Create Without Caution

The second song on my CD is the title track, “Create Without Caution.”

This song is an anthem for me, an affirmation that addresses my inner critic, the voice that says, “Be safe, Scott. You’re less likely to fall if you stay by the trunk of the tree and avoid crawling out onto those flimsy, shaky branches.”

Almost every writer begins, necessarily, by copying his heroes. Whether it’s John Lennon or Stephen King, I was a reader and listener long before I tried my own hand at composing. And then, it’s taken fifty mostly-mediocre songs and lots of essays before I started to find my own voice.

“Create Without Caution”, then, is a reminder to trust that voice, to crawl out onto the branch instead of retreating safely to the trunk of the tree.

So, what does it mean to be incautious? To me, it’s about vulnerability, particularly with my lyrics. When I teach lyric writing, I implore students to drop down another level or two. Here’s a bit from Paul Simon’s “Song About the Moon”:

If you want to write a song about the moon
Walk along the craters of the afternoon
When the shadows are deep and the light is alien
And gravity leaps like a knife off the pavement

And you want to write a song about the moon
You want to write a spiritual tune
Then nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Presto, a song about the moon

If you want to write a song about the heart
Think about the moon before you start
Because the heart will howl like a dog in the moonlight
And the heart can explode like a pistol on a June night

So if you want to write a song about the heart
And it’s ever longing for a counterpart
Then nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Write a song about the moon…

Simon is/was a risktaker. He is incautious and crafts better songs that only Bob Dylan, Donald Fagan or John Lennon can equal on a consistent basis. (There are surely others, but those are a few of my favorites.)

The last thing I’d like to add to this is the life force that erupts inside of us when we step into the wild unknown. When we step out onto that branch, feel the fear and do it anyway, we are alive. Such is my wish for us all.

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