I am reading this book at the moment called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, in it she talks about ideas being a “disembodied, energetic life-form.” She goes on to say: “ideas spend eternity swirling around us, searching for available and willing human partners.” I really love this analogy. I think any creative person who has ever created something will understand that mystical, magical feeling of not really knowing where it came from and certainly not feeling like it came from you; That feeling that it was indeed some sort of outer body experience that you had little control over. Elizabeth tells the story of an American Poet named Ruth Stone whom she met with when she was nearly 90 years old. Ruth recalled to Elizabeth how she would experience ideas: “she would sometimes hear a poem coming towards her- hear it rushing across the landscape at her, like a galloping horse. Whenever this happened, she knew exactly what she had to do next: She would “run like hell” toward the house, trying to stay ahead of the poem, hoping to get to a piece of paper and pencil fast enough to catch it. That way when the poem reached her and passed through her, she would be able to grab it and take dictation, letting the words pour forth onto the page.” Now, just as Elizabeth goes on to say, not every idea comes to you like this, sometimes it is a hard old slog and you have to sit there prising it out of yourself, exploring many different avenues before you get there. Both of those are true for my song ‘Four Weeks’.
From the first day I began writing music I wanted to write a song about losing my Dad to cancer. I wanted to capture the joy I got from the 11 years I spent with my Father and also the pain I felt when he passed. I wanted to set my feelings free into the world for no other reason than I could; I am a songwriter this is my therapy and this is how I exist. I have several, very awful attempts and several very awful songs that I have banished to the land where no one hears. It wasn’t until I stopped trying to write this song that I had my ‘Ruth Stone moment’; Sat in Rhys’ (my co-writer) living room having a writing session for a whole other song; Rhys played a few chords on the piano and something just rushed through me, I could hear it coming and with an air of panic and excitement I just said to Rhys; “Keep Playing that” I moved closer to the piano and put pen to paper, writing the lyrics in pretty much the exact order and state in which they now reside. The melody too just flowed from us both! We couldn’t believe what was happening or how it was happening; the song I had been trying to write for years and years was finally being written, right in front of me, and I didn’t really know where it was coming from!
To this day, that song still has its very own life. I cannot take credit for it for I feel, just like Elizabeth does, that it came from some external forces outside of me. It speaks to people still, the way that it spoke to me that day and whilst it has a very real connection to me and it is without a doubt the most personal and emotionally exposing song I have ever written (Read my open letter to my deceased Dad), it still speak to others as if it were written for them, about them… and I believe it was! The reaction I get when people hear it forever cements this belief of mine.
People would always talk to me after gigs about the song and divulge their inner thoughts about their most personal experiences. I also began to receive messages from people who had heard it online:
“Four Weeks is the most beautiful song, I’m sorry you lost your dad, I have too and that song is a comfort somehow.“
“…I haven’t been allowed or had chance to grieve and I was the most surprised when tears started rolling down my cheeks and the memories I’d hidden away came flooding back. Seriously, even today I’m feeling a bit released from the pain I’d been hiding… Anyway I’ll try and put into words but didn’t think I’d be in a position to thank someone I hardly know for genuinely helping me sort of move on in so many ways… and if I never see you again, for what ever reason, I thank you…“
I feel a deep sense of joy when receiving these messages but not in an egotistical way. I feel in no way responsible for the comfort and release that these people and others have experienced from Four Weeks. I just feel joy that whatever external force it was that wrote this song, it came me that day and Rhys and I were able to give it life. Elizabeth says; “Ideas are driven by a single impulse; to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner.” I am not the only person to have lost their Dad to cancer, nor am I the only songwriter to go through that so I thank that idea for choosing me as its collaborator.
After many years of writing songs… I began to feel a little self involved in my music, always writing about my heartache, my own experience of the world and the journey I am on. These messages and conversations I had as a result of Four Weeks, gave me another idea (Maybe this was why Four Weeks was written): Music is an outlet for me, a therapy if you will, Four Weeks has given people that same outlet even though it was not directly written about their experience. That is the beauty of music, I know we all know that feeling, when you listen to a song and it’s as if it was written about you! But what if it was, what if they had the opportunity to tell their story through a song. Release their daemons into the world through music, delve deeply into their journey during the writing process and discover things about themselves that they never knew, let go of things they didn’t know they were still holding onto and share their pain with others who may, like Four Weeks, have experienced something similar…
So I set out in search of stories, in search of people, in search of songs…