But I never want to get to the point where I write a safe song or one that represents my sense of a subject in order to appear civilized.
A lot of my writing is not terribly civilized. Sometimes I listen to songs by very smart writers who assume that the world is a civil place with certain formalities that people follow, but I don’t see things that way. My own experience tells me that life is not like that. That’s why I write the way I do.
Rock stars are like prophets. There’s something about somebody who can get up on a stage and sing. And then when they write you songs, forget it, okay?
People should be free to take whatever they want from music and I think that over time I realized that different people always find different things in my songs, which is really good.
I don’t like to overcook songs.
Once you write and record a song, it becomes everyone else’s song.
I started writing songs when I started learning guitar.
Every time I write a song it feels like it could be the last one I do, or it always feels like a fluke.
I think that a good song is catchy, and a great song is not catchy – but it has a deeper meaning.
"On Script" is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. I’d just been jamming on it one day, and again I was struggling with lyrics. I’m still figuring out what it’s about. I’ve seen a couple of reviews that are like, "It’s about the monotony of playing the same songs every night," because I say, "On script every night/Like a well-rehearsed stage show." It’s not about that at all, but I find that funny, how people project what they think about me, or songwriters in general.
I’ve never liked songs that are about writing, or struggling to write. Maybe it’s because it’s too relatable to me.
The music, I think, is just as important as the lyrics; it portrays the emotion of the song. I play the kind of music that I want to listen to.
I try to write a lot and my process is kind of back and forth. I procrastinate a lot so when I do sit down to write, I’m pretty lazy at it. And it’s such a frustrating thing sometimes – writing – when you don’t do it all the time, you get that thing in your head that you have nothing to talk about and you can’t write songs.
The first song I wrote was called "You" and it was a love song about somebody who didn’t even exist. I remember them all because I used to always write terrible poetry. I keep all my notebooks.
Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, singers of songs.
Folk songs in general, I like. The old spooky Scottish folk songs.
When you’re in a daze – whether it’s from running or a hangover or whatever else – I think that ideas from your subconscious can slip through more easily. The way that I write songs, for what its worth, when I’m playing music, if it’s good music it will bring images forward into my mind and then I’ll write down what the images are and that becomes the lyrics. I think that process is just easier if the superego has just gone away in disgust for the day.
Cornelius Cardew very famous in Britain, because he was the darling of the avant-garde, and he played in a band called AMM, which was an improvising band in the ’60s. Paul McCartney used to come watch them. Later on in life, he became disenchanted with avant-garde music, because he felt it couldn’t reach the public. It didn’t have a wide enough appeal. So he’d take these tunes of old English folk songs and write Stalinist lyrics over the top of them. I do think that when he changed to folk songs, he actually lost the tiny audience he already had, which is quite interesting.
Cornelius Cardew’s folk songs were very, very literal, and they were just about workers smashing their chains. It was like reading Das Kapital over a folk-song melody, and it’s a spectacular failure, in my opinion.
I think that’s one of the problems with downloading mps these days. You never really get a chance to attune to a different logic, a different musical logic. If you hear a song and don’t like it, you’ll just delete it off your hard drive.
I can remember back as far as age 8, performing with the Boston Folk Song Society. It was a Woody Guthrie song.
I don’t want to do children’s music. I write kids songs, but the kids songs I write are for my kids – like when I’m putting them to bed. We sing some song that we made up but I don’t want to make a record like that.
The first thing that inspires any song is a chord progression. When I have one I really like, I get into the lyrics even more.
My most cryptic, strange songs might be my most personal, but that isn’t how people are going to receive them, because they don’t know the code.
There was a f**king review in f**king Melody Maker [of the first BOSSANOVA single, ‘Velouria’] – ‘Sounds like someone’s been taking singing lessons’. Like, motherf**king A! I am the singer. Who do sing SONGS. It’s like I never sang before; like I was – I don’t know – reading PROSE on my previous records and now I sing. EXCUUUUUUSE me for singing
Man has gone to the moon but he does not yet know how to make a flame tree or a bird song. Let us keep our dear countries free from irreversible mistakes which would lead us in the future to long for those same birds and trees.
The human mind is a wonderful thing, it starts working from before you’re born and doesn’t stop till you sit down to write a song.
I sing, not to hear the echo repeat, a shade fainter, my song! I think of light and not of glory! Singing is my fashion of waging war and bearing witness. And if my song is the proudest of songs, it is that I sing clearly to make the day rise clear!
If you don’t get a laugh I immediately think it’s somebody else’s fault. You can always blame the material. But when it’s just yourself and songs that you’ve picked up because you love them and stories that you’ve written yourself and patter you think is really funny if that tanks, there’s no one to blame it on. God knows, I try!
Friday’ is about hanging out with friends, having fun. I felt like it was my personality in that song.
Which Seat Should I Take?
Stop what you are doing long enough to enjoy the sunset, listen to a special song that lifts you up, or pick up the phone and share some special thought with a caring friend.
I suppose any note, no matter how sour, sounds like a song if you hold onto it long enough.
I love having other people sing my songs.
I love Neil Young. His songs were the first songs I learned to play, and I recommend anyone who is starting guitar to learn Neil Young songs first.