Songwriting is a curious and mystical occupation. Sometimes songs need to be written by assignment. Sometimes songs come about by the suggestions of a committee. Sometimes an inspiration simply demands expression and you as a songwriter are helpless against its power of persuasion. Songs can be humorous, serious, satirical, lyrical, spontaneous, or studied. They can be a reflection of our moods or help to channel our moods to a different place. Where would we be without songs?
When my older children were quite young the television set we had could only pick up a few stations. We got the three major networks and the local PBS station. At least the children could watch "Sesame Street" and "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." I appreciated all of the catchy songs the characters on "Sesame Street" sang to help the children learn the letters and numbers and a host of other interesting things. But, I really enjoyed the laid-back way Mister Rogers had of explaining things. One day he was talking about songs and how anybody can write a song. It doesn't have to aspire to greatness, it just has to be your special song. He explained that songs can be about anything you want them to be about. But they are best if they express your feelings in an interesting way.
That is really true. The best songs are more about feelings than the actual words. Sometimes the words standing alone don't mean much, but combined with the melody, rhythm and harmony, they command an honored place in our hearts. Even better are the songs where the marriage of the text to the music transcends time and place. Those songs become classics because they have so many levels of meaning. Those are the songs that live forever. Songs like "Shenandoah" or "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" are revered because they express the feelings of ultimate longing which is a universal attitude we all experience in our human condition.
I am so happy when I see the younger generation exploring their own musical expression. I am glad when I hear of school music teachers helping students grow in their abilities to create music. One day, our neighbor overheard his son commenting about the beautiful sunrise. He went on and on about how the clouds were pink and golden with the first rays of sunshine. Then suddenly he said, "I think I need to go write a song about it." And he did. He went to the piano and plunked out a little melody and came up with some words. He even wrote it down according to his best 3rd grade
It made me happy to think that others too can "feel a song coming on" and be nudged to do something about it!