Friday, April 25, 2008

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze?

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were HereIn 1975, Pink Floyd was exhausted. They had just come off an endless tour supporting their genre-defining masterwork Dark Side of the Moon. With that record, they had finally achieved everything they'd wanted in music -- fame, fortune, critical respect, unparalleled success -- but they felt defeated and lost. They needed to quickly follow up on Dark Side to keep their commercial momentum, but the studio sessions did not progress easily. The three songs they had written on tour were arranged and structured to be recorded simply because they were already done and wouldn't require any effort. But even so, the band went about the process lethargically -- just going through the motions. They just weren't feeling it.

And then Roger Waters -- the Floyd's main songwriter and creative force at the time -- hit upon inspiration. Since the entire band was on this same page emotionally, why not use that as the focus for their music? They ditched two of the already-written songs (though they'd turn up on a later album, Animals) and started fresh, composing new material that reflected their miserable, isolated state of mind. The other finished track -- a mournful elegy called "Shine on You Crazy Diamond," an ode to former bandleader Syd Barrett -- was reworked into a two-part suite that bookended the new material.

Though the process started mired in agony, the resulting album -- aptly titled Wish You Were Here -- is today hailed by all members of the band as their favorite. And it only happened because the Floyd were willing to accept their situation as hopeless, shake themselves out of their inertial stupor and take a fresh look at things. They used their biggest stumbling block and used it as inspiration.

This little bit of musical history is a long way of telling you that my planned Saying Story for this month, "Miles and Miles and Miles and Miles and Miles," is not going to happen. It was a great idea when I had it -- it's still a great idea -- but I'm not in the headspace to write it, and haven't been for a while. Just like the Floyd, I kept plugging away at it because it was the only idea I had. But now I've accepted the inevitable, and decided to put aside. (Though I may end up writing it at a later time -- I still like the story.)

Instead, I've followed the example of Roger Waters and turned my interminable funk inside-out. The resulting story -- which I'll probably write this weekend, in one sitting if I can manage it -- is an attempt to work through the shrouded and black mental state that's prevented me from writing in the first place. Turn into the skid, yeah?

Look for the new story, "Owl-Stretching Time," on Wednesday.

Now playing: Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
via FoxyTunes

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