By: Konner Scott
As a songwriter, it’s easy to get stuck in a creative rut. Often, I’ll feel like I’ve tapped out my well of creativity and I no longer have any original songs inside me. What I fail to remember in these situations is that creativity is a river, not a well; always flowing, changing, and evolving. I’ve developed many strategies for shaking up my creative process over the course of my life, but what I’d like to explore today is how to draw direct creative inspiration from the world around you.
One of the best songs I’ve ever written is a guitar tune called “Burial”. It’s a slow, sad, fingerpicked ballad that lyrically expresses what music means to me. I examine my life in a broader scope, and explore the musical legacy I’d like to leave behind.
The chorus culminates with the line “when the [reaper] takes me from this place/bury me in my guitar case”, which – as proud of that line as I am – I cannot take credit for! A couple years ago, at an open mic, I was speaking with an elderly gentleman I’ve seen around the circuit for years. We got to discussing guitars, and he was describing to me a beautiful vintage Gibson Les Paul he had hanging on his wall at home. With a twinkle in his eye, he said “that’s the guitar I want to be buried with”. That line stuck with me, so I borrowed it, tweaked it, and repurposed it- and what emerged is one of my favorite songs from my personal archives.
Inspiration can be drawn from conversation, sure, but more broadly, it can be drawn directly from the world around you. Maybe there’s a line on a billboard that sticks with you on your morning commute. Maybe you overhear a heated exchange between two unhappy spouses in a nearby apartment. Maybe you’re walking through the park, and a powerful message hits you while you’re lost in your own thoughts. Pay attention to what sticks with you and what you remember- often, those things are fertile ground for powerful lyricism!