Why Write?

Why write indeed?  I've been writing songs for a little over fifty years.  I started when I was in Grade Six with my first band.  We were called the First Million Megaton Explosion, a title that I stole from a Marvel comic book.  There were four of us:  Wade, Joe, Randy and I.  Joe was the drummer, the rest of us played guitars.  We didn't know any songs so we thought, What the heck! let's write our own!  Wade and I co-wrote two songs, "Loneliness" and "Overall Disintegration".  Remember, this was 1969.  We were very earnest.  Wade wrote one on his own, called "Martin Luther King" and Randy wrote "Sally and Meade" in the style of "A Boy Named Sue".  Randy was the Country and Western aficionado of the group.

Our Grade Six teacher invited us to play for the class. Our classmates booed us and the First Million Megaton Explosion didn't really survive it's first gig.  On another note, Randy recently reached out to on Facebook after not seeing each other for many, many years.  He actually remembered the words to "Loneliness".  Unbelievable!

So why write?

I can't think of any good reasons.  I haven't made it "big" or struck it rich. I've earned some royalties from SOCAN over the years, but I don't make my living from music.  Getting rich is not the reason to write.

I didn't ask myself "Why write?" when I was a kid.  I just did it. I loved music and was moved to create alternate versions of my favourite songs.  I wrote such gems as "Golf-ball Wizard", "The Searcher", "Ox-Man" and "Run For Shelter".  These were based on "Pinball Wizard" and "The Seeker" by the Who, "Apeman" by the Kinks and of course, "Helter Skelter" by the Beatles.

Eventually I started writing songs that weren't knock-offs of other people's songs, at least not directly. By the end of Grade Twelve I was writing songs that I was actually proud of and began performing them live.

Still, why write?

It has never occurred to me to write for other people.  Many songwriters do just that and some even make a good living at it.  But all my faves - Pete Townshend, Lennon-McCartney, Jagger-Richards, Taupin-John, wrote for themselves primarily.  I've always seen myself in that mode.  Whether I've co-written, or written by myself, my songs have been meant as forms of self-expression.  They are a way to make my mark, to say "Here I am!  This is me!"

A friend of mine, Blair Packham, in his website has declared much the same thing.  He says he doesn't write for anyone else but himself.  His songs are his form of self expression.

Bob Dylan has said that for the songs that he wanted to hear, he had to write himself.  (I think I am paraphrasing.)  The same goes for me- me and Bob! I write the songs I write because they are the songs I want to hear.  Now, if someone else wanted to sing or record any of my tunes I would be exceedingly pleased and flattered!