One Difficulty Of Being A Songwriter And A Whole Person

A long time ago I heard a theory that stuck with me, someone was talking about how singers who are former addicts stop writing good music (which is true) and this person figured it was because once you’ve recovered from the massive highs and lows of addiction it’s scary to feel anything that deeply again, so the songwriting gets tame.

It’s something I think about a lot and it seems poignant right now. Because I’m working on myself as they say in therapy, I’m getting up on time, doing yoga, making sure to eat to keep my mood stable, doing chores everyday, scratching things of my to-do lists that have been laying around for months, mediating on forgiveness and acceptance. I’m in the best mental and emotional shape of my life in a stable way as opposed to just being on a manic high. So when I sing songs like Sad Ends To Old Friends it starts off feeling a bit hollow and insincere but by the end I’m dragged back to where I was when I wrote it. Songs are time portals, that’s one thing I love about them, but when you’re not in pain, when you’re focusing on finding inner peace and satisfaction, it’s scary to make yourself feel old, negative emotions.

But I guess it’s important not to deny those things, happiness isn’t pretending we were never sad, and since I think of my songs as my biography it’s important not to gloss over the difficult chapters.

Then the next problem is, as all songwriters know, trying to write happy songs that aren’t stupid. Frank Turner said it best “When you’re happy you just go about being happy, it doesn’t enter your head to write a song because being happy is more fun.”

I am working on new songs a bit right now while I’m still focused on Minimum Wage Music and not surprisingly they’re still pretty sad and I’m struggling because I don’t want to dip into the vast reservoir of sadness and risk derailing myself just for some songs people will hear for free, smile, and walk away.

But if songwriting is really all that I am I’ll have to find a way to reconcile. It’s too soon to turn into Eric Clapton and putting out shlock for the next 20 years.


Singer/songwriter, jerk.

Posted in Depression & Suicide, Pragmatism, Songwriting
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