How to write songs (as told by Paul Simon)

This little statement is in the sleevenotes of So Beautiful or So What and, as I get engaged with writing again, it rings as true as any description I’ve ever heard of the creative process:

How do the fingers of this thing entwine?

Which foot falls first upon the trail?
Is it the word? Is it the music?
It generates few visible blisters, so may even be taken for an unearned reward.
As Fred Astaire once wisely sang, you have to ‘Let Yourself Go’
So how do you begin? When do you know when you’ve reached your destination?
What do you cut and when do you run without painting over the picture?
A thing of beauty?
Who needs it?
But that’s the very mystery and fascination of it?
The trick is, as I know it, to care like hell and not give a damn at the same time or, as more elegantly proposed here, ‘So Beautiful or So What.’


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