You might think that the words written along with songs just come easily and flow right out, but they don’t. For me, song lyrics are written intentionally to represent what is going on in my life, what is going on with others, and what is going on in the world. Although they may be written poetically and as idioms, there is always meaning behind the lyrics of my blues songs.
Inspired by a Miter Saw
Sometimes I come up with song lyrics at the most random times. For instance, one of my favorite songs, “Simplify” was written when we were expecting our first child. We were working on the baby’s room, preparing it with some woodworking projects such as crown molding as well as window and door trim. I was working with my brand new miter saw in the workshop to get the angles just right when the lyrics for that song came to me. Of course, they didn’t come out all at once, but the ideas instilled themselves in my mind during this time.
I thought about how much effort we were putting in to planning for this tiny little person who hadn’t arrived yet. With baby showers, room decoration, hospital tours, doctor visits, and birthing plans, there certainly is a great deal of time, effort, and money which goes into the preparation of a baby’s arrival.
Not How it Used to Be
Then I was thinking about how that’s not the way it used to be (or is still in some less developed parts of the world). It used to be that women were pregnant, they went about their typical work at home and in the fields, if applicable. Families who lived in huts or tents weren’t going about buying baby monitors so they could leave their children in another room. They didn’t head over to the Baby Superstore to purchase each new-fangled invention so that their baby’s precious bottom didn’t have to come into contact with cold diaper wipes or baby didn’t have to go to sleep without a mobile with lights and music.
The world was simpler then. The preparation would probably consist of notifying the midwife (which was likely a mother or aunt or other family member) and cutting up a few rags to serve as diapers or blankets. Possibly, just possibly, a more settled family would have the father or other family member fashion a wooden cradle or crib for the baby. Maybe some knitting or other weaving work might take place to keep the baby warm. And that was that.
As I was cutting wood with my miter saw, I realized that our baby was not going to care if the cuts were at the proper angle, or even if there was wood trim in the room at all. The baby would only need love and affection, and have his simple needs met. The rest of it is the turmoil we put ourselves through to make sure everything is perfect.
Sure, we want our kids’ lives to be perfect, but that’s probably not reality. So if we start them out in perfection, giving them everything they want all of the time, catering to their every whim in this perfect bubble we’ve put them in, we may find that they are not prepared for the real world where everything doesn’t go exactly as planned.
So I started asking myself these questions about why we have taken something as simple as a baby and mucked it up into something so complicated. Who are we doing it for? The baby? Nope. We are doing it to and for ourselves. Why? Because we care about perfectly cut mitered corners? I don’t really think so.
I think it is because we are afraid of not being in control. We are afraid of what will happen if the baby comes and we aren’t prepared. So we try to think of everything, and in doing so we make ourselves crazy. But we feel more in control. In reality, though, even if the corners are cut just right it won’t make us better parents. And we might as well learn early that parenting is not for the faint of heart or those who need to control things. When it comes to another human being, even a very small one, we find that we cannot (nor should we) control them (and therefore our circumstances) as easily as we once could.
The unpredictability of life with a baby is what makes it such an adventure. So when I wrote “Simplify”, I was writing it from my heart as a sort of a promise to let go of the control and perfection, instead endeavoring to just love my baby the best way that I could at the time.
This is just one example of how I was inspired by a seemingly mundane moment and developed it into a deep and heartfelt song about something meaningful to myself and to the world. Hopefully this little glimpse into my head and life is helpful in seeing how I come up with lyrics for my blues music.