Tuesday, June 22, 2010

That I-Need-to-Sneeze-But-I-Can't Feeling

I've been sick for the last few days, and for better or worse, it has given me some time to think. Yeah, I know. When is a songwriter not contemplating about life and death and all matters in between. Well, this morning, while I was drinking some Stash chamomile tea, I came up with an interesting metaphor...

All of life is like that feeling you get when you're about to sneeze. Your eyes tear up, your nose starts to tingle with pressure, and yet, the sneeze never comes. It gets stuck somewhere between your throat and your sphenoidal sinus (or somewhere else you've never heard of). In life, we all long and hope for things. We have unfulfilled desires and dreams. We all want what's best - for ourselves, for everyone - yet we often have no idea what "the best" might actually be. We are caught in the space occupied by unrealized potential.

This is what I am now coining as Sneeze Tension. Do you feel it? I feel it every day. Sick or not.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Songwriting Tips: Are You Kidding!?!?

I just uploaded a new video (of a new song) to my YouTube channel, here: http://youtube.com/jaymathesmusic. (Thanks for checking it out! :)

But seriously, I just watched it to make sure that everything uploaded okay (it didn't, actually. I still can't figure out the whole aspect ratio junk and the videos almost always get squashed in the YouTube player.), and I noticed that many of the videos along the sidebar "related" to mine are songwriting tips. I think I puked up a little in my mouth when I saw them there.

And if that wasn't bad enough, I clicked on a couple and watched these idiots talk about how to write better songs. Are you kidding!?!? These are the kinds of people who prey on stupid American Idol wanna-be's; and even worse, these vloggers have somehow been deluged with the delusion that they have something meaningful and worthwhile to say about songwriting.

Let me say something: songwriting is simple. You either have it or you don't. If you don't have it, by all means, continue watching barf-tastic songwriting tips videos on YouTube, like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2MrG8bxR_Y&feature=related (Okay, really, don't click that link. It's a waste of your time and you're going to improve its ratings.)

And if you have it, you know you have it. I'm not saying I have it. Nor am I saying that those who have it can't improve their skills and hone their craft. What I'm saying is that good songwriters always were good songwriters. Maybe not every song they wrote was always great; but there were pieces of great songs all along the way - even from the very start of things.

So where is this coming from? Not really sure. But what I can say is that if you *are* a songwriter (by the way, I think that the only *true* songwriters are *great* songwriters, indeed), the best way for you to improve your songwriting is to write more songs. Every minute you spend thinking about how you write a song is another minute that you're not writing one.

Don't waste your life on theory. Get dirty. Make a mess. Do something. Be somebody. Work as hard as you can at something because you love it and can't imagine life without it. Don't give in. Don't let someone tell you what you can achieve. And be prepared to be broken. Beautifully broken.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Not What I Want, but What You Want

These past 11 months, I've had a lot of time to think about the way life works. I pretty much don't have any answers, but I do have a working theory about one thing. It has to do with how we love.

A boy and a girl are playing together outside. The boy says, "I really, really, really want to play in the sandbox" and the girl says, "Well, I want to play in the treehouse." The boy replies, "Okay, I'll do what you want to do." Pretty simple, right? Not so fast.

Even on the most basic of levels, this little boy has not just given in to the request of his friend - he has demonstrated to her selfless love. He *wanted* something else. He did what would make his friend happy. He did what she wanted. (Please, let's leave out the fact that we can never truly know the particular intentions of the boy's heart.)

We have to make choices like this every day. Will we lay aside our own desires - our own wants and longings - for the sake of others? Ultimately, to do so is to love.

One word of clarification: I dare say that there is a world of difference between "being willing" to love in this way and actually "doing" love in this way. A willingness will always bear fruit in action. We do what we desire. We pursue what we are passionate about - what interests us. If we are willing to love selflessly, let us show it, for if we do not show it, we prove that the desire was truly never in us.