Left to Interpretation

posted in: Blog | 0


I think and experience life through word pictures that combine with emotive imagination. When asked to describe my song lyrics, it’s often difficult because songwriting is a very sensory undertaking for me. Some songs contain direct meaning in every line, while others maintain an overall theme and the lyrics create an atmosphere around that theme.

The line, “your wardrobe eyes are holding magic” in Lemon-Yellow Rendezvous describes the depth of a lovers’ eyes and all of the secrets contained within. However, it’s not always possible for me to give an explanation in words for every line if the song is better understood as a whole — a medley of pictures that only make sense when put together.

There are surely writers who have made an exact science out of music composition. But in describing my own way of going about it, every song is born out of a different set of experiences and evolves freely. There truly is a Muse that seems to pay me a visit on occasion and this “wind of inspiration” carries me into a fit of music making. And so many songs, in my opinion, are better left to interpretation.

Every act of expression is limited. For example, you can’t sufficiently describe your first kiss within the confines of words. The way your body reacts, the smell of the forest, the sincerity in her eyes, the comfort of her hair draped across your shoulders, the feeling of melting into one another — it’s too supernatural to recreate in words. I feel that moving songs are the same; it’s sometimes better to simply let them be.

I’ve always had an extremely strong imagination. As a kid I remember seeing reindeer in the drops of rain on the car windows and a giant anteater in the spaces between the dirty laundry in the hamper. When driving I sometimes imagine the stoplights melting onto the road and my car tires getting stuck in the red, green and orange goo as I pass. In the same way, each of my songs is a basket of thoughts and imaginations put to melody in a way that I hope makes sense. My aim is to carry the listener into an imaginative experience … a descriptive fairytale.

If I reveal my own personal connection with the song, it destroys your personal connection with it.

But it’s not always the case that my songwriting is born out of an intangible notion. If My Paper Boat Could Sail was written and rewritten for a specific purpose. I can describe what every line means and every guitar part was meticulously thought out over the course of weeks. The same is true of Indigo Road and Juggernaut of Super-Shooting Beam.

However, intrigued by the sounds of words and the images they bring to mind, the quirky tune Shoes is a collection of images and sounds that worked well together. The song is a recording of the narrator’s peculiar quest through an enchanted forest. His shoes are his primary reference point throughout the journey — a tangible item in which he finds his bearings in unknown territory.

I was an English major in college and I remember dissecting the poem Kubla Khan by Coleridge. As students picked apart each line and prided themselves on their deep philosophical ideas of what they thought Coleridge was trying to portray, I wondered why we couldn’t just be amused by his ethereal wordplay.