Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Writing to Remember, Writing to Honor

(You can listen to the song I wrote as a tribute to everyone affected by the tragic events of 9/11, "3,000 Angels," HERE.)

I think a lot of artists, when a major life experience comes along, feel the natural desire from within to somehow capture that experience in their work.  As someone who was in Manhattan on 9/11, and as a songwriter, I know I definitely wanted to put my thoughts and feelings about that day, and the weeks and months that came after, into a song.

But for a very long time, I felt unable to do it.  I'm not entirely sure why.  There's an element to my songwriting that is unquestionably a mystery, which I try never to question.  Maybe it was too big.  Maybe I needed a lot of time to process and heal.  I don't know.  There were times when I thought maybe a song about 9/11 would never come from me, which usually made me feel a bit sad.

Then, somehow, ten years later, also for a reason I can't seem to fully explain, the words and the music were suddenly just there.  I strummed my guitar and the notes and chords revealed themselves.  I picked up my pen and words of expression poured out of me.  Like many of the songs I am most proud of, it took very little time from start to finish.

I first recorded it with the band I was still in at the time, Atomic Shotgun.  I played the guitar intro and the acoustic rhythm guitar part, Scott Holcomb played a heartbreaking, beautiful lead electric guitar part that lightly danced over the acoustic chords.  And Corynne Wilder sang the words with grace and emotion.

When Atomic Shotgun decided to go on indefinite hiatus, and I began to plan out the additional songs for the re-release of my first solo record Just Keep Goin', I really wanted to put the song on the album.  Corynne and Scott generously gave me their blessing to do so, and I recorded a new version, keeping all the guitar parts from the first version, and adding my own vocals to it.

As we all know, with even the most traumatic events, healing often occurs naturally over time.  But I don't know if anyone ever achieves perfect closure about something so devastating and pointless.  All I do know is I'm glad the song finally came to me, and if it took 10 years to do so, that's prefectly all right with me.

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