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Thursday, January 1, 2015

"Song of the Candle" & writer's block

Fragments of lyrics from Stan Rogers' "Song of the Candle" came to me just now. For a moment I couldn't think from what song they were a part. I was actually starting a Google search when I remembered it was a bit from Stan Rogers' song about writer's block.

I was embarrassed. Canadian folksinger, Stan Rogers, has been one of my favorite singer/songwriters for 3? 4? decades. When I heard about his unexpected death at work in 1983, I burst into tears--the only time I've ever done that about someone I've never met.

I could go on about Stan, and would if I don't stop myself.

I created this blog to share my thoughts about imagination, inspiration and creativity--ironic given that I've just recovered from a very long stretch of writer's block. Please keep that in mind if--when you read these entries--you think I know what I'm talking about.

I've read many articles offering strategies for overcoming writer's block but hearing someone describe their own struggles helped me more.

Song of the Candle, by Stan Rogers   (original performance)

Song of the Candle

I took up my pen tonight. I couldn't seem to write.
It's like I got religion and then I lost the light
An old woman once told me she'd always felt that way...
She said "Taken from the mold when it can still run
A candle might not keep you from the cold
But buy another candle, son, it's not too much to pay
For one more try." I had to smile
Before I walked away.

Coffee houses bother me. I cannot tell you why.
But, it never seems "hello" sounds as sweet as "goodbye".
And the waitresses, in passing, remember all your names...
They say "Look around and try to meet a single eye."
And empty cups will mock me if I stay but
"Buy another coffee, Stan, it's not too much to pay.
And we will try to raise your smile
Before you walk away."

Tonight in a room full of candles another cup of ashes drains away
And, at times, it gets so hard to handle
Knowing one more song has swiftly taken wing
And I'm left alone to hear the song a lonely candle sings.

The priest, I found, was nervous. He cleared his throat a lot.
But, framed in stained glass windows, his eyes were lost in thought.
And I said "Father, can you tell some happiness my right?"
He said "Rather seek you joy, the blessings of your God,
And happiness from worship in his sight.
And buy another candle son, before you start to pray
And don't forget to cross your breast
Before you walk away."

Tonight, in a room full of candles, another cup of madness drains away.
And at times it gets so hard to handle
Knowing one more simple song has swiftly taken wing.
And I'm left alone to hear the song a lonely candle sings.

One too many cigarettes, slowly burning down
And the final cup of coffee was cold and full of grounds
And maybe one last pipeful might send the words around
Still, underneath my hand this night has slipped away
And it leaves me as empty as this page
One more candle flickers out, the night is turning grey
And I just can't watch the dying flame
I have to walk away.

Tonight I have burned all my candles
Leaving only ashes in their wake...
And at times, I get so hard to handle
'Cause simple songs leave me behind, they all have taken wing
And I'm left alone to hear the song a lonely candle sings...

"Song of the Candle I wrote in 1972, in London, the result of a very hard night trying to write a song the night before. You know, when you sit down to write and nothing comes out and you spend a white night because of it, and watch the sun come up and realize that nothing has been done. That old burned-out, tired and wasted feeling. It’s essentially that trip, but done in a soft ballad way."

"Stan Rogers" at Wikipedia

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