Some things just sounds right. We probably notice this most often with songs: something just sticks in your head. Song’s don’t have to be clever, long or sophisticated to be great, they just need to make you tap your feet and want to sing along. Something about consuming great music makes it both an individual and a group activity. On the one hand, solitary and intellectual, on the other, dynamic, public and instinctive.
Some words just feel right. There’s no other way of explaining it. They just capture the moment, express the feeling, create the atmosphere in a way that you can’t imagine being done in any other way.
One hundred years ago today, the song ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’, was written. It was sung by British soldiers in the First World War as they marched into Flanders, and it’s still being sung today. It’s not a complicated song, but something about it resonates. Indeed, someone called it ‘part of our national culture’.
Creativity can involve paint, clay, steel or words. It’s a venture that is unrestricted by medium, and songwriting is, for me, up with the best of it.
My friend released her first album yesterday (www.cathburke.co.uk). Hearing it come together has made me thing about this, about how words come together to sound just right. They can be of the moment, but last forever. Songs are usually things that we feel have permanence, but they are, strangely, as transient as the wind, which, if you think about it, is what the version we hear is made of. Tiny disturbances in the air, coming together to create music. Songs, like stories, can be told, retold and adapted. Or covered as we like to call it in the music industry.
Hearing the journey that Cath’s album has made, from ideas, through half formed, busked versions, through to the recording studio and the stamp of permanence, has been like watching the evolution of an idea. Although part of me wanted to say like pinning a butterfly to a page, because although a song may be covered and played live, it feels like the moment you record it, it becomes ‘a thing’. It stops evolving and just is.
Creativity is a dynamic process, with any work of art worked and reworked until it feels right. I feel this with painting, where long ago i discovered that the trick is not making yourself start, it’s knowing when to stop. If you work a picture too long, it loses it’s power. I guess it’s the same with songs, although i haven’t written one yet, so i’m not so sure.
And where did all the willpower go? Well, that’s the infuriatingly catchy song from the album that lodged in my head when she first played it live and refuses to go away now it’s found the improved status of sitting on the album. Some things just sound right.