Songs, prose, poetry and art all emerge from the individual. They emerge from the culmination of the genetics, the environment & the experiences of that individual. Born with a ‘blueprint’, we are sculpted by the experiences that we encounter throughout life, bringing us to the present time, the now. From that fusion of the original blueprint and how it evolves, at any given moment, our landscape emerges. This is unique to us and created by our brain, in essence an illusion: what we see, feel and know (or think that we know).
The concept of a matrix can help to understand the active role that the brain has in scrutinising sensory information and that about all our body systems, comparing this to what it already knows and then crafting an experience, some of which is conscious. Most we are unaware of. Into the matrix flows the data, integrated and emergent as something meaningful and relevant in most cases, but not always.
Just as the lyrics from a song flows from this blend of genetics and how we are sculpted by life’s situations, so does the way in which we move and the way we feel pain. Pain is emergent from the physical body, we feel it in the tissues. Science tells us that pain is allocated a virtual space in an area that the brain deems worthy of protection. This is an amazing device that draws our attention rapidly to the area that needs guarding as part of a protective response that include altered movement patterns, changes in blood flow and autonomic activity. These are other mechanisms are the way in which the brain deals with a perceived threat and the end result, the pain in the body is the way we consciously know that something maybe wrong. I say maybe, simply because in cases of persisting pain beyond the healing time, the pain is often indicative of a sensitised neuroimmune sysmetm rather than tissue damage. The misconception that the amount of pain equates to the amount of tissue damage is the cause of much mismanagement.
Interestingly, recent research has demonstrated that social pain has similar mechanisms as physical pain, if we can differentiate at all. Indeed, the pain felt at times of great emotion, ‘the bleeding heart’, as opposed to that of an injury, has equable validity in terms of suffering. It is these experiences that the great writers illustrate so well, creating images in the reader’s or listener’s mind that trigger real emotional responses to be lived.
The lyrics of Jeff Angell are an example of a story emerging from an individual. They are an expression of all that is known and things that are known but not known that they are known. You cannot help but be drawn into the narrative that evokes an array of images and emotions, driven home by the beat and riff mastery. In a sense the words are the drug with the music being a device of infusion. With music having such an effect upon the brain in many locations, it could be seen to be a drug. How often do we have an effect of listening to a tune? This is a physiological response that is affected by our current mood but also reframes our mood. Similar experiences can be had on reading prose that give you just enough to create a living story in one’s head and body. Jack Kerouac springs to mind.
Here is Jeff Angell from Walking Papers talking about his inspiration:
Question: What’s your primary inspiration when sitting down to write a song?
Angell: Life, in general. I always have my antenna up when walking around, because people I meet or conversations I overhear can find their way into a song at some point. I try to have a feel for situations and how everyday people talk. Sometimes, three people I’ve known throughout my life can be reformed into one person for the purposes of creating a song. I’ve found that three verses in song can often be more powerful than a 300-page novel, because the listener’s imagination can take them places they never thought of before. I had a troubled childhood, so I used music and writing as a way to escape the chaos and take myself to another place. In a way, songs are almost like the Clint Eastwood westerns in which his character doesn’t have a name or an origin story, because the characters in the songs are just as wide open to interpretation.