I was watching the recent Beatles documentary, “Get Back” which gives an in depth look at the two weeks or so the Fab Four spent reuniting, writing, and rehearsing what would be their final live performance not to mention the Let it Be album.
It’s a LONG documentary. Eight hours or so. There are some magic moments. Some boring. Some insightful. Depending on where you stand as a Beatles fan, I’m sure this documentary could mean many different things to you. Similarly, and what I like most, is viewing this through the lens of a songwriter.
Per usual, I’ve got a disclosure. I’m coming at this from the standpoint of a solo singer songwriter and not a bandmember, which can complicate things but also, I assume, add depth and multiply creativity. To be clear, I'd love to be in a band some day, even just for a year or so :)
When I watch these four musicians come together, I see a lot of playful musical behavior and pulling threads to see where songs go next. Most notably, I hear a lot of utterly nonsensical lyrics.
It felt like half the time John and Paul had one main approach to songwriting. Strum a bit to find a melody you like, then mumble until a word fits, and finally sing it over and over with nonsense sounds. Worry about the words later. That’s it. That’s how a hit is born over and over again.
Watching these musicians who made an immeasurable impact just shout gibberish in songs that millions have come to know and love was oddly freeing for me. It was a great reminder that ,when you are creating a song, its okay to let yourself go a bit. Gibberish doesn’t need to rhyme. You can flex the melody and bend it in ways that might surprise you. Starting a song with gobbledygook is fair game. The words will come when they need to.
Last month, I spent a lot of time working on a new story idea. My first novel, The Man in the Pines, was published a year and a half ago, and I have another that will be coming out in late 2023 or early 2024 with Unsolicited Press, but I've been ruminating on a new idea.
I was working on this idea for the Nanowrimo challenge, a goal of writing 50,000 words (technically a novel) in one month. To reach that goal, you need to have a lot of time, or be willing to just get words on the page, 1,667 per day to be precise. Often times, that means being okay with things that just are not perfect. They are place holders for later ideas and development. It is essentially gibberish. The same tactic John and Paul were were using in the documentary. I didn't come close to 50,000 words last month, but I came away feeling great about the start I had in the new project and okay with the fact that I would have to edit later.
I simply wanted to share that I think this concept can be a freeing tool when everything you are trying to say feels forced. Cut yourself some slack. Focus on the sounds and not the words. Those will come later. Who knows, maybe you’ll tap into you subconscious and a word will unintentionally slip out leading you to the lyrics you really wanted to write. Maybe a hit song will be born.
So, go forth, write some nonsense, and have fun!