I have been in a songwriting slump, so I wrote a song about it. This month I share “Edge of the Light.” Welcome to my kitchen!
THIS MONTH’S MUSIC: “Edge of the Light”
FEATURED NON-PROFIT: CDC Mental Health Resources
Florida man plays guitar – 2017 memory
I get back in the (virtual) saddle this Sunday, February 6th at 5 pm ET when I join my talented friend Amy Kucharik live online for her “Sunday Streams” series. We will swap songs and chat a bit in this informal songwriter’s session. I am really looking forward to this. You can view at Amy’s Youtube or Twitch channels..
This Month’s Music:
“Edge of the Light”
“Edge of the Light”
© 2022 Tom Smith (ASCAP)
It has been several months since I have shared a new original song. Most folks assume that with so many life challenges (COVID, climate change, racial injustice, increased tensions in Ukraine, dysfunction in Congress, the promise of another contentious election… and the list goes on), that I would have a lot of inspiration to write new songs. On the other hand, most of my artist friends tell me that they are also finding it difficult to be creative. Some of us are experiencing serious emotional stress, while others describe it as emotional exhaustion. We stay connected, moving our regular in-person songwriters’ support meetups online; and all of my professional musician friends are primarily performing to virtual audiences. Although we would never give virtual meetings up, most are tired of living our personal, professional and social lives in two dimensions.
Lately, we are beginning to see cracks in the COVID wall where light is trying to peek through. The COVID Omicron Variant appears to have peaked here in New England, and vaccination rates are inching up (though too slowly). Surprisingly, my reaction to this good news is skepticism and a bit of fear. Skepticism clearly comes from dashed hopes that the vaccines would neutralize the COVID item on the stressor list. I think the source of my fear is a little more nuanced.
To help me dig out of my creative slump, I signed up for a songwriting workshop with my friend Cosy Sheridan. Cosy is one of my favorite musical artists, whom I have come to know in friendship over the last ten years. She is also a terrific songwriting workshop leader. One of her assignments inspired me to write about feelings that have prevented me from making new music.
The central metaphor in the resulting song is “light”, and the title “Edge of the Light” is the pending arrival that I both hope for and fear. When the light exposes terrible things, it is difficult to retreat into ignorance. When the light shows the potential to make something beautiful, what if it comes out ugly?
This song is somewhat dark, so I feel I should tell you that I am emotionally okay. I tend to process things by writing; others may climb mountains, volunteer at a food pantry, or stay in bed most of the day – all valid responses. If you are experiencing serious emotional stress, please check out the CDC Mental Health Resources below.
Let’s visit a more uplifting image of “the clear morning light” by one of my favorite poets.
New Year’s Day
– by Ted Kooser
Each thing in the clear morning light
is a promise. I start the day
by building a feeding place for birds,
stacking up castaway crates in the snow.
How they come! Sparrows and blue jays
dropping like leaves from the elms,
which though burned with disease
still promise some sort of a spring,
their branches lined with hard buds
like birds perching, or the seeds of birds,
still more birds to come.
(If so inclined, I invite you to leave a comment by scrolling to the end of this page.)
For obvious reasons, we are experiencing an unprecedented amount of stress. If you or a loved one find it difficult to cope, I encourage you to ask for help. If you are in the United States, these free and confidential resources from the CDC are a good place to start. Outside the US, please find your local mental health organization.