Where the heck did that come from?

Dinosaur David BDinosaur David B Posts: 18,275
edited December 1969 in Songwriting
There have been some earlier threads here in the songwriting area about one's songwriting inspirations (conscious and/or not), and since I seem to be out of my long creative drought -- undoubtedly due to a new musical project, I thought I'd resurrect the idea a bit, cause I've come up with some new stuff and I'm noticing some shit that ain't been there before!

I have been mostly collaborating with Amy, and when I do, that process typically takes the following form:

1) Dave picks up a guitar (usually acoustic), with no thought or forewarning that he is about to write a song.
2) With absolutely NOTHING in mind, no preconceived goal, no riff or melody in his head, Dave begins playing whatever comes. And usually, if something's going to happen, it happens in the first few minutes.
3) Amy hears whatever riff or progression I've played and says: "What is that?" Dave says: "I don't know, it just came to me out of the blue." Amy says: "I like that. Let's work on that"  And we're off. 

Later, we may determine who inspired the idea, and recently, I've been sort of surprised by those inspirations. 

Of course, I freely acknowledge that often when I come up with stuff on my own -- ESPECIALLY on acoustic, there seems to be an extremely pervasive Page/Zeppelin influence in my ideas -- whether I like it or not. Those of you who remember So Far to Go will know what I'm talking about. Amy and I just recently indulged in another song that has pretty obvious Zep-inspired ideas for the new project. The challenge in those cases -- as always -- is to not overdo it and become Kingdom Come.

But anyway, on these other things that came up that were (to me) less-expected.  In the nice weather, we spend a lot of time kicking back with a drink, listening to music out on our 2nd floor balcony porch, which we have basically turned into a Tiki lounge.  It is very relaxing, and a great place to enjoy conversation with good weather. We always have music going, but it is very rarely anything "Dino" or heavy. The music is usually in the background and not sonically demanding of your attention. The idea is to RELAX. To converse! So we listen to quieter things.  We have found that the perfect music for this environment tends to be sonically diverse rock music from the 70s, and guitar that is at least as much acoustic as it is electric. Anyway, some of this stuff is seeping into my subconscious writer mind.  The last two non-Zeppish song ideas I contributed seem to have been partially inspired by David Bowie and, of all people Neil Young and/or CSNY.  :shock:

The Bowie influence doesn't surprise me TOO much. I like some Bowie a lot (not all of it), so I can see where that may have seeped in. The Young/CSNY stuff is harder to figure. YES, I have spent some time listening to Deja Vu and Harvest out on the porch. But not THAT much.  I basically spent much of my life actively avoiding that stuff like the plague. CSNY was never my vibe, and I despise Neil Young when he plays electric. I actually don't mind his acoustic work, but I haven't spent much time listening to it either.

So imagine my surprise to find out that these influences were in my song ideas -- TOTALLY subconsciously.  I actually thought they were somewhat original and organic.  But when Amy heard them, she said she heard the respective influences, and she'd know better cause she is far more familiar with those artists. 

Anyway, despite the subconscious influence of the initial spark of an idea, once written, the two songs didn't really end up sounding anything like the songs of the respective artists. At least in my opinion. The Zep-ish one . . .  that influence seems impossible to escape.  :ohwell:
I threw me guitar out. Why bother? Why bother? Use it as a coffee table. Because I can't play it like that. 
-- David St. Hubbins.


  • yngwie666yngwie666 Posts: 6,557
    That's cool if you can compose songs on the spot like that, using the background music influences. I gave up a long time ago, because anything  I would come up with sounded like existing riffs played at another speed or key.
  • Smiling - thinking of Tenacious D in P.O.D. :)
  • HaffnerHaffner Posts: 8,001
    I had a outlandishly obvious Blackmore thing, and I just got tired of it. And that's the way I started breaking away from it. I got tired of seeing all the dressed-in-Blackmore clones out there, making music just like him, never coming any where near to what he truly represented: a completely distinctive lead guitar and riffing style. I realized that the distinctive sound is exactly what I wanted, not the Blackmore 70s dress up, and to be honest I got a little wore out on Blackmore, period. I went 25 years being obsessed with his early bands, and I burnt it out, as well as the sky high esteem I had for certain people that worked with him. For you it's Page, and I can't help but hope you'll start burning him out as well Dave. You have too much talent to have anyone predominating your writing or playing. It doesn't mean the guy isn't great, or you don't love his music and will always. I think that's unavoidable. But you are your own man, and you have enough on your own to make great music.

    Last year I started noticing little things in my writing that were more Pop than I would have like to admit, and traced them back to bands I never would have guessed or even really liked (whom will remain unnamed). Bands that came on the radio in the 80s and I really didn't have too much time for. But the subconscious influence was there.

    I now see it as a very positive thing, and have embraced it. It's helped my music, not that my music is destined to ever rise above the mediocre.
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