Songwriting Inspiration: Looking Forward To Looking Back

Moving forward took me back. Before I go all Yogi Berra on you I’ll explain a bit. 2011 was my first full year of coaching writers and artists. I worked with ones from 16 to 65, from Nashville to Melbourne. All different levels and all different measures of success..and I loved it. I loved it not only for the relationships and the excitement of seeing a light go on or a song get cut but also for finding out what makes me tick as a creative person.

To constantly challenge creative folk I had to first challenge myself. I had to think outside the box and remember how the box was built. If it didn’t inspire me at some point how was I going to inspire someone else? Thought it might be fun as 2012 started to think of the things that “got me” in 2011. Stayed with books and music even though movies are a constant source of material.

Books, always…some old, some new.

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp. I’ve adapted (nice word for stolen) some  of her great exercises to spark creativity.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Like looking behind the curtain but it didn’t change the magic. Did more to shape how we create and enjoy than anyone in my lifetime. Made me think about the term “fearless” as it applies to an artist.

Life by Keith Richard . Favorite music bio and an amazing rock and roll survivor story.

11/22/63 by Stephan King. Never realized how much soul he has. Like a time machine 50’s and 60’s love story. Worked to illustrate how you paint a picture with color and detail. Just like a good lyric.

Moonlight Mile, but really anything by Dennis Lehane. Easy to tell he’s a big music fan, same as Stephen King. Think he’d have a great second career in Nashville :-)!

How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael J Gelb Older book but new to me. Skip some of the writing and try the exercises. Good creative stuff to stretch you.

Music. Who didn’t feel inspired by Adele? Everything great about the music business.

Miranda Lambert for Country. Song choices and especially her side project. She’s putting it all out there. Also like The Civil Wars and Need To Breathe.

I was blown away by the recent Kennedy Center Honors show with Yo Yo Ma. Pure genius and joy! One incredible artist with no boundaries.

At the very end of the year I kept being reminded of music of different eras and how fun it would have been to be writing “way back back when”. Oliver, Sound Of Music, Fiddler On The Roof, Wizard Of Oz and Peter Pan to name a few. Just amazing wordplay and melody. Thanks to my friend Lydia for posting this the other day. Old friend Paul Carrack doing “Moon River” . This is what I’m talking about!

What “did it” for you as a writer or artist last year?