Friday, March 15, 2013

A Downside to Songwriting?

For the past week I've been spending a lot of time thinking and writing about Death Cab for Cutie's fourth album Transatlanticism because I'm working on a piece about its ten-year anniversary. While researching, I found an article in Spin where frontman Ben Gibbard talked about getting sober. What really struck me is how he lumped in the emotionally-draining processes of writing songs with the self-destructive habit of drinking. He went as far to say "Once you realize that a positive act [getting sober] helps to balance out the negative act of being a writer, you become a more balanced person emotionally."

I've talked to a lot of songwriters of the past few years, and I've never heard any of them describe their trade as something negative. Gibbard's quote really fascinated me because most of the time writing is framed anything from a love of storytelling, to therapy, to straight up catharsis. Though, Gibbard's words did bring to mind a George Sands quote I wrote down some time ago: "The writer's trade is a violent, almost indestructible passion. Once it has entered a poor head, nothing can stop it." While I've never written a song, I've written a lot of other things ranging from fiction to lengthy non-fiction features. Weirdly, I've always liked the idea of there being something slightly sinister about writing because it's hard not to wonder how anything that requires so much stress, anxiety, and emotional output could be remotely healthy.

Anyhoodle, I thought this was something worth pondering. Obviously, no, songwriting is not unhealthy. I hope.

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