“Fire is viewed by Christians, the Chinese, and the Hebrews as being a symbol of divinity.” Fire can represent different things to different people, but many people associate it with desire, burning passions, motivation, an inner light, transformation, and creativity.
A few years ago, I started asking the universe (or who/whatever you choose to call it), what I should do with my life. Out of the blue a tiny light appeared and it’s stayed with me ever since. Whoooohooooo. Soon I came to recognize it as my own inner light, and through the years, it was my motivation for creating music. It’s a constant in my life now, and continues to light my way and to connect me to others as a songwriter, performer and teaching artist. Often when I am “stuck” and can’t seem to find the right word, phrase or concept, I stop whatever I’m working on, close my eyes and focus on that inner light. It may be small but ALWAYS guides me into a direction that feels right.
“Throughout history, water has been used as a symbol of wisdom, power, grace, music, and the undifferentiated chaos that gave rise to the material world.” (Wiley Online Library) I couldn’t agree more with this quote! The free flow of water makes me think of freedom, beauty, and the formation of life.
Creativity seems to be a lot like water. It also ebbs and flows, barely moves, freezes, floats, dams back reservoirs, cascades down waterfalls, and drips slowly one drop at a time. And the songwriting process is also as fluid as water. Your words, melodies and rhythms need to be fluid and flexible enough to change. After all, a song that might have started in one direction might steer you into a completely different channel—just like water does. I was assigned to write this song for a movie about Barney—that good old purple dinosaur. It HAD to have a Raggedy Ann in it, be in a certain key and last 2 minutes and 12 seconds.
Of all the elements, air represents breath, atmosphere, sensitivity, power, energy, and growth! With each inhale and each exhale there is an element of giving thanks- for each breath and for the oxygen that fuels us daily. With air comes the ease of transformation and the change of seasons and emotions. When people create, they are certainly relying on their own experiences and beliefs, but any creative process basically starts from a blank slate or an idea that starts from what I call “the air.” I was thinking of the wind as it blows the beautiful autumn leaves and was inspired to write this song.
The fourth element we know is Earth, which represents the ground, our roots, and the foundation to who we are and what we stand for. It’s one of the most important elements as we need to stay grounded throughout our lives in order to grow and develop. For me, the creative process is definitely NOT grounded, yet by writing and singing about our own experiences here on earth, we connect others with our music. And that is incredibly exciting. This song “Someday Baby” is how I got into writing for children and families. It was a publisher’s assignment. I was literally sitting on the floor (earth) of a cold duplex in Nashville, focusing on that inner light, (fire) sipping a cup of tea, (water) with the window open (air) and was inspired to write my first lullaby.
It was almost unearthly, because sometimes as a songwriter, I feel as if the songs are somehow coming through me. I am just this tiny earthly being, who’s here on earth for a limited time, and completely connected and dependent on fire, water, air and earth to live and to do the work I do.