I saw two shows this weekend.
Yesterday ecvening I went to see the Wicked Messengers play at Hill Country, which is a barbecue restaurant in Manhattan. Alan Lee Backer, who is the leader of the Wicked Messengers (I hope I'm not getting in trouble for saying that. I don't know their internal band politics, and for all I know they never declared him the leader, but he appears to be the leader) is a favorite of mine. He was the author of The Twanglers' "Two Hearts (Tender, Lovin' and True)," which was a single on Diesel Only Records in the 1980s. And their drummer, Charlie Shaw (formerly of The Five Chinese Brothers) is my daughter's guitar teacher. That wasn't a show I had planned on going to. Or even known about long in advance. In the afternoon I texted Charlie about scheduling my daughter's next guitar lesson. Then, in the evening he texted something along the lines of "I should have told you earlier, but we're playing at Hill Country from 9:30 to midnight tonight. My wife, knowing I really wanted to go, encouraged me to. So we finished our errands, and I took the subway in. I was late -- I got there at ten But they played until 1 AM. So I got in a three hour show (as well as some barbecue and nearly half a dozen Mexican Cokes). I keep wanting to think of the Messengers as a Country band, and certainly there's a lot of country in their repertoire, but they're also a damn good rock and roll bar band.
What I find interesting is that I often have songwriting inspirations while watching shows. And at both of these shows I had some. A couple ideas for song titles -- which may or may not turn into songs. And some good thoughts about how to work through some blocks I've hit on songs I'm in the process of writing. There's one in particular. Without going into detail, I've been trying for several years to write a psychobilly song called "Bleed Me a River." There have been some places I've gotten stuck, but I think I may have gotten unstuck. In the morning I'll try to think it through.
And, yes, I did say that I've been working on it for years. That's the way it always is for my songwriting. From first inspiration to finished song is always a matter of years. Partly because I lack training and partly because I don't really have a lot of time to devote to it. Between my day job (which does require more than 40 hours in a typical week) and having a family with three kids, I just can't be a full-time songwriter. So I get ideas. And I may jot down a title or a line. And I ruminate. I may be on the subway doing number puzzles. Or I may be driving. Or shopping. Or sitting at the dentist's office. But I'm thinking about a song. And sometimes I'll have an epiphany that leads to progress. And sometimes something will emerge finished.