what is inspiration?

Voice Memos appi could be anywhere, doing anything, when a little spark in my brain would ignite and i’d drop everything and grab a pen and start scribbling, or pick up my guitar and fiddle around with an insistent tune that i hadn’t thought of before.

this is inspiration, a spark in the brain, a buzz, motivation, and something that needs to be acted upon, else risk the possibility of losing it forever. don’t think about where the pen is, or where you left your instrument, keep that thought in your head and fumble through the house…

where does it come from?

i used to think it had little to do with me, that i was somehow channeling the music, or reiterating words delivered through the ether, like a gift from another dimension.

if that was the case, then i guess there’s always a danger of it drying up, of no longer being worthy, but i’ve come to the conclusion that once you’re on a roll things snowball. lose the initiative and things dry up.

but seriously, i’ve been playing guitar now for over 40 years; you’d think perhaps that i’ve played everything by now. at least according to my capabilities. however, it amazes me that EVERY time i sit down for a strum, without any preconception of what i’m going to play, something new pops out! how come?

who cares?

not me. i love it. my problem is remembering it! after all, i didn’t plan it, it just came out while actually playing and while in the throes of improvisation the last thing i’m thinking about is what chord or notes i’m playing. there’ve been so many times i’ve emerged from the buzz of a jam only to be immediately unable to repeat what i just played. lost forever. i can still remember the sessions, but not the music.

so thank you, sally, for giving me your iphone when you upgraded and thank you, whoever, for the voice memo app. it might not be studio quality recording, but at least when i feel like picking up my guitar, i can switch it on and forget about what i’m doing, just lose myself in the sounds i’m making. five minutes later, a day later, a week, i might remember the session, but try as i might there’s no way i’m gonna recall what i played, or the melody i hummed. however, i can turn to voice memos and there it is, rough and ready, but there as a trigger to aid my atrocious memory. saved again!

and so to illustrate a point, i’m going to upload three recordings of the same thing. they don’t do me any favours, nor do they develop into a fully-formed song, but they do demonstrate inspiration at work, as it happens, and that i find magical.

at some point i’ll return with the finished song, lyrics and all. in the meantime, here are the memos, unedited, raw…

  • first take – feeling around the notes
  • second take – bringing it back after a few days
  • third take – committing it to memory

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