During the Q&A after a recent Stripped Down concert, somebody asked Rick Springfield what inspired his song “Celebrate Youth.” The answer was not what you would expect.
He said that he was sitting in a steam room in Palm Springs “with a bunch of old, fat naked men” when he started thinking about that song, wondering what those guys thought of him because he was much younger than them. That is very different than the image I previously had in my mind when hearing that song…
But I thought that was so interesting because it is a reminder that inspiration can come from anywhere – and can develop into something else entirely. In the past – before marriage and kids – the majority of my songs were about dating angst. There were some exceptions, such as when my mom died and Sept. 11, but many were the results of emotions stirred up from dating encounters. After I met my husband, that angst disappeared and I rarely wrote songs anymore – until last year.
The first one I wrote in about 10 years was after reading RS’s memoir, “Late Late at Night” almost exactly a year ago. It is called “Rick Springfield Crush Revival,” and is about my renewed teenage crush on my favorite rock star.
Then in the past year, inspiration has come in from all different directions. Here are the songs, with the first few lines (click on the title to hear the song (very rough versions) or see the lyrics-I’m still working on music for some of them).
“Holes in the Wall”: After noticing a hole in a wall.
There are holes in the wall hidden underneath the pictures
I can’t answer when you call, there’s a shortage in the fixture
The lawn is overgrown and the floor’s in need of sweeping
But I can’t get out of bed, I only feel like sleeping.
“One in a Million”: The difference between how fans view rock stars vs. how rock stars view their fans.
They feel like they know you from all that you’ve shared
Devoted for decades, they’ve shown that they care
To them you’re one in a million, the brightest star in the sky
A light in the darkness, a muse in their life
“A Thoughtless Whisper”: After reading an article about how social media destroyed people’s lives.
A thoughtless whisper becomes a worldwide trend
We’ve gone too far, we can’t go back again
Everyone’s a witness with a camera in hand
Gathering evidence against their fellow man
“Distracted Driving”: One day while driving on the freeway, I missed my exit, then almost did it again the next day, which led to this song.
I passed my exit, I drove too far
Caught daydreaming inside my car
Where are we going? Are we lost?
Distracted driving, paying the cost
“Under the Same Sky”: About the earthquake in Nepal
As the earth crumbled across the ocean
We continued our lives with depleted emotion
Underneath the rubble, thousands of lives lost
Numbed by the numbers, can’t comprehend the cost
“I Feel Rich”: Inspired by payday
I feel rich ‘cause I just got paid
My gas tank’s full and the bed is made
It won’t last long ‘cause the bills are due
But for one whole day I feel like you
“A Cup of Coffee”: Inspired by my husband bringing me coffee each morning
A cup of coffee on the counter waiting for me
One of the signs that you care for me
Waking in the morning with a smile on your face
Immersed in all your love, I know I’m in the right place
“Shine Your Light”: This actually started from a dark place, trying to figure out what goes on in the mind of someone who commits a horrific act (like a terrorist), but then it ended up turning around into people being inspired to do positive things in the world.
You may be quiet on the outside, but internally
There’s a fire burning and it’s yearning to break free
You think that nobody’s watching, you feel like nobody cares
Your dreams turned gray along the way, they were swallowed by your fears
“Glass Shatters”: I was emptying the dishwasher and noticed our chipped plates and how we have so many different kinds of glasses – and how things have changed since when we first got married and all our dishes and glasses were new – and they matched.
Mismatched glasses, place settings on the table
We talk about replacing them someday when we are able
Years ago they were all so shiny and new
In our earlier days, when they made their debut
And the latest song came after I noticed that someone gave my “Rick Springfield Crush Revival” video a thumbs down. Couldn’t they just see the video for what it was – a cheesy, amateur tribute to my favorite rock star? Did they really have to go out of their way to publicly (though anonymously) declare their dislike for it? Couldn’t they have just rolled their eyes and clicked on a different video?
Then I realized that that’s just the way our society is these days, and then came “Thumbs-down Mentality”:
Everyone’s a critic, a thumbs-down mentality
Can’t keep it to themselves, they need the whole world to see
You’re king of your keyboard, you’re ruler of your room
A tyrant typing madly, spreading anonymous doom.
Every time I finish a song, I am convinced that it might be my last one because the inspiration seems to come from somewhere I can’t explain and I don’t really have any control over it. Maybe it’s just a matter of being receptive to the idea, I don’t know, and I spend time developing the song once the inspiration hits, of course. But that’s what I have for now. Thanks, RS, for inspiring me to write songs again!