On Songs, Stories, Psychology

An interesting thought just occurred to me: songs are short stories. Very short stories, occasionally incoherent stories, and often stories that are not narrative or chronological, but stories. They describe scenes, events, and emotions in ways that rely on empathy for the listener to derive the tale. The listener gets impressions of feeling from the music (which is a setting, of sorts), and bits and snippets of the story that is unfolding from the verse. The story may be out of order and metaphorical, but it’s there in an inchoate form. 

I say this because I was thinking about one of my songs, the one uncreatively titled “Maybe”. It’s an angry break-up song, one with a scene, a narrative, and quite a lot of emotion in it – and it is totally fictional. None of the events in the song are from my life. Some general feelings, yes, but not derived from an event of the same category or caliber. It is made up. It is a story.

Therefore, I was hesitating to post it, because for some reason I (we?) have this notion that songs must be, in some form, autobiographical. Some ballads obviously aren’t, but those with vague lyrics or those not explicitly stated to be otherwise are assumed to be taken from the artist’s life, or influenced heavily by it, and therefore the artist’s mind can be extrapolated from the work.  

And this is not completely true. Many things can be inspired by empathy and poetic liberty, and it is uncomfortable when someone picks a strange or dark line from one of my works and attempts to tie it to some portion of my psyche. It is not that none of my writing comes from my own experiences and feelings (that would be impossible), but that not all of it does, and which is mine and which is not is purely for me to know. 

What I mean is, my work should be a body of its own. It is its own thing once I release it, its own entity to be analyzed. Of course it can be viewed through the context of the time and my stated philosophy, but I also say things I don’t mean and write things that aren’t real for the sake of pure storytelling effect. Feel free to analyze things, but I do not think it should be a study in my psychology, nor assumed to be autobiography.

At any rate, I should have a new song up soon. Everyone say “hooray!”