I find the creative process fascinating. Many people feel the same, if interview questions are anything to go by. Just as every Olympian who wins a medal gets asked “How does it feel to have won a medal”, so every artist/writer/musician gets asked at one point in time “Where do you get your ideas from?”
There’s no chance of hearing such a trite question from Simon or Brian of Sodajerker. These two songwriters have been conducting a series of interviews with many of the greatest songwriters and lyricists of the last 100 years. I cannot recommend listening to these podcasts enough.
But this blog is not about songwriters. The Sodajerker podcasts reveal about how to write a decent song as they do about life and success and business and work and love and relationships and collaborative working and ………….
Here are a few of the things I’ve learned from listening to the Sodajerker podcasts:
From Don Black (lyricist for Bond films and Born Free) I learned that longevity in success is as much down to temperament as it is talent. By which I think he meant how we react to setbacks and failure.
From Johnny Marr (guitarist of The Smiths, like you didn’t know) I learned that being one of the greatest musicians and pop stars the UK has ever produced doesn’t mean you can’t be interested in other people and asking after the well being of their family.
From Richard M Sherman (along with his brother writer for Disney, including the songs for Mary Poppins) I learned the importance of restriction, that a clear brief with boundaries actually aids the creative process and helps get focussed results.
From Andy Partridge (of XTC) I learned the importance of keeping all ideas and going back through the archive once in a while for inspiration.
From Jimmy Webb (writer of, amongst many many hits, Witchita Lineman) I learned that rarely do great ideas and moments of inspiration are usually the result of a lot of hard work.
From Mark King (of Level 42) I learned the importance of irritants (such as deadlines or competition) to help get the best results from yourself.
From Mike Stoller (half of Leiber and Stoller who wrote countless hits for Elvis Presley and man man others) I learned that you are never too old or experienced to stop learning.
And I also learned from Mark King one of the greatest (if rather rude) insults of all time: “If ugly were dynamite, you’d have gone off in your father’s nuts”.
Oh, and the answer to the question “Where do you get your ideas from”? No-one knows. They just arrive. But usually only after a lot of effort.
Chris Budd’s novel is available via his web site. He’s half way through writing novel two now that he’s given himself a deadline, a clear brief, looked through his archive of ideas, and put in some hard work.