Behind The Words

By Donna Ulisse
The Poor Mountain Boys and myself have been wearing out the tires on our White Dove rig as we fulfill a big tour schedule this summer. I am happy and sincerely tired and the weird thing is I have been on fire to write, write, write! It seems as though the more worn out my brain is, the more energized my imagination becomes. I have been taking full advantage of the time spent in our van with writing. Those long, boring hours slipping by on the roadways are only boring for the guys in the band. For me, I’ve been living wild tales of floods coming down a mountainside, ready to sweep away my fictitious family and mountain cabin. I’ve been a ghost guarding a sharp turn, on the lookout for foolish drivers taking the curve too fast. I’ve been part of a gossip mill in a small, made-up town trying to figure out what is on a quiet man’s mind and I’ve been involved in another break-up put to a very sad melody. No wonder I am tired; Look at the life I’m living!
My theory for this compulsion to write is a finely tuned imagination. To achieve this, I use meditation in the mornings where I shut out the noisy part of my world and place myself in a state of gratitude, letting my sleepy mind wake up slowly during this sacred time. If I feel like I need a little jolt after I meditate, I try an exercise I might have mentioned in a previous article where I use stream of conscientiousness writing for 10 minutes about a random subject. Mostly what I use is discipline. I believe in it, I live by it and I, write by it.
Keeping your creativity honed will allow you to recognize a song idea when it comes around. Here is an example of an idea coming into focus.
Rick and I were off to teach a songwriting workshop, tooling down the back roads near Cherokee, North Carolina.  The painted green signs on the roadsides read Maggie Valley and somewhere in my brain cells those words started sounding musical to me. We keep a student guitar within arms reach in case this kind of opportunity arises. As Rick continued to guide the wheel, I started noodling around on the six strings until a bouncy melody starts fitting the words that were racing from my mind. Here is the result of my state of awareness:


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