Why song moments are like sunsets -- but not.

On nights when moisture is mostly in the water and not in the air and the sun is at the right angle, I could look outside the kitchen or living room window and snap the above photo. But I don’t. Because while this scene is common, in that it happens on the majority of evenings, it is also rare in that I so often fail to see it, or if I do see it, I am too busy to grab the camera and the tripod and do the scene justice with proper equipment.

Ideas for good songs are similar. They, too, happen every day, but mostly I miss them.

Of course, unlike a sunset, song ideas cannot simply be captured and remembered forever in under a second, regardless of your equipment, so even if I do notice them, they still, mostly, slip away.

There is another key way that song ideas are unlike sunsets: song ideas can’t be immediately sized up and judged. You have to capture them, cage them, tame them and then observe them for a little while. Then you have to be brutally honest with yourself and ask whether the idea is really any good. In my experience, mostly they are not. For every song I finish and feel good about there are at least 10 I finish and feel bad about. More important, for every song idea I capture and tame, there are probably hundreds I never even bother with.

The toughest thing about song ideas? They could care less about any sort of schedule whatsoever and their appearances are utterly random. Sunsets are much more considerate that way.