The Muse Is a Bossy Broad

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The muse whispers to you when she chooses, and you can’t tell her to come back later, because you quickly learn that she might not come back at all.

~ Terry Brooks

Art by Victor Nizovstev

 

 

So, I’m in the midst of birthing the album DidnWannaDoIt!”  Having never committed to coming up with song after song before, the journey was full of surprises.

One night, in the middle of a deep sleep, I’d heard a few phrases of the song “At the End of My Day, singing themselves to me, over and over again, like a lullabye on a broken record that wouldn’t stop until I got up, turned on the light, wrote down the words.  And in the morning, I had no idea what to make of that bit of song yet, but it didn’t go away for the rest of the day and I was hooked on it.

A few days later, I go to the supermarket.  I’m buying vegetables.  Something green.  Baby broccoli, probably – which I don’t really even like, and nearly always overcook.

So, I’ve got the plastic bag in my hand and I’m aimlessly humming to myself.  And – suddenly — a really big chunk of the song starts pouring itself through me right then and there in the organic vegetables section.

And I panic because I don’t have a pen (nope, no iPhone, at the time)!  So there I am, frozen to the spot, in suspended animation, mid-reach, softly trying to sing the thing to myself so I won’t forget it.  Though there’s nobody in the near vicinity, I attempt to look casual (or at least not too demented) as I stand singing to myself with a furrowed brow, like maybe somebody let Miss Havisham go grocery shopping.

But the music and lyrics flow so freely and so fast and feel so right and so delicious that I’m terrified I’ll forget it all, so I make an executive decision to get the hell out of there and get home ASAP, so I can sing it into my little recorder. So, I abandon the vegetables and make a beeline to the checkout.

And the split second I do, the song’s gone.  Just… evaporated.  And I’m standing next to the “People” magazines, while somebody’s checking out in front of me, and dammit, I can’t remember a single second of the song.  Not a word, not a note.

So, of course, I have no choice but to go directly back to the baby broccoli and – sure enough, there it is!  Like a clear stream into my mind.  And as I stand there, pretending to be very discriminating about my greens, I’m softly singing what I’m hearing of the song, repeating it a few times over to imprint it firmly into my memory.

Well, I nabbed those pieces of song , got myself home and got ‘em into the recorder.  Later, in the studio, Jay (the producer) and I fiddled with this and that, and after a few rewrites, that song got born rather smoothly.

When I told Jay about how the song came to me while I was in the middle of broccoli shopping, he grinned and said, “There must be a Music Vortex over the produce section.”  And we laughed, but I swear he was right!  There were, in fact, several other times while writing that album that I’d suddenly “hear” other key parts of other songs while absent-mindedly motoring around that same section of the supermarket.

Obviously, not only does the Muse knock on my door whenever it damn well pleases, it also reminds me to eat my vegetables.