I’m not the type who makes a real effort to learn other people’s songs on guitar, even though that was my original intent when I first took up the instrument a few years ago. I have since found that there were songs inside of me waiting to get out, and it is easier for me to write them than it is for me to learn something by someone else.
That said, there is something to learning – or at least playing along to a chord chart – music by other people. This morning I was noodling around, and for reasons which may be revealed later, I was tinkering with a song I grew up despising, Stairway to Heaven. When I was done, I was moving through the progression, forgot where I was, played some chords out of sequence… and suddenly I had a progression for a song I’d recently started, one with a few words but no music.
Authors of novels cross-pollenate all the time. They get ideas from novels other people write. “Well, what if the killer had been the lover instead of the boss?” This happens in music, too. Supposedly Andy Partridge came up with the music for XTC’s Dear God while noodling Rocky Raccoon by the Beatles.
Only musicians don’t talk about it as much. Probably related to that whole George Harrison/My Sweet Lord/He’s So Fine thing.
Listening: Grace Jones, “Love is the Drug” (via iPod Shuffle)