Leaving Space…

I’ve been talking today about leaving space.

Initially the conversation was about songs. Musically there should be phrases and pauses for thought perhaps, depending on the type of song you write, but the songs I write benefit from a bit of air to breathe I think. I’m not a musician, so I don’t have the vocabulary for that… is it a thing that has a name?

The conversation focussed on lyrics though, and meaning. Specifically how the same set of words can mean different things to different people. This is a good thing. (All opinions here are mine, others may exist.) I like a little ambiguity in a song. A little space for a listener to insert themselves and their own experiences. It’s an investment.

I wrote a song with Michael Clarke a couple of years ago, it might even be three… among the other things we wrote, this one keeps revisiting us in the form of earworms, and visual triggers. It’s a lyric I really like, and he wrote the perfect music for it. Because of this staying power he has decided to have another play with it.

Interesting conversations ensue… is this suitable for a male vocal? Does it need editing to make it so? If so, how much and what?

Interesting not just in topic, but in the tone of it. Michael was gentle in his approach and tiptoed around me a little to start, wanting to respect my writing: “Did I mind? Is it going to be ok if…?” The answers were of course, “yes, go for it. I wouldn’t have given the sheet of paper to you if I didn’t want it touched!” I think what it came down to was that he wanted permission to find the space for himself in it. I would be extremely foolish to say no. He is brilliant, and will elevate it! We always have good chats, me and MC. About life, art, music, people… the result being that there is trust, and therefore plenty of room in this song for Michael to play. It’s not cast in stone, it isn’t a prison, it’s a tree, it can bend and stretch, it’s strong enough to take it, and so am I. I have no doubt he will do something with it that I couldn’t have imagined, and there will still be room in it for the listener.

After the Zooming ended, I put the laptop away and looked at the drawing and thought some more about leaving space.

One of the things I have loved about going abstract is the space. I’m not tied…except by my own fluctuating rules. It’s like I’ve thrown open the windows and doors and invited everyone in. There’s space for everyone to find out what it might mean to them. The words people use are fascinating. They’re different but also, kind of the same. There’s a visual, observed, acknowledged vocabulary common to all.

Veins, roads, rivers, microscopic cells, lungs, rocks, stones, planets, galaxies, plants, stems, roots, forest architecture, blood, sap, bodies, organs, joints, bubbles, corporeal, visceral, familiar but strange, tight, internal, restricted and constricted…

These things float around in my head of course, undeniably. There’s room for all of them, but there’s also room for me. The point of origin is mine. In the drawing or the songwriting the first point, and where I take it, is mine… for a while…

Over to you, Michael!


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