at rest, but we will gladly take up this cross over and over for the chance to create something that might connect us all a little closer to one another.