Last summer I decided to go back to my roots as a songwriter and write more poetically, like one would do in an individual solo act. I had gotten into the rut (a good problem to have) of writing solely for a five-piece group that I had formed a while back. I loved writing in this format/style and will continue to do so, but the problem was that all my focus was engaged upon it alone. I missed writing in a broad format and more importantly playing solo acoustic shows. This is more intimate–a place where I can engage with the audience more, feed off of them and create dialogue in-between songs.
Problems are all relative and will always be there; I just need to choose the right ones to focus on. Mark Manson said it best when he stated that “Happiness is a constant work-in-progress, because solving problems is a constant work-in-progress. The solutions to today’s problems will lay the foundation for tomorrow’s problems, and so on. True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving” (author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”). I couldn’t have said it more elegantly myself. I’ve rolled this into the back of my mind more than once and it’s so true! Once we accept that our problems never go away we can then start to play them like chess pieces, managing our time more efficiently and juggling what is most important to us. For example, I’d like to see my parents more often so I make Sundays the day that I go visit them. Sure, I lose an hour and a half with drive time and won’t have time to visit the gym like I normally do, but seeing them is more important to me. This is the same with what I was saying before about changing my writing style. Before, I wasn’t able to focus on saying everything that I wanted to say with the shorter “band” writing format. When you write for a band there are less words because most of the song time is devoted to catchy hooks, introductions and solos instead of worded bridges. By shifting to solo songwriting, I’m left with less time to write new songs for my band, but as a result can focus more on writing poetically and performing more fulfilling shows as an individual.
Here’s one song that I integrated this concept into:
Track of Hope
I’ve been thinking carelessly about how my life could have been
If there wasn’t any consequence at all
I’d have no wisdom supporting my spine
There would be nothing to look forward to big or small
And I check, check, check these checks and balances
And I live the life that I surmount to lead
All the problems that stack up are always relevant
Don’t give up the mountains that we’ve climbed and seen
Oh, oh! My happiness is in the struggle
Oh, oh! To Love the process not the result
Oh, oh! This is merely just an endless cycle
Oh, oh! Don’t ever lose your track of hope
When I was a young boy I was taught to hold my head up high
But solving all my problems only complicates what gets me by
The rut I strut is in my head, a lesson learned in time they said
But tomorrow is a blank canvas, just waiting to be touched
Frantic fear is an illusion, rattled nerves until proven
That your instincts are merely products of the past
So let me roll out of my bed, start the day fresh again
Maybe this new concept will last....
There’s more to the song, but I think you get the gist. Sometimes writing styles change and as a rule of thumb we must adapt to this change by challenging ourselves to grow in the process. In my case, I decided to write a solo song about an excerpt I had a connection with from Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”.
In the future, I will share more songs. Whether those songs are about a concept, an experience, or even a story I’ve heard I’ll explain how these apply to the writing process as a singer songwriter as we go.
Until next time, what “good problems” are you facing? Are you choosing the right ones and are you happy as a result?
P.S. – If you’d like to take a listen to a live version of the song, click the link below.