Writing comes in many forms and in this weeks interview I thought it would be interesting to get a whole new perspective. Phil Harris, songwriter and musician shares with us his thoughts on how and why he writes.
“The need to be creative and express myself has been with me since early childhood, as was the need to be captain of the ruby team or win the race. The need to be noticed through art, music, or poetry, evolved into the need to make sense of my troubled adolescence, but as I approach the age of 60 I feel those times are fading. My most proficient crafts are playing blues guitar and my song writing. I have to have a vehicle for my work to keep me inspired. For 10 years a large part of my living was playing jazz and during that period I played very little blues and didn’t write any songs. 2 years ago I wrote a musical that wouldn’t have been written unless the producer who liked the out-line, sample scene, and a couple of songs, hadn’t given me a definite thumbs up on when it would be staged, when rehearsals would start, and deadlines to work towards.
I currently work with my reformed band www.Clubofnoregrets.co.uk Writing for this band I am mindful of Terri’s delivery of the material as a singer and of course being female. ‘How did we fall in love’ and ‘Boom Boom’, (sound clips on the web site) are written from the female perspective and the lyrics develop like characters in a novel. Empathic imagination based on observations. Other songs are deeply personnel but hopefully written so that the listener can find their own story in the song. I start with a mood that becomes the guitar groove or sequence, which I then sing over. Cod lyrics are a device for realizing the melody and it’s particular rhythm so that I won’t forget. I don’t record my ideas, I just keep playing over until the shape becomes fixed and I usually go to bed dreaming the song. The cod lyrics sometimes tell me what the song is about which already has an emotional contour from the delivery of the melody. After establishing the essence and anchoring that to a moment in my life so lucid it becomes profound in some way, I then spend days and some times weeks tinkering with phrases and images that bring light to that moment. I try to stay true to myself at these times refusing the writers prerogative to just throw lines in because they fit or sound cool. On occasions I believe I have reached my goal only to find the band changing bits and seeing the material in a different way. One of my better songs Terri refused to even try singing, as she didn’t like the material, but usually I’m blown away by the band and feel privileged to be working with such talented colleagues.”
Phil Harris www.minorswing.co.uk