Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Devil Came Down To Georgia like a Bird on a Wire

If I were to give any advice of any use to you in writing it would be to try, every couple of short stories, every third or fourth poem, to deliberately choose, as a writing exercise, to rewrite what you have done in a different style.  It will open you up, maybe change the way you look at your writing. 

Art is art, and sometimes thinking about one form feeds another. When the great Nashville Icon, Charlie Daniels, composer of The Devil Came Down To Georgia sang that song, the words were one thing, but when he played the fiddle, without words, in the middle of a Nashville Music Hall,  it would be so loud and wild and crazy and strong  that the strings on his fiddle would begin to smoke.   Listen through the song for the wordless places, and feel the energy and power.

(with thanks to Charlie Daniels, his band, and

Could you use words in a style like that?   Could you write a poem that smokes?  Could you carry that kind of energy through a short story?  What would it do to you?  To a reader?  Is there anywhere in your current writing where that kind of power would be right?

Back in the day, Charlie Daniels worked with a young kid called Leonard Cohen.  How they came to know each other is really not important here.  But Daniels played bass in two of Leonard Cohen's albums, the 1969 Songs from a Room and Songs of Love and Hate in 1971. Here is what Daniels had to say of these sessions in Nashville
                "He spoke in poetic ways and was able to communicate with people who had never lived in that world, like myself, and had never been exposed to that side of things.  I'd never been around playing concerts for crowds that were that quiet.  You could  hear, maybe not a pin, but a 10-penny nail roll across the balcony."

                                                    Bird on the Wire  

(with thanks to Leonard Cohen and beemp3)

Daniels adds dreamily, thinking of those days,

                      "I saw another side of music that I had never seen. When I think of Leonard's music, I think of it as very, very fragile.  I'd never been around that kind of music before, that everything that you did had to be something that was unique and that it complemented this very unique, fragile music that Leonard was doing.  You know, what we do is the sum total of what we've done, actually. I was glad to be exposed to that feel, to that thing."

Give it a try.  Write fragile, write power, write quiet and thoughtful, write fire.  See what it does to the way you look at yourself as a writer.  Who you are, sometimes, is as important as what you have to say.

See you soon,



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