I read a lot of poetry. I've studied it a bit, but mainly I just read it and occasionally write some. I am inspired by poetry and tend to feel like my brain has opened into its own space after I have read even a small amount. My favourite book is an ex-library copy of 'The Oxford Anthology of English Poetry'. I borrowed it so many times that they put the copy for sale for 30p with my thumb marks all over it. I like to randomly open a page and see what I find.
My James Watt song was the first I have written with some kind of poetry response (to William Wordsworth's London . I am usually of the opinion that poetry and songwriting are two very different things, although I have recently been studying the overlap in the form of Natalie Merchant's 'Leave your sleep' which sets poetry to music. In fact it was when watching '10,000 Maniacs unplugged' that I became aware that you could use literature as inspiration for songs. Merchants song 'Hey Jack Kerouac' inspired me to read 'On the Road', and her reading of a historical clipping in her precursor to 'Goldrush Brides' led me to broaden my songwriting beyond just what I have experienced firsthand.
I recently wrote a song with Arran Kerr using three stimuli: A Kerouac quote, a picture of an old rusty truck and a stuffed black crow. Arran plays amazing bluesy guitar and I was let loose on moody lyrics that I love. It was thoroughly enjoyable trying out Karouac's 'stream of consciousness' style of writing and working with a musician so versatile that he can change he playing and the colour of the chords to work with the lyric so perfectly. When we have recorded it properly I shall add it below!
Watch this space!
I think I probably read more than I listen to music - at least recorded music. I am out so much that a lot of what I listen to is live, but often original music too. I'm also a bit obsessed with tracking backwards. I played a gig recently and a gentleman handed me a receipt afterwards with lots of names that I hadn't heard of written on the back. He said that some of them reminded him of me and others I would simply do beautifully. Those are my favourite kinds of post-gig interactions. I'm learning that many of the people at live music, not only love music, but also play music and that their knowledge and experience is invaluable.
I also have a friend that sends me lists of bands and which albums he finds inspiring and why. If I post a new song on youtube he posts a link to something different. Often this will be with a comment like 'this had the feel of...' as a compliment and signpost. Another form of interaction that I love. I guess it goes back to the point of this blog - that I want to write music (and poetry) as a way of interacting with people. As a live communication. I think that's why any of us send writings out into the world, whether bound in book or CD, or on a transient blog like this one.
Here's the Wordsworth poem that I respond to in my song... and the well thumbed poetry book.