Songwriting Requires Inspiration (at least for me!)

I remember when I was playing in roots-rock and alt-country bands 20+ years ago. I could easily write a song each week that I was happy enough to perform live with the band. If I were to have taken one of those “song a day” challenges back then, I would have had no problem with the task at-hand.

For the past few years, more like the past decade, that talent has slowly left me. I still write, or try to write, but it is not as easy. A lot of it has to do with inspiration. Back then, I was hitting bars, visiting places, working with a lot of other musicians, and soaking up the experiences. Ever since I started caregiving my mother when my father passed away seven years ago, which is a full-time job along with my regular full-time job, I have lost a lot of creativity. I am lucky to go out to a show once every three months, my employment is most of my social life, and other than weekly church attendance, I do very little for myself as far as outside activity is concerned.

I started to realize that the need to “get out of the house” for my songwriting a few years back, but it has really hit me within the past few months. COVID took away a lot of that socializing for two years, but the problem was, I got used to staying home and doing very little to stimulate my songwriting. You can only write so much about staying home, and no one wants to hear about that in a song anyway.

I have a songwriting notebook, and right now there are about a dozen bits and pieces of songs in it that I try to re-visit every few days to get re-inspired. I was actually inspired a few days ago with a new song idea at work yesterday. A few lines are floating around in my head, but nothing big. But today (Saturday) is my busy day shopping for mom and the week’s food/supplies. Add to that I have a colonoscopy exam on Monday, so Sunday will be spent taking laxatives and starving. I may get some songwriting done in between trips to the bathroom!

I have tried the route of disciplining myself to sit and write for a few minutes each day no matter what the situation. For a while, I would wake up every morning, randomly open up the dictionary and put my finger down on a word, then write about it for 10 minutes non-stop. Even that didn’t help after a while, I seemed to be writing about my same complaints no matter what word came up.

I definitely need more inspiration. Hopefully this summer things will change. I plan to hit more bluegrass festivals, and perhaps attend a songwriting camp that I believe I mentioned a few blogs back. I need to just jump in my car and drive somewhere. I haven’t visited Nashville in over two years. I would love to go back, I should plan on it this summer. My Songwriters Anonymous group plans to start meeting up live again next month (it has been on Zoom for the past two years, and I do not have a great connection for it on my computer internet system), so perhaps that will motivate me in some way.

I hope to find a co-writer that I can work with regularly soon as well. The few good co-writes that I have done have been with people out of town, and our work has been over the phone or emailing back and forth. I have not found anyone in my area that I am compatible with and is determined to write quality bluegrass music. I am not saying there are not great songwriters in my area. Honestly, I get humbled many times when I go to the Songwriters Anonymous meetings and someone performs a song that floors me. I am just not finding anyone that meshes with my style.

I end this blog with a video from my Kitchen Koncert series. The song is “Brown-Eyed Soldier,” co written with my “bluegrass kid sister,” Vickie Vaughn, who is currently the bass player for bluegrass bands Della Mae and High Fidelity. Recorded during the pandemic lockdown, I attempted to give it a Jerry Garcia acoustic feel.

Chew on it and comment.