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When I was growing up in the Midwest, in a
traditional church-going family and society, I got quite a dose
of Religion (Capital R for "Organized Religion"), or at
least quite a few interpretations of it. There were lots of rules.
Lots and LOTS of rules, come to think of it. Mostly they were
rules of what NOT to do, though there were some pretty good
parables about what TO do, also. And occasionally, I experienced
what was behind that Religion... a Communion with God. (You can
insert any P.C. tags you have for that word if it makes you more
comfortable, but for the sake of speed, let's call it God, ok?)
Now we come to the chicken-or-the-egg part. Because I started Sunday School as a small child, did that Religion bring me to the Communion? Or would it have evolved just as naturally without it? Certainly some of my most memorable religious experiences have been outside a church. Yet my earliest memories of that "Spirit" were sharing those energies with others of the same mind. Would I have had as much of a grip on the basic agreements of, say, the Ten Commandments without the examples set in church? By that, I mean a moral understanding that touches me inside, as much as accepting them as Social Laws on the books. On the other hand, would I have stayed more loyal to Organized Religion if there had been a bit more God and a few less rules?
Seems to me that Writing Songs has become like Organized Religion. A sort of necessity that sometimes gets overdone. I am an advocate for knowing the rules, learning the craft, using your head. But it's so easy to forget the Communion when you do that. When you and I first found Music, it touched each one of us in such emotional ways, that it courted us into a sort of marriage with it. We felt such a deep understanding of it, that we actually believed that we could ADD something to its awesome essence. We decided to write a song. We were full of love and inspiration and message. We had Communion with the Spirit of Music. (Which in my opinion is one facet of God, but that's another Philosophy Discussion).
Most of us gathered with others, sharing the Communion of Music (I could go into pictures of record player alters, etc., but you get the analogy). We "preached" it when we sang it. We just wanted to share it, not sell it. It wasn't until a bit later that we started to critique our own work. Then we actually wanted to improve at it, study it, breathe it. Then, at some point, we wanted Converts to our music, no longer satisfied with those who chose to willingly participate, we decided to convince the Industry, and the Audience that they needed what we wrote.
Of course, that's when we started to pummel our songs into submission to the rules, demanding adherence to the Ten Form Commandments, etc., and at the same time take brutal critiques and rejections from total strangers of whom we tended to feel varying shades of intimidation. And that's when we started feeling anger and resentment where once there was pure unconditional love.
It can be easy to forget that God (the Communion) is the reason for Organized Religion, and the Song (the Communion) is the reason for Songwriting. Do you see? Let's don't let the rules and "converting others to our cause" overshadow the Spirit.
(As usual, of course, that's just my opinion).
Feel free to send me your opinion.
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(C) 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Janet Fisher, Goodnight Kiss Music (BMI) Scene Stealer Music (ASCAP)