***moosebutter sundries : THE MUSE
We're often asked about where our song ideas come from. Tim replies, adapted from a reply given to Eric McDonald for the Daily Universe, Provo, UT.
"I hate to say it, but most songs develop in a really pedestrian matter. I'm a
writer of lots of things, music and otherwise, and I just write down ideas for
songs, books, symphonies, educational programs, paintings or whatever as they
come. The good ones usually stick with me, and I just work them out in a
fairly straight-forward manner. For moosebutter songs, I hope they're funny,
and singable. If they're not, they go away. Some songs, ala Harry Potter,
have been written very delibrately to tap into a cultural / commercial success.
Most are just ideas. The inspiration usually comes in the finishing process -
I have dozens and dozens of song ideas hanging about in notebooks, on scraps of
paper on my desk, in my head, or inked on my hand. Every once-in-a-while I'll
have a new piece of a song, or the one element that was missing, or a key rhyme
that completes a verse and makes the completion of the song possible, pop into
my head, and then from there it's a matter of strapping a saddle onto the crazy
muse and trying to get everything written down or recorded before I lose it. I
finish songs in gushes like that, and my wife and kids know to just get out of
the way and wait until the floodgates close. My wife's a writer, of novels,
and the same thing happens to her sometimes, so we take turns.
That's how I'd describe the writing process for me - riding on the back of The
Muse, who I imagine as a great, angry bucking flea, me with my pencil in one hand and
the saddle horn and a wad of staff paper in the other, trying to scribble
everything down before I'm flung off and wake up dusty and sweaty with no
recollection of how I came to be under this rack of discount pants at Wal*Mart.
All the finishing work - filling in the lyrics, filling out chords, making sure
everyone's parts work, finishing all the words for lyrics - is just busy work.
Any song that I'm sure is going to work will have some period when The Muse
strikes. Sometimes that strike doesn't happen until the studio, sometimes it's right when the song comes, but it always come (*the preceding statement is unverifiable and may be retracted).
And in case you think the image of The Muse as a flea is weird, trust me, The
Muse is UGLY. And takes no prisoners, and shows no mercy. And I'm usually
sore, and exhausted, after we wrestle.