My mentor and the first producer I ever worked with, Brian Beattie, used to say, “Just because it’s good doesn’t mean it’s good.” This hilarious maxim is both deeply true and powerfully deflating; as listeners we’re confronted with so much tasteful and thoughtfully-crafted music that doesn’t touch our hearts or souls at all. But when something novel and real and exciting comes along, we feel it deep down in our bodies before our brains can even articulate what we’re experiencing. Sometimes, work like this seems to transcend even conventional notions of “bad” and “good” and starts to take on a mysterious life of its own.
I’ve found that the more I write lyrics and music the more relentlessly I search for that magical, uncanny place where the song doesn’t have to feel perfect but instead just feels right. Craft alone won’t take you there, nor will taste or training. Instead, I find myself fumbling around in the light, using my brain and my gut and my heart and my taste and trying to wind up with something real to present to people. In this workshop I’ll give some examples of the magical “good enough” principle in music and especially in lyrics, and some of the tricks I’ve learned over time to attempt to get there. Afterwards, I’ll open it up to a Q&A format where we can talk about the weird alchemical art of songwriting and how to make something hair-raising instead of something polite.