Song Profiles

Song: A Hundred Flowers
From the album: A Broke Machine (2008)

Maybe I've said this about other songs and forgotten, but I'll say it about "A Hundred Flowers" too: it was the most fun song to write on the album. When I began to write, I had a creative mindset that continually demanded, "surprise me!". So, at every turn in the writing process, I chose a direction I would have not normally followed.

I began to write the song when I was in a creative slump. There was some pressure on me to finish the album - and I thought I was close (though, in the end, I was about 6 months away from completion) and that made things even worse. With a dry well of ideas, I turned to my little stack of index cards with words and phrases I collected to help me in times of failing inspiration. One of the phrases was "Letting a hundred flowers blossom..." from the Hundred Flowers Campaign in China. The original quote was meant to encourage many different schools of thought in order to inspire social progress in the country. Clearly, my song is not a literal exploration of the quote. However, I borrowed its underlying sentiment and began to write the song around its words.

I also went so far as to demand from myself that multiple ideas and approaches be taken while I wrote, in order to test the theory that progress and strength arise through diversity, which is something I do believe. Of course, it was a grandiose thought to apply this social position to the act of songwriting. However, its essence was a good motivator for me to get out of the slump and write something new, from a fresh perspective.

Any time a creative slump hits, it's good to remember that there is no perfection in creation...that creation itself is a messy process born out of curiosity and bravery. A few days ago, I saw this article and would like to share it with you: Why Taking Imperfect Action is the Perfect Action to Take. I encourage you to make your own imperfect, messy, and fun creations. They are a lot better for your happiness than waiting for a slump to pass will ever be.

May 2009