Guest Blog: Anais Mitchell

Somebody bought me a subscription to American Songwriter a few years back. I try not to read music magazines because I can get totally sucked in and then afterwards I end up feeling kinda like I feel after I read fashion magazines. The musical equivalent of oh, god, my thighs are fat. But I realized quickly that American Songwriter was different and I'm really a fan of what you're up to, I just love the attention to the actual art and craft of songwriting. So often that process is veiled and I understand why, because it's mystical, it can't be reduced to a formula, you feel somehow that to talk about it is undignified, kiss-and-tell. But I think not talking about it leads to this weird myth that songs should write themselves, that unless they tumble out in a rush, fully formed, they're not truly inspired. Which has not been my experience at all. For me the stuff that tumbles out in a rush is usually journal-type ego drivel and it's the songs I really give a long incubation to that feel more lean and true. I had a dream once during a summer I was wrestling with some serious writer's block. I had taken a part-time job and was staying off the road just to be able to wake up and write, and I was putting in the hours, day after day, and really didn't have anything to show for it. Creative work is unfair like that, you can go to your day job and put in this many hours and know you'll get this much money, but creative work is like, you get the wind in your sails, or not, and it's not an even trade. Anyway I had this dream that David Rawlings came to me with the master of the new Gillian Welch album. This was before The Harrow and the Harvest and I, along with the... Sign In to Keep Reading

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