Jan 8, 2009

The Word Box

The Word Box came into existence in late 2003.

I think.

It started as an old Whitman's Sampler box and it slowly filled with words. These words came from random magazines and newspapers (mostly issues of Sports Illustrated at the time) and soon after the box itself became covered with words and countless rolls of tape. (As pictured left.) Unaware of it's purpose, you make think of it as a creepy looking ransom note writers letter box with the different sized letters and random fonts along with the pair of very sharp scissors I've always kept inside.

But the idea came from less creepy sources, a random website (sorry, I can't give credit to the writer, but thank you whoever you are) as an idea to get the creative juices going. At the time I was still a young songwriter (I still feel like a young songwriter) and I was always looking for new ways to come up with creative ideas.

My problem was that I always wrote my lyrics from personal experiences. I needed to something get me out of that funk that had me writing about being bored in class and not knowing what I was going to do that weekend. I didn't live the life of a rock star, drinking and doing drugs and I lived in Maine. I felt like I had nothing to write about. But it wasn't that, it's just that I wasn't being creative enough.

So when I was stuck for an idea I would reach into the word box, pull out a word or two and figure out how it made me feel. Sometimes the word or phrase would become the title and the song would form from that idea. Or sometimes it would become a simple line and the song would build around it. No matter what, a good couple of words would get me thinking about other things, most likely helping me build a story that had nothing to do what I was going through or maybe giving me a creative way of portraying something I was going through.

The first song that came out of the box was a song called "Lost In The Fray" which you can listen to in the player in the top right corner of this blog. Oddly enough, the lyrics for that song didn't come from a word or phrase that was pulled out of the box, but the idea behind the box and using these random cut out words as lyrics as a way to finally create a song. As the song goes:

"When the crowd comes crashing down/When I'm out of things to say/All my clipped out words get lost in fray/Hey now someday, someway, my god, my words will crash in."

The most obvious phrase being "All my clipped out words get lost in fray". It doesn't have to be literal in context with the song but that's originally how it came about.

Many songs and many years later, the box has been with me, being used sparingly. The last evidence of the box's original purpose is the bottom which displays the the nutrition facts of some tasty chocolates. The inside no longer smells of the sweet confections but of creativity (or old paper, however you want to imagine it.).

I continue to add to the word box every once and a while just to keep things fresh. I actually cut a word out of an old Pepsi 12-pack box the other day. But as I wrote in my earlier post, "New Year, New Goals, New Tunes?", 2009 is the year for the song, and I think the word box will be playing a major role in many songs to come.

And since my last post I came across something inspiring that's made me think, you know what, screw resolutions! As John Lai says, "Don't make resolutions, make actions. Resolutions are just thoughts. Actions you actually go do." Check out this video here, simple but inspiring words. Definitely a code to live by.

Rock on everyone!

2 comments:

movin' down the road said...

I like that. Very cool. writing from personal experience is where it gets good, all the time. Keeps it real, you know?

Frye said...

I love personal experience songs. The final product always means so much more. But I also love a good story, total fiction, want to write me some of those.

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