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So What Did You Do During The Epidemic?


So, What Did You Do During The Epidemic?

Since I am no longer actively teaching songwriting in a classroom, I determined at one point to rerelease songwriting articles I had written for the Taxi newsletter while I worked there. A great deal of people seems to enjoy them and say that they get something practical from them; I hope they are inspiring.

But to me, many times, even though they ring true, they have felt somewhat out of date during these times. Something in the world has changed since I wrote them and I think I’ve lost touch (or interest) with something from before. I feel that I've become connected with something new.

For most of the past year or so, I’ve had little contact with the world at large, so I went inside - and I think a lot of other artists did too.

I’m wondering how that is affecting creativity?

I was very fortunate in that during the shutdown phase, I’ve had constant access to recording studios. I’m an introvert naturally and artistically so in a strange way isolation is my natural environment. I think it is for most artists. I have a feeling that the near future is poised for an explosion of creative work as a result of the intensity from the past year or so. I am not sure that the world is not quite ready for this.

Like many artists, I’ve had time to reflect on the past, present, and future during a time of rapid evolution which felt as though time stood still. Historically it takes time for the world to catch up with the creatives when a crisis passes - most of the consumer world seems to want to relive the past and stay with the familiar and the comforting when things get scary and uncertain. But as things get back to whatever the new normal is going to be, the desire for something new and relevant will grow. Something that interprets the new, unfamiliar landscape; what will that be?

Will one of us, the working creatives who worked harder and did more the past year than ever before, have planted the seeds of a new world creative order?

Like the world after blues hit in the early 1900’s, or jazz hit in the 1920’s, or bebop hit in the late 1940’s, or Elvis hit in the 1950’s, or the Beatles hit in the 1960’s, nothing is going to be quite the same ever again. There will be endless repetition of the same familiar commercial formulas we all know - but it will not be the same - something has changed.

In my classes at MI, I gave an illustration of creativity by using the example of a prism. When you shine a white light through a prism a beautiful pattern of color emerges on the other side. Every prism is different, just like every artist is different. But that white light is always the same. I called that the source of life - and life is endlessly creative, and all colors and patterns are contained in it. That source is Life, the same power that gives life to all nature, without which there is no life - the source that the best scientists can’t explain intellectually.

Some people call it nature, life force, (or The Force), higher power, a god, or God. That source is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. But we, the prisms have changed. We have been cracked, broken, covered in dirt, hidden in the dark - but in some cases polished, healed, and shined up and made deeper and richer in the process.

That pattern coming out the other side is going to be like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

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