If You’re a Republican, You Are the Problem

A little while ago, maybe a week before the election, it was brought to my attention that some of my Republican friends were upset at my characterization of them as “racist idiots”. I call them “friends” because they are friends — they are people that I genuinely like having in my life. I like seeing them and spending time with them. Furthermore, I am a firm believer that being friends with people whom you may disagree with, or even find some of their beliefs wholly repugnant, is THE only way to affect durable change. …

I don’t much care for the term “writer’s block”. It feels like that ought to apply exclusively to people who string words together. Or maybe it could apply to musicians as well, I mean after all, songs are “written” right? But as a “writer”, musician and artist, I can tell you that “writer’s block” is not the specific malady that the phrase implies. There are myriad reasons for creative unproductivity, not all just inspirational void. “Creative resistance” feels a bit more accurate to me, though admittedly not as catchy.

Why does it matter so much what we call it? Because that informs how we think about and treat the issue. Often the way it’s written about is very narrowly focused on overcoming the absence of ideas or lack of creative inspiration. There’s a lot of advice out there about how to deal with that specific dilemma. The problem is that every word of that advice is wrong. Every. Single. Word. Often that advice misses the point: it’s not about unleashing some creative deluge of ideas (sometimes a deluge can be its own problem). …

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“My god, there are a lot of people out there.” This was not a statement of fact, or delighted astonishment. This was an exclamation of terror. The excitement of having finally gotten on a big stage, in front of a lot of people that had dominated much of the last several days, evaporated. So complete was this erasure that even the memory of that giddy anticipation was inaccessible. All there was at that moment was the fear that demanded all of her attention.

The people weren’t the faceless blobs or dots in a single amorphous mass she had hoped for. There were faces. Pleasant faces, pretty faces, anxious faces, perturbed faces, angry faces, ambivalent faces. Some of them had beards, some of them wore too much makeup, some were capped with brightly colored hair, or baseball caps, fedoras, stocking caps and even one beret. …

How to Write a Song.

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I think a lot of people believe that music is easy. That you just get some guitars and drums, maybe a piano. Maybe you just fill in some blocks on a computer screen, put it to a beat and throw some words on top. The words can even be totally impossible to understand, the mind will fill in the blanks. It’s even kind of a joke now; like how many songs are out there where lyrics are universally misunderstood, y’know? Just four chords and a hook. I suppose people will simplify anything they don’t fully understand. But I think it happens more with music. Maybe it’s because so many of the musicians out there look like kids. Right? Like, what can kids really be that great at? They haven’t even been alive long enough to be experts at something. …


Matt Derouin

Musician and writer in St. Louis, MO matt.derouin@gmail.com

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