I love words.
Last night I was at a songwriters workshop ….(pause for reaction)…
Yes, a songwriters workshop.
I was invited. So I went.
I was intrigued at the thought of discovering what the process is for legitimate songwriters. As a poet and a writer, sometimes my Muse pushes a song through me and out on to the paper. But outside of singing to my children, or to the various less than animate objects as I clean the house, that is usually where they – the words of the song – stay…. on paper.
Not often shared.
After all, I am a poet, an author, a writer – huge distinction from a songwriter.
Or so I thought.
So I went to a songwriters workshop and was surrounded by musicians and lyricists. Each attuned to their specific craft. Each armed with the ability to critique another’s work objectively, largely able to set their subjective natures aside for the betterment of the song itself.
The creative process was as delicious as I suspected it might be. The workshop leader, Jon Vezner, lived up to every award and accolade he has ever received. With his coaching, and the audience participation, songs came alive.
A slight change in tempo here,
a cord substitution there,
an alternate lilt in the voice
transformed pieces into Jazz, Reggae, Blues, Bluegrass, Country, Folk, Rock and more.
Sentiments and sounds bringing both the prickle of tears and exhilaration to my nearly virgin songwriter’s experience.
I love them.
With the slightest exchange of one word for another, a song’s terrain adopted a more encompassing depiction.
Place a softer noun here,
a fiercer verb there,
eliminate an unnecessary expression
or invent a bridge, and voila:
The story being told firmly grabs hold of the listener, taking each of us fully into the thoughts and intents of the songwriter.
I am a geek for words.
They tempt, tease and tickle me.
Some simply astonish me.
Many entice or trigger my Muse.
Others make me head straight to my thesaurus.
Last night one of the songwriters proudly used the word “susurrus” in his song. I had heard the word before, and while not knowing precisely the definition, I was able to make a fairly educated leap: because of the context, and because I live in the land of Thoreau and am familiar with other seemingly inane words such as “psithurism” – which, like susurrus, essentially means the sound the whispering wind makes as it blows through the trees.
Susurrus kind of fell flat on the songwriting crowds’ collective ears.
But the Poet in me loved it!
Still, I remained silent. I had already outed myself as a non-songwriter. I felt important to not completely expose myself and my myriad idiosyncrasies.
And what benefit would have been gained should I have chosen to add evidence to my word geekdom (geekhood?) by sharing that I also knew that in some Native American cultures (such as Micmac) trees were named by the specific sound the wind made as it blew through the branches? I suspect not much.
So I silently cheered this songwriter’s brave use of an all but completely unknown word.
I love them.
And as I took home this experience, and began to write, my Gemini mind shifted to other words I love. And I found myself contemplating Words as Prayer, or Words as Meditation.
Often times I discuss prayer and meditation with my spiritual friends, and of these I have a wide assortment: native and contemporary shamans, Zen priests, witches, wiccan priestesses, yogis, ministers, clergy and lay leaders from varying faiths.
A regular theme found in many forms of meditation is that of emptying the mind. Also of fixating on a single thought, chant or mantra. In these instances limiting the traveling of one’s mind. And great relief from the day’s stresses can be found in the regular practice of these.
Another form of meditation is that of Ignatian contemplative prayer. When we practice this type of prayer or meditation, we engage our imagination, allowing our thoughts to draw from our memories, to create pictures of desired futures, to open space to stimulate our minds and our hearts, resulting in the stirring of one’s thoughts and awakening of one’s heart.
I do pause to wonder how the Jesuits for whom this particular style of prayer originated would feel about my use of their theological exercise within the framework of my sacred feminine, earth nature spirituality.
While I enjoy stilling my ever-racing mind, most of my meditations involve words and the feelings they evoke to invoke. So I weave this ever unique form of reflection and creation into the palette of my artistic and spiritual practices.
With words I can formulate queries to unquestioned answers.
With words I can create landscapes to house my innermost feelings and understandings.
With words I can articulate my mind’s yearning, my Muse’s urging, my heart’s calling.
I love them.