Inspiration from bad things

Discussion about guitar playing from a diverse group of people with different tastes and levels of experience.
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Ignar Hillström
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by Ignar Hillström » February 25th, 2011, 3:08 am

jason brann wrote:
kent_eh wrote:
Ignar Hillstrøm wrote:Art history is filled with people who drew inspiration from sadness and madness...
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
for anyone who doesn't know, that came to coleridge in an opium dream, and when a person knocked on his door, he went to answer it and forgot the rest when he came back to it.
stuff like that happens to me all the time.
Which is probably little more then a cute imaginary event. Regardless, you can read the rest of the poem here:

http://poetry.eserver.org/kubla-khan.html
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jason brann

Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by jason brann » February 25th, 2011, 11:30 pm

no, obviously most music isn't written in the limo on the way to a burial, and obviously there has been a whole lot of dreck written about bad times. i'm also not suggesting you submit yourself to tragedy to draw inspiration. that's just masochism. but again, people don't suddenly forget how to write or play just because something tragic is occurring in their lives.
i forgot to list bach's partita in d, completed less than a year after his wife's death, and considered by many to be his greatest work, and possibly the greatest all of in classical music, and mozart's requiem, written on his own death bed.
while my guitar gently weeps was released in 1968. layla was released in 1970. that gives eric a year and a half window in which to fall in love with patti while sleeping with her sister, write all the lyrics, and record an epic, all while doped to the gills.
blood on the tracks, which you did not refute, was recorded in sept of 68 about dylan's marriage breaking up, which he claimed started happening in april of that year. live 1966 was recorded at the end of a tour in which dylan battled furiously against crowds dismayed to see him go electric, and again, a masterpiece.
pet sounds was written after brian wilson had to stop touring after a nervous breakdown, as was most of smile. he continued to write until his coke habit made him useless.
robert johnson hit the road after his first wife and kid died and second wife was dying.
in utero was written less than a year before cobain or whoever blew his brains out
add elliott smith to the list.
willie johnson went blind as a child after his stepmom threw lye in his eyes, and died due to exposure after his house burned down and he had no where to sleep but in the burnt out skeleton of it. most of the stuff in the middle wasn't great, either, spent playing for handouts on streetcorners.
i didn't list every blues player ever, just those two specifically, for those reasons. don't call it cartoonish or cute, it makes you look like an idiot.
i'd also like to point out that van gogh spent most of his life broke and insane, drawing starry night while in an asylum. and that i didn't list a lot of great music written while in the midst of addictions of one form or another.

i know there's a lot of edits.
Last edited by jason brann on February 26th, 2011, 12:06 am, edited 6 times in total.

jason brann

Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by jason brann » February 25th, 2011, 11:38 pm

Ignar Hillstrøm wrote:
Which is probably little more then a cute imaginary event.
coleridge's description of himself in the incident in question: after falling asleep from opium, "On awakening he appeared to himself to have a distinct recollection of the whole, and taking his pen, ink, and paper, instantly and eagerly wrote down the lines that are here preserved. At this moment he was unfortunately called out by a person on business from Porlock, and detained by him above an hour" and forgot the rest.
he wrote this as a preface to the original publication as an explanation for it's abrupt ending, before it became popular.

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Ignar Hillström
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by Ignar Hillström » February 27th, 2011, 9:49 am

Jason, you're not really providing any argument besides saying that 'bad things have happened to people', and that there have been people who created well-known works of art after that. I dont think anyone doubts that bad things happen to people, nor that artists have drawn inspiration from it. Your point seems to be that 'people dont forget how to write music' when something bad happens, but that's hardly what this is all about. I'm not suggesting Eric Clapton forgot how play an E-minor chord when his child died, but it does take perspective and a somewhat balanced mind to translate such an experience into a meaningfull work of art. People who are, for example, psychotic or deeply depressed usually are not capable of that. Whatever happened may be inspirational but most people tend to create way better works when they can reflect upon it with a clear mind.

Your examples don't really bring anything against this point of view. While Cobain, for example, was very open about his depressive feelings it should not let you to believe he was 24/7 on the edge of suicide. You can't possibly know how his emotions fluctuated during his final years and the idea that 'he killed himself, he did something cool earlier, so wanting to kill yourself and doing some cool must be related.' is rather flawed. Same with Brian Wilson, who was by that time most likely in the prodromal stage of schizophrenia. Withdrawing from stressfull activities as touring would have been a vast improvement to him and his mental health, atleast enough to give him the time to do pet sounds before things got really out of control.

The bottomline is that there is a huge ammount of very strong evidence that people tend to be a lot less creative when depressed (in sharp contrast with mania!), and lack the focus and attention required when psychotic. Hence my earliers 'sadness and madness' statement. Yes, with a world population of seven billion people you'll be bound to find a handful of people who'll respond differently then most people to certain situations. But that's not particularly relevant here. Kopfschmerzen started this topic because he has a problem: he has trouble playing well when he doesnt feel well, yet he heared that bad things can be inspirational. These two observations are correct: when people dont feel well, or actually feel really bad, they do tend to become less good at what they do, do it less, and when they do it do it with less enthousiasm, drive and passion. And yes, after those feelings waned you'll be able to 'observe' what happened and translate that into a work of art (if you got the skill ofcourse). The average duration of a depressive episode, regardless of etiology, is three months. This would easily explain how people like Clapton and Cobain create their work within a year of some event, and it also explains why they didnt do it within two months of it. Same for those blues folks you mention. Wilson had much different problems, which were also greatly deepened by his personal doctor/psychiatrist. Addiction is really a completely different beast as well and has little to do with madness or sadness.

Hope this clears it up, and when things are really unclear to you just knock on the door of your local psychology faculty. I'm sure they'll be able to recommend a truckload of books and articles about this.
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by jason brann » February 27th, 2011, 9:57 am

...
Last edited by jason brann on February 27th, 2011, 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Ignar Hillström
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by Ignar Hillström » February 27th, 2011, 10:30 am

:lol:
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by jason brann » February 27th, 2011, 10:37 am

i've made my point, you've made yours. as for the rest, i'm just gonna drop it. it's really no business of mine how much time or effort you want to put into your music.

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Kopfschmerzen
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by Kopfschmerzen » February 28th, 2011, 4:03 am

Wow. No need to fight, really :) As for me, I did get my personal message. Hopefully it will not sink into oblivion with time. thanks everyone!

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kent_eh
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by kent_eh » March 3rd, 2011, 1:41 pm

jason brann wrote: i'm also not suggesting you submit yourself to tragedy to draw inspiration.
That made me remember this:

Code: Select all

...
Now I was doin' better with a smaller piece of pie
But all my fame and fortune I can't identify
I lost the inspiration that came natural in the start
I have to hire a mean old woman, just to break my heart
Now my life's too easy, I think I'm getting soft
I used to play the blues all day, but now I just play golf
Now all my pain is rearranged, my life has changed it's tune
'cause I can't play the blues in an airconditioned room
...
:lol:
I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep

Cat
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Re: Inspiration from bad things

Post by Cat » March 26th, 2011, 1:43 am

Dude! I just came outta a meat grinder! This was after bein' flushed down a toilet and through the sewer works!

Great song material, though...

Cat
"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"

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