I have special songs in my collection. I’m sure you do, too.
Jerry Cantrell’s “Psychotic Break” is one. With the backdrop of tragic dirge, Jerry intones “Adrift, I curse this gift and hope you never know,” and it gets to me.
Or when Christa Wells quietly pleads “Make something out of me/ Even if it means you tear me down to renovate” (“Renovate”) it gets to me.
When Eva Holbrook’s fragile voice admits “I’ve been searching all my life/ Is anybody there?” (SHEL “Is the Doctor in Today”) it gets to me.
When Doug Pinnick yearns “If I could move to the middle/ If I could go outside/ If I could give in a little/ And make it work this time” (King’s X, “If”) I so relate to that longing, that it gets to me.
It doesn’t happen often, and enough things have to go just right. But I cherish these cathartic moments in songs. Right words delivered atop emotively performed music, and it gets to me. The effect may be that I tear up but it is somehow a comforting, fulfilling, liberating experience.
Just about very song I write, my dream for it is to be a song that “gets to” someone. My hope is that the words and music are just right enough to reach out to someone’s tender inner heart.
So I build in a cathartic moment or two in each of my songs. And I work on them until they do get to me. Yes, I get emotional listening to my own songs. I don’t know if they will work for anyone else, but I get such joy out of making songs that get to me.
On “If I Miss the Deadline” my cathartic moment is when it goes “If I missed the deadline, can I/ Can I still remain?” and it gets quiet.
And on my newest song, “Can You Love a Landmine” there are a couple of moments. After a long series of describing the chaos in the “you” person, the “I” comes out and say “Seasick vertigo of soul/ Made you forget your whole/ But you’re not gone.” That, and the very last line.
Of course, there are many things I’m proud of in all my recordings, and I’ll be overjoyed if someone noticed the weird guitar chords or awesome bass lines.
But when I write a song, I’m dreaming of it “getting to” someone. And I keep on dreaming.