How do you write your songs? Lyrics or music first? Is it easier to write something funny or more emotional? What is the most odd thing/person/place that has inspired a song?
Great question Rachel! You know, in the past I’ve been reluctant to reveal my writing method to anyone. I have a very unconventional style, and I’m not too inclined to share it. But this little adventure in blogging is making me feel more open and honest. So, for you Rachel, and anyone else interested, I’m about to tell you one of my biggest secrets of all…
For many years now, all my songs have actually been written by the ghost of 9th American president, William Henry Harrison.
Here’s how it started: One day I was out walking around Decatur, and I happen to stumble upon a hole in space-time under a fallen tree behind an old mailbox. I had the bright idea to send my most reliable carrier pigeon, Desmond, through the portal with a message, asking for help writing songs. To my surprise, among the many responses I got, was one from, you guessed it, William Harrison himself.
Turns out he’d been trapped between worlds, still upset about having served the shortest time of any American President. He said he still had some things he wanted to accomplish. So I agree to sing the songs he’d been writing in limbo. The first song he gave me was “Narcoleptic Nymphomaniac.” Apparently he wrote that little ditty about a famous 5th century Chinese courtesan and poet named Su Xiaoxiao, who he met on the other side.
We had a great run, me and Willy. It seemed like the songs would just keep coming forever. Then one day, Desmond came flapping out of the wormhole with a final message from my prolific friend. He was moving on. He felt like he’d finally done the work he didn’t get to do in life and was ready for next world. At first I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do without “Old Tip” as my, ahem… ghost writer. But thankfully, in his note he also gave me some advice on writing, along with the very method he himself used. I’ve taken it on as my own, and it seems to work for me.
As President Harrison himself told me, “I write the words and music at the same time. One will usually be the spark. Could be a lyrical idea, or it could be a chord progression. But, if they don’t sort of come out together, the song doesn’t feel right.” We also both agree that emotional songs are much harder to write. Except for the very best ones that seem to write themselves. As for oddest… well, I once wrote a song about a real life kleptomaniac I dated. I got no help from Mr. Harrison on that one. Thanks a lot William!! Jeez.
Thanks for the question Rachel. Anyone else?