My tortoise ran away yesterday. When I say he ran away, I mean my dad let him out of his fence. Dad likes to let Simon graze in the yard, but got sidetracked and forgot about him until after dark. We spent a good while looking for the 80 lbs African Sulcada with flashlights up and down the property to no avail and eventually decided to give up the search. Then this morning I decided to look underneath the truck parked right next to his area. Low and behold; there he was! He’d hunkered down for the night.
My creative mind instantly formed a metaphor (if you know me you know I never met a phor I didn’t like). In songwriting, I find that often I spend a ton of time searching for the perfect lyric, only to find that the one that works best was close to my initial idea. It’s easy to go down rabbit trails (see what I did there….tortoise…hare..?), opening up rhyming dictionaries and reconstructing every syllable, redefining meanings and setting. But there’s something about going with your gut that usually cuts through all the extra stuff. The best ideas usually are the most intuitive and obvious, and sometimes fighting against that first instinct can lead to unnecessary work. Before I get going too fast down the road of idea-dom I’d do well to remind myself that getting a good line doesn’t always mean getting bent out of shape. Time and time again I’ve found great lyrics are often simple and the ones that at first I was afraid to accept because [insert reason].
One thing that keeps my mind churning for better lyrics constantly is the fact that there are a lot of mediocre (and even terrible) lyrics out there, some written by yours truly. So that being a real concern, it is important to be selective and not settle. The problem for me is that I swing the pendulum too far the other way where nothing is good enough. It’s like the old adage says; half a loaf is better than none. So we keep baking, keep searching, keep mixing metaphors till we have results that we’re (at least halfway) proud of. TLDR; the best ideas will usually land close to home. Just like my tortoise.