Every once in a while I dream about a song that’s never been written. Sometimes I think it’s a really good song. But no matter how good it is, if I don’t write it down, I’ll forget it.
I never cease to be amazed when a vivid idea playing in my head vanishes twenty minutes after I wake up. Sometimes I’ll remember it again, but most of the time it’s just gone like it was never there. Luckily, my notation skills are such that I can usually get it on paper before I lose it, and then it’s mine.
But on Saturday mornings I take a day off for Shabbat. I refuse to write anything down. And that’s what happened with my latest song.
It was a REALLY good one, and I got most of it in the dream. As I lay in the bed, half asleep the rest of it came to me. I was ecstatic, but I knew I was in trouble.
I had to remember the song until the evening when I allow myself to write again. Should I have broken the rules? I could have, but I felt it was more important to hold to my principles and abide by whatever happened.
So as I lay there I analyzed the song. I memorized intervals, rhythms, words. I created mnemonics to recite in my head all day.
I kept the song for a couple of hours. Then I stoped thinking about it while I played a game with my son. By the end of the game, the song was gone!
I struggled with the mnemonics and I recovered something of what I’d dreamed. But the thing I’d heard in my dream was perfect, and if one detail was off, I’d have to supplement it with something inferior. I continued to wrestle with the memory.
I struggled all day, and two or three versions of the song began appearing in my head. They were like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Which ones would fit together the best?
By the time the sun finally set and I had a chance to write the song down, I had two or three versions to choose from. I went back and forth between them. After a day or two, I settled on a version that I really loved.
Here’s the kicker: If I’d written down the original version of the song, I would have stuck with it. Instead, I got confused and came up with a better version. And there’s the lesson of the day.
Things that slow us down, keep us from getting what we want, can be a good thing. Sometimes the technology that provides us instant gratification and acknowledgment may be short-circuiting a process that could provide quality. Sometimes it’s good to have to slow down.
In my case, just one day delay resulted in a far better song. Take a listen and see if you agree. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63WJXJ3sqPg
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Adam Cole is a Jazz Musician Who Writes Books. Fantasy author, music educator and performer, Adam chats weekly on the subject of listening, creativity and living your best life. To take a quiz on what kind of music warrior you are, please visit www.mymusicfriend.net