Hey friends! I’m back! Well, I was never really gone, I was just being consumed by a dreadful case of writer’s block. Turns out writing one song every week for a year is kinda hard. And tiring. For me, mostly on the lyrics end of things.
So here’s my first song in over a month. Ultimately I was saved by Anaïs Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer, who I was so lucky to be able to see last week performing their Child Ballads. The child ballads are a set of English and Scottish folk songs named after Francis James Child, the Harvard professor who compiled them. You can hear/read more about their project from their NPR interview. I was inspired by every aspect of their performance, but most of all I really got into the stories they were telling. It made me realize that there are so many amazing stories already out there that I can draw on for my lyrics. Of course this is something that musicians and composers have been doing since forever; I just have the tendency to think that everything I write has to be “purely” original – to sound unlike anything that’s ever come before it and to tell a story that’s never been heard before. I keep forgetting that that’s impossible. Every song is a synthesis of sounds that have all been made before and words that have all been said before.
So I decided to draw from one of my favorite collections of stories: the Sandman graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman (which is a perfect example of storytelling that synthesizes old material: mythology, history, Shakespeare, etc.). This particular story (without giving away too much plot) is told as an African myth about the queen of the first human city who falls in love with Morpheus, the king of dreams (or Kai’Ckul, as he was called at the time). He asks her to stay with him forever in his land of dreams, but she refuses him saying that there is no place for love in dream-land. Still, they sleep together, but since it is forbidden for a mortal and an endless (such as dream) to be together, the sun punishes them by sending a fireball to destroy the city. The queen blames herself and commits suicide. Dream then follows her to the underworld and asks her again to come with him to his dream world. She refuses again, and in his anger he sends her to hell.
SaW #18 — No Place for Love
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