Creativity is such a hard thing to pin down. Sometimes you can access creativity through persistence. Pushing through all of those times when you really don’t feel inspired. Sometimes it falls down on you like a wave, and you can’t imagine how it wasn’t so obvious before. Sometimes it’s taking a risk. And sometimes it’s doing what you’ve always done. But I think the core of it is that you have to be willing to change, to move, to evolve. And not stick to something because it’s a tried and tested formula.
I think creatively, I get most of my inspiration from music. Because I can listen to the lyrics and let my mind wander at the same time. I can imagine myself somewhere different, someone different. And I can be changed in the moment.
When I was at the Bruce Springsteen concert recently, I was inspired by it. As a pretty big fan, I can see it. That look on his face. The inflection in his voice, singing a song that once was his moment but isn’t anymore. And he sings it with some irony and some nostalgia and some love and even a tiny bit of stoic regret.
He has been in and out of the E-Street band for 45 years. Most marriages don’t last that long. And that comes through too. But the interesting thing about it is that they allowed it to change. He has been criticised many times for changing musical styles. Or selling out. Because he moved within the styles of folk and rock and country. But if he didn’t it would have been an artistic death
Sometimes things that you write get misinterpreted. Born in the USA was like that. And in the couple of concerts I saw the set list for, they didn’t play it. Perhaps because they don’t like the misinterpretation or perhaps that with the current anti-US sentiment it might have been poorly received with the common misinterpretation being what it is.
One of my favourite songs of his is The Ghost of Tom Joad, followed closely by so many things. My Father’s House is another song very close to my heart. I have equal love for the Rage Against The Machine Cover of The Ghost of Tom Joad. Which rarely happens. And so when they did what can only be described as a mash up of the original and the cover at the concert (because the Rage Against the Machine guitarist was touring with the E-street band) it was a highlight. And I was struck by how not many artists would sacrifice their original to a cover to create something new.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be truly creative. Not like some people are. But I do know that when people put you in a box, and you change. They don’t see you anymore, they just see the box.
But you can’t change how people see you. You could burn that box. And they’d still see it there. Instead of the piles of ashes at your feet. All you can do is change, move, grow and take a few risks along the way. Some people will see it, some people won’t. That’s ok.
The older I get, the more I regret. Hindsight is a hell of a thing. It tricks you into believing you could be better before you knew better. But you can’t. Most things, I hope for fond regret, instead of self-loathing regret.
Mostly, I just want to create something that has a life beyond my own. I don’t know what it will be. But I”m willing to try. I’m willing to step out of the box. I’m willing to change. Even if it means I have to look back on some of the things with nostalgia and regret.
The courage of creativity is a many-faceted thing. You have to be willing for people to hate you. You have to be willing for people to misinterpret you. And you have to believe that people will see what you are really trying to do. You have to be ready to end up somewhere that is very far away from your original vision.
Don’t look at the box. Look at the person. And give them the ability to change. They might inspire you in ways you never thought possible.