The morning came, I opened my eyes and the song was there. Like some phantom or thief, caught when the sun came up and the light danced upon the walls. I felt desperate to hold on to the hand of this thought before, like some scurrying sand hopper, it dug itself deep into the sands of my unconscious mind to be lost forever in the ether.
I’ve read about this. Keith Richards in his autobiography Life mentions how he stirred from a dream to mutter the words “I can’t get no satisfaction.” It was in a dream that Elias Howe was awaiting death by the native’s spears when he noticed the tip of their weapons contained a single hole at the end, and when he awoke he understood the needle and thread of the sewing machine. Young Albert was sledding down a mountain, faster than the speed of light, and awoke to find E=mc2.
1/3 of life is spent sleeping. So it goes some of the most innovative theories, creations, and song lyrics have come from the havens of a good night’s rest.
“There’s an element to songwriting that I can’t explain, that comes from somewhere else. I can’t explain that dividing line between nothing and something that happens within a song, where you have absolutely nothing, and then suddenly you have something. It’s like the origin of the universe.”
I shuffled about humming the melody in my head, not really seeing lyrics, but a hazy cloud of words with a certain length and shape and sound in a series of rows. Using the voice recorder on my phone I quietly hummed the tune in repetition, as not to wake Moses from sleeping. Then I tried to focus on the words to create something that made sense but within the parameters of the sound, shape, and length that was already expanding in my mind. Geh… te…shhh… it. Then like a veil falling it all came together at once, Get the Spirit. That’s all I was trying to say.
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” -Steve Jobs
The rest of the lines followed suite as I thought of my family, how important they are to me and how they continually save me from self-defeat. I thought of old soul songs and how they articulate love. I thought back to summer vacations in South Carolina with my grandma listening to Bob Marley while the salt in the air made my lips burn.
“Rise up this mornin’,
Smile with the risin’ sun,
Three little birds
Each by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin’, ‘This is my message to you-ou-ou’. ” – Bob Marley
I keep a pen (preferably G2) and paper near my bed these days. You can too, that would be alright. In the morning try writing down the first words or images that come to mind. Then set it aside until that afternoon or evening, or whenever you will have some time to think about what possible connections there might be.
“Get the Spirit” is a new song by James & the Drifters and will be released fall 2015.