I’ve been going on about my creative process as it pertains to the band lately, and where ideas come from and how they evolve. I harbor no delusions that hordes of HAD fans are clamoring to know where our ideas come from and where they’re going (though perhaps I should check my email again), but I know I sure as hell find it fascinating.
Anyway, we’ve recently been featuring the new video (an awesome piece of found-art storytelling from our own Dusty Haze) for our 2011 single “Maribelle.” This song serves as a good example of all this idea generation stuff. One night last spring, I picked up a guitar and, after the requisite, absent noodling, spontaneously sang a chorus I’d never heard before, much less sung. In that somewhat eerie moment, it came out pretty much the same as it is now.
That same night, I got this image in my head, and over the next few weeks, obsessed over the song and drawing this monstrosity on a six-foot tall piece of heavy paper duct taped to the wall of my garage, titling it (what else?) “Maribelle.”
Mind you, I’m not trying to say that I somehow became a magical conduit for some kind of multimedia masterpiece here. I’m actually lousy at gauging how my efforts might hit others’ eyes/ears, and every day I see and hear things that make me envious and incredulous of their creators (often my bandmates). I guess it’s that I look at the Maribelle thing as artistically successful because it reveals something significant to me – something of which I was previously unaware – all without the application of deadly force (which has killed more than one infant idea for me over the years). Of course, it sure don’t hurt that those aforementioned bandmates are so integral to bringing every song to life.
I suppose I’m saying that, for all my talk about process, I still don’t know where a lot of my ideas come from. I know where my shitty ideas come from, i.e. usually laboriously pried from my own stubborn cerebral cortex. But the ideas I like – the all-too-rare ones that seem to cut to the jelly-filled center of things – I don’t really know. Like I said, they’re all scribbled in these battered sketchbooks, but I rarely seem to remember the circumstances under which they were scribbled, and often don’t remember scribbling them at all.
I have to wonder if, like matter and energy, art and ideas can be neither created nor destroyed… if every idea, good or bad, has always existed and always will… if they’re just floating there for the taking, provided you’re open to them. My favorite (and rarest) moments as a songwriter have been the times I’m playing something and listening to it – doing both for the first time, as though I was someone else saying to me, “hey, tell me what you think of this…”
I guess all this is hardly a revolutionary notion, but – as a friend of mine is fond of saying – I like to think about stuff sometimes.