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Songwriting and the perilous feeling that comes with it

I got back from the studio the other day and someone asked me how it went. I said it’s a bit like standing naked in front of a crowd of people.

Songwriting really is about putting yourself out there. Any creative knows the drill. And so the skill becomes trusting your imagination.

Like Mark Twain says, “You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus”. But this is still a nerve-wracking concept.

I’ve grown to learn and accept that when it comes to discussing ideas or as-yet-unseen things, some people are not wired this way. The worst question I can ask my wife is what she thinks about my ideas. It’s way better to present her with an actual song, or drawing, or physical thing, rather than a figment of my imagination.

That said, Tam is probably the best bouncing board because of precisely this reason. If it’s not concrete or realised, it exists purely as an idea.

So it was with intrigue that when she arrived at the studio with me to record vocals with our co-producer Brent, that I saw in her the same anxiety which I go through every time I write or play something original for the first time to someone else.

You’re out there, exposed. Your ideas, your inner self, your creativity – which are deep vulnerable things a lot of the time – and you wonder whether they’re any good or if anyone will relate at all…

It helps to have skilled people onboard like Brent to collaborate with. The ideas can be polished and refined in ways I would never be able to do on my own.

It also helps having a community of people who relate to similar things to me and share similar joys, struggles, concerns and victories with. For example, I love hanging out with young people in their teens or twenties who have an affinity for kids. Equally so, I like hanging out with parents who are teaching and raising their kids in ways I haven’t considered, and sharing thoughts and stories about our respective journeys.

It also helps to hear that someone loves exercise, training, braais or action movies, because then I think I’m not that alone in this world. And maybe, surely, there’ll be a song of mine they can relate to… because we’re not all that different after all?

And maybe, surely, there’ll be a song of mine they can relate to… because we’re not all that different after all?

Donate towards the Great Deep.

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