(Song) Writers’ Block
I can’t play any instruments —
can’t hold a note without it turning querulous —
can’t even play a three-note song on the guitar —
but I dated a drummer for a little while, so that makes me qualified to talk about this.
None of these are inherently poetic subjects, but they work.
Sir Mix-a-Lot, Meghan Trainor, Shel Silverstein, and the Violent Femmes can attest to the fact that a good song can make money, even when it’s about something that everybody might not necessarily find interesting. You don’t have to spend 24 hours a day on /r/trees to enjoy Slightly Stoopid; you don’t even need to own a cat to love Best Coast. Ultimately, the subject of a song is not what makes it worthy.
And, you songwriters:
You know that.
You know you could pen up some lyrics about going to high school with robots; that some people might even love a song like that. You know you would never question the validity of someone else writing about Harry Potter, but would tell yourself that it’s stupid.
These are silly subjects, but they somehow work — so why is it, songwriters, that you doubt your own ability to make subjects you care about compelling? About life, about love, about Taco Bell? About heartbreak and fear and the universal human experience?
Where would we be if Belle and Sebastian never went out on an emotional limb with "Meat and Potatoes”? What is a world without this, without some chronicle of how awkward and fumbling and amateurish that two people trying out kinky sex can be? What if David Bowie decided that writing about astronauts was a dumb idea? If Nirvana thought that nobody would care about their weird stream-of-consciousness songs describing Courtney Love’s vagina?
So go, you brave musicians. Take your pencils and guitars and write about Sasquatch, about romantic rejection, loneliness, lullabies. Write a song about grief or about your child, or even just about getting the munchies.
It doesn’t matter what you write.
But do it.
The world needs more people to create.