Songs I Wish I’d Written

Maybe I feel too free to post non-technical content on the weekends. 🙂

As a not-particularly-talented musician (I play a little mandolin and even less guitar), I’m no stranger to feelings of inspiration and sublime awe at particularly gifted musicians as they do their thing on stage or on MP3. I can sit and listen to Jimmi or to SRV or to Chris Thile of Nickel Creek for hours and hours and never get tired of listening to them for their virtuosity and innovation on their instruments.

But the thing that fewer people cop to is a feeling of awe at the “right song”. I’m not really talking about classical music here – I love classical music, but it is so complex and subtle that the feelings it inspires in me are, in a sense, beyond those that I experience when I hear a good song (i.e. a few minutes long and written in the last century). It’s a unique feeling when I stumble on exactly the right song – they’re not the songs that I would expect to connect with usually – but I feel like I can relate to it so much that I wish I had written it. I don’t know how else to explain it – these songs just click with my personality in a weirdly synergistic way.

The songs that do this are all over the board – Cherub Rock by Smashing Pumpkins is one of them, as is A Day In The Life by the Beatles, Nothing But Flowers by The Talking Heads, and (oddly?) Happier by Guster. A couple of songs in Rent fall into this category, like One Thousand Kisses and Living In America. But the far-and-away winner in the category of Most Songs I Wish I’d Written is Bob Dylan. The one that popped up on my mp3 player tonight was Tangled Up And Blue – one of the greatest.

I wonder how often this phenomenon – “I wish I had written that,” or its cousin for the more talented among us, “I should have written that” – happens. For people who can/do write music, I would think it would be the beginning of creative inspiration; for the rest of us (or me, at least), it is just a feeling of frustrated amazement.

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