In the summer of 2012, I had the opportunity to go work on a new property my mother’s ex-fiance had bought. He had bought the house for $60,000 and it needed a lot of work. In fact, it was barely a home fit for humans to live in, mostly due to the fact that there was no running water. But I made due with what I had. The owner of the house offered me to live there for free, in exchange for working on the house while I lived there. I had just done a couple semesters in NYC for a teaching degree I was working towards, and I needed a break from the big city. A summer away is just what it seemed I needed, and so when the opportunity presented itself, I hopped on a bus, and took it.
One of my favorite things about songwriting is that songwriting gives us writers the chance to take really bad external circumstances and turn them into beautiful songs. The obvious example would be how a really bad break up can lead to some of the richest most emotional music. I was to be living in a big home by myself, in a town no larger than a few hundred people, with lots of time to relax and work on the home.
When I arrived at the mountain house, I was in serious need of healing. On my first morning there, I took my guitar and walked a good 15 minutes and went into a forest nearby. I sat on a rock with all the trees around me, took out my guitar, and began to sing. After having gone through weeks and weeks of difficulties, there was nothing more healing to me than my guitar and my voice. That was all I wanted to do.
Ok, the rock was probably was more similar to this picture:
That summer, I worked on the home and got a part-time job at the only cafe in town. I spent the rest of the time going on walks, and mostly hung out on the porch songwriting. Which brings me to the title of this post, which is that everyone needs a good porch! It can be an actual porch, or a metaphorical porch, a place where you feel you can get away from it all, a place where it is quiet enough for you to feel what you’re feeling and to see how it comes out in your songs. I wrote a lot of songs that summer and worked a lot to improve my instrument.
Finding a quiet place away from it all is crucial not just to songwriting but in our lives in general. You want to find a place in your life (if possible) that it is quiet enough that you hear and feel what is coming up for you emotionally. Making sure you have a good space to write from is of utmost importance as a songwriter. Where is your favorite place to write from? Currently while living in NYC, I would have to say my bed ( isn’t written on your bed the best?) and Central Park. Where is the most special place you have ever written?
My new porch (central park):