1st December 2011
I am sitting in the kitchen sink. Well, my feet are in the sink while the rest of me is perched on the draining-board. Like Cassandra, in a favourite novel* of my teens, I am hoping that my unusual choice of seating will inspire me, or at the very least put things in perspective. It is refreshing to view my kitchen from up here, the raised eye-level allowing me to see these familiar, everyday items from a new, oblique angle. I wonder if this will alter my mental perception as well as my visual…
I had hoped that a fresh viewpoint would detach me from the scene, allowing the worktop clutter and the responsibility for clearing it to seem to belong to someone else. But no, the pile of crusted dishes and cutlery from a late lunch and a sudden urge to bake bread carry, as always, their insistent message, ‘Wash me’, along with silent threats of mould and shame if ignored for too long. Yes, it is still my clutter – I have created it and it belongs to me. While I can feel a subtle glow of pride as I see the warm dough rising in the bowl, it is overshadowed by a stab of guilt over the mound of paperwork that nags at me from the office and the unfinished songs whining for attention. I smother these thoughts by turning the page of my notepad and scribbling a sketch of the kitchen from my lofty perch. I am a great procrastinator.
So it is with music. Perhaps it is the consequence of a having inherited the family butterfly brain that flits from here to there and back again, but there always seem to be two or three songs on the go at once, never one at a time… as it always is with buses and men. See? I’ve already flitted.
A song’s beginning has all the promise of a new romance. It either fizzles out after the first few bars, or leads to a second date and the novelty and excitement of watching a story unfold. Maybe I’m fickle or shallow, or both, but once I’ve worked out where a song (or man, but not for some reason a bus) is going I’m ready to move on. Having two or three evolving projects on the go at one time seems to hold my interest for longer.
Some songs are strong-willed and give me grief, often insisting on a lyric or chord I really hate. I’ve been known to lock these away for years, giving them time to consider and repent, taking them out now and again to find that they haven’t. The weaker-willed songs, which let me push them around too easily, soon lose my respect and usually end up in the bin. I like a challenge but I also like to have my own way.
Sometimes, when a song gets stuck through no fault of its own, it helps to put it aside for a while or try to look at it from another angle.
So here I sit… and think… in the sink.
*I Capture the Castle. Dodie Smith.