Monday, May 11, 2009

Post 16: Highway 61 Revisited

In early April I took off with suitcase and guitar in hand like a poet and a one man band. Next stop was not Greenwich Village but the village of Cambridge. I planned to use the solitude of my brief bachelor existence to crank out some new songs. Well, I’ve come up with a few chord progressions and riffs, but somehow I haven’t been able to dredge up ideas for new diddys. I’ve reach deep into the dark recesses of my mind to break out of the crippling shackles of consciousness. I’ve tried deep breathing and meditation to allow exalted-consciousness to help me out. No matter where I’ve gone, there’s been nothing there. Nada. The well is dry. The pump empty.

I’ve only got two weeks left, but I’m determined to get at least one song out before I’m homeward bound. So tonight I sought inspiration externally. Off to the open mic at the Corner House where I hadn’t been since my first Sunday in Cambridge over a month ago. I thought there was a good chance I’d see some quality singer-song writers and maybe would get a boost from them.

Shortly after arriving, I notice Chris Cassboult. I wrote about Chris in Post 3. He did some excellent numbers my first time at the Corner House and I was sure he would jump start my synaptic juices tonight.

First up was Ed Hope and Friends. He only had one friend, a lass thumping a stand up bass, tonight. Ed himself got some amazing sounds out of cutest little guitar I’ve ever seen. He’s got a very nice voice, something like Glen Hansard, the guy who did the Oscar winning music from the Irish film Once. He also had some nice songs. Inspiration building. After them was a solo artist whose name I didn’t get, followed by Chris.

Chris did some powerful songs again tonight. Unfortunately, the crowd had started to chat, rather loudly too, just as he started. Still, his performance was very strong, especially the haunting rendition of Highway 61 Revisited. It reminded me of a really moving version of Elvis’s Viva Las Vegas that he did last time. Hard to imagine the flip Viva Las Vegas being described as moving, but it was.

So I’m hoping to channel the energy from Ed and his Friend and Chris’ Highway 61 Revisited (and a little inspiration from Dylan while I’m at it) to discover a new song or two. Song writing seems sort of like that, discovering something that already exists and you just have to find it. Reminds me of the selectionist view of brain development. In the extreme this theory says that everything we can possibly know is already in our brains, and we just have to eliminate ideas (by eliminating synapses) in order to gain knowledge. I’m actually not a big fan of this theory, or at least I didn’t think I was. But maybe I am since I just said that song writing is sort of like that. Maybe that idea about song writing was in fact in my brain all along, just waiting for a little synaptic pruning to reveal it.

Well, it’s too late to get started tonight but I’m hoping tomorrow I’ll find some lyrics to go with those chord progressions and riffs that I’ve already discovered.

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