Of the River

 “Part of my character is made up of an obsession to push something to the limit. It can be of great use if my obsession is channeled into constructive thought or creativity, but it can also be mentally or physically or spiritually destructive. I think what happens to an artist is, when he feels the mood swings that we all suffer from if we’re creative, instead of facing the reality that this is an opportunity to create, he will turn to something that will stop that mood, stop that irritant. And that would be drink or heroin or whatever. He won’t want to face that creative urge, because he knows the self-exploration that must be undertaken, the pain that must be faced. This happens most, or very painfully, to artists. Unless they realize what it is that is doing that to them, they’ll always be dabbling in something or other to kill it.” Eric Clapton, Rolling Stone Interview, 1985.

When I re-read this old Clapton interview, I had the same reaction that Beth did when I spoke it out loud to her – OUCH!

The dark shadow a creative has to encounter and pass-through is very painful. The alternative is denial.

Of course, there are times when we move into the light when the urge to create comes on and we move into it freely. This is heaven on earth for me.

The darkness isn’t all bad, of course. We get to write, paint or make some pretty cool stuff that we find in the shadows of our trauma or even current events. This can be cathartic for the writer and the audience. Also, anyone who has been involved in therapy or other growth work can point to epiphanies that have changed their lives because they dove into their trauma.

All of that said, what really interests me about the Clapton quote and my work today is that I keep showing up and keep creating. I need to keep my foot on the gas pedal so I don’t roll to a stop.

What’s important here – and I really want it to be my credo – is that I keep writing, that I choose to compose here, in the book or in a song INSTEAD of falling into a TV, social media or a bagful of peanut M&Ms. It makes me happy.

NOTE: The work product that comes out of this state doesn’t have to be brilliant! It’s better to write something that will never see the light of day than nothing at all. This may be the case with the lyrics below. It’s just wordsmithing, sometimes.

Both of these lyrics are simple, straightforward songs with similar structures. The first one is from the perspective of a woman telling her life story, but there’s a bit of my life story in there, too. The second is a more personal reflection on a feeling a lot of us get when near the water.

Forever 
©2022 Scott Bierko
 
Forever is a long time
When you’re only twenty-two
But some things last forever
At least I hope they do
 
We met outside on Christmas eve
You cut our family tree
We dated for eleven months
You got down on one knee
Your parents said “She’s too young
You hardly know your mind!
Just wait until she’s pregnant
And you’ll wish you took your time”
 
CHORUS
 
We made it through the lean years
You worked while I stayed home
We grew closer in the teen years
The hardest ones we’ve known
Your parents like me fine, now
And we all get along
They love their handsome grandsons
They say, “We pegged you wrong.”
 
CHORUS
 
My husband is my best friend
I’m lucky, yes, I know
My family’s fine and healthy
Thank God above it’s so
And if one should want to marry
Before he’s twenty-five
I’ll tell him that forever
Happens one day at a time
 
CHORUS

 

Of the River

©2022 Scott Bierko

 

Money comes and goes

But memories remain

It’s why we’re on the road

Instead of in the game

We took a bunch of troubles

And let that vision go

It wasn’t really working, and

We’re better in the flow

Of the river

Outside this town

That winding river

I love that sound

Of the river

Of the river

Of the river

 

Whenever life gets heavy

We go and clear our heads

To breathe in mountain air and

Sense the beauty here instead

A place that we are drawn to

A moment we can spend

Walking to the bridge, and

Moving right around the bend

Of the river

Outside this town

That winding river

I love that sound

Of the river

Of the river

Of the river

I had a dream that I was lost somewhere deep inside the woods

My heart was beating faster I thought, “Now, I’m done for good.”

That’s when I heard a sound that made me light up like a star

And the river spoke to me and said, “I know just where you are.”

(I’m) Of the river

Outside this town

That winding river

I love that sound

Of the river

Of the river

Of the river

 

 



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