Last night I put up the tent on the lawn so that Eleanor and Rosamund could sleep in it, but then Eleanor got a cough and started looking ill and the tent slept alone. Now the wind is back and the tethering lines are working loose, and I have doubts about tonight too.
Every now and then I try to write a song again, but it never works out. Writing songs used to be what I did. Probably I have written about 100. Of those I have forgotten about 70, could remember – eventually – another 20, and have about ten left in my head I can recall without too much effort. My last creative period with a guitar was about seven years ago and came during a period of depression. At that time I started referring to my guitar as my therapist: jokingly to others, but matter-0f-factly to myself.
I got my first guitar when I was 15 and I straight away wrote my own songs. I never was really interested in learning other people’s songs. On reflection this limited my musical development quite a lot. Learning other people’s songs exposes you to new chords, new ideas, new rhythms. I missed all that and as a consequence my songs work inside a very small range of musical ideas. Still, that small range took me from 15 to 28 years old, and then from about 32 to 36.
Songs used to seem to want to come out of me. When I was in my 20s if I sat down with my guitar after a day away from it there was this feeling coming out of my hands like a built up current of energy: the guitar released that and earthed me. It means that when I pick up the guitar now and there is nothing there it can be desolating. I wrote a song for the first time in two years two days ago, but the feeling is not the same. I hear more the limits and the flaws. The limits are in the voice and the musicianship and the recording.
And yet, it is a song* and there hasn’t been one for a long, long time.
I’ve been listening carefully to A Moon Shaped Pool all day. That and the wind. They go together well: roving around, turning things over, tugging things until they come loose. I didn’t know until I sat with the album that Thom had separated from his partner of two decades. There are monsters, huge alien space craft, a dream landscape of endless opening doors and an ice cave with a fire inside.
Part of me wants to sneak into that tent this evening, and listen to the world constricting in the cool of the night. A bigger part doesn’t. The romanticism of tents has usually dissipated in me by about 2am when I feel cold, cramped and cross. I’ll toss the coin in my head this evening, and see where I sleep then.
*The song was posted here before, but on fifth listen it is more embarrassing than enjoyable.