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Gentle Rebellion

An Odd Experience of Creative Barf

People often ask me about my song-writing process; whether I write lyrics, melodies, chords etc first. I tell them it depends to which song they are referring because it is pretty much always different and I have no formula, I just strike when the muse is hot.

Well I had another strange song-writing experience two days ago. It was the first time I’ve ever written a song in one take and as an immediate reflex to an outburst of emotion.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rossimlach/

It started when I heard Michael Gove on the radio talking about the rise in the amount universities could charge for tuition fees up to £9000 per year. He was essentially saying that despite starting life with £27,000 of debt (plus accruing interest) a university education still gives you the best possible entrance into the work place and that the new system would be fairer to people from poorer backgrounds. His rhetoric was infused with such a strong drive for competition, pitting universities against universities, schools against schools, families against families and students against students. It upset me.

I pulled the local paper from the letterbox downstairs. It stated boldly in its headline that 1800 jobs would be lost in the local council due to governmental cuts.

I had also been hearing from friends about job cuts that their places of work were facing, and get this, they are even in the private sector – yes, that’s right – the very industries charged with bringing salvation to the country after the big evil government is finally eradicated were not immune. Even the private sector had to put the needs of shareholders, bonus-takers and the bottom line before workers and their families on this occasion.

There seemed to be a huge disconnect between numbers and humanity. Between things adding up on paper, balance sheets looking prettier, and the fact that thousands of families would be left unable to cope. This was exemplified nowhere better than the House of Commons during George Osborne’s CSR, when the Punch and Judy politics of Parliament saw jeering, laughing and pointing in abundance during arguments between frankly immature children over real decisions with real implications, affecting real families. No one looked like they cared about anyone but themselves and getting one over on their political opposition.

It was not the political issues that had got to me so much as the lack of empathy or even authentic sympathy in the way that these decisions were being made.

This had all obviously been building inside of me and as I went for a shower I started humming a melody, which quickly turned into a line of lyrics. It was going round and round until eventually I had to call time on the shower and grab my guitar. So desperate was the situation to capture the song that I didn’t have time to put clothes on. I was naked, pacing around my house with the guitar covering my bare essentials, singing a song that I had never heard before but felt like had always existed. It was really weird.

I managed to record it into my phone and wrote down exactly what I had sung. It was fortunate because I was busy for the next two days and would only get time the following evening to record it properly (it was about 7.30am).

Last night I did get round to recording it. It didn’t take long. I didn’t change anything, just added a few instruments, some extra vocals etc, but lyrics and structure were exactly the same as when I had nakedly written it the previous morning.

I’m not sure I will ever write a song like this again. I’ve never done it before. It felt like I was puking up something from within me as a reflex to something that my heart was rejecting. This is why I wanted to just put it out there straight away warts and all. It got me thinking, wondering whether this is something we can train ourselves to do – to channel our anger into creative streams. It didn’t really feel like something I had much control over but who knows.

I’m sharing it not as a political message but as something that says we are not alone. We don’t have to compete with one another. In fact we will be stronger as people if we don’t. We are not just numbers on a balance sheet. We are not just dispensable expenses. We are people.

I hope you like it.

The Bottom Line

Well nobody is perfect,
But shit rises up.
It builds a roof for all of us underneath the top.
Forget it in the background,
Let its goodness fall.
Levelling the prize down, to benefit us all.

What am I worth to you if I’m alive?
What am I worth to you?

Please sir, did I meet the bottom line or am I dispensable?
Did I meet the bottom line?
Did I tow your party line or was I reprehensible?
Did I tow the party line?

I got a call from daylight,
It seems I’m running late.
I leave my brain inside the drawer over by the gate.

What am I worth to you if I’m alive?
What am I worth to you?

Please sir, did I meet the bottom line or am I dispensable?
Did I meet the bottom line?
Did I tow your party line or was I reprehensible?
Did I tow the party line?

I can see you up there in your big golden tower.
I can see you up there in your big golden tower.
What you doing up there in your big golden tower?
What you doing up there in your big golden tower?
Trying to reach God, trying to reach God.
What you doing up there in your big golden tower?
Hiding from God, hiding from God.

What am I worth to you if I’m alive?
What am I worth to you?

Please sir, did I meet the bottom line or am I dispensable?
Did I meet the bottom line?
Did I tow your party line or was I reprehensible?
Did I tow the party line?

Andy Mort

Andy Mort is a UK based musician and writer. He is the founder of Sheep Dressed Like Wolves: a Blog and Podcast helping introverts and highly sensitive people recognise and embrace their creativity; and identify what is holding them back from living with the passion, purpose, and meaning they seek in a sometimes overwhelming world.

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