By New Times
By Derek Askey
By Mark Deming
By Serene Dominic
By Jason Keil
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Jeff Moses
By Serene Dominic
"Everyone has memories -- when you were 11 years old, and you were walking down a particular street on a certain day, the sound of a certain wind blowing through the trees, the sound your feet made on the stones as you came up the drive and the way the light hit the side of the house in a particular way. Everyone has memories like that, that they carry with them for no explicable reason. And whether you call them sense memories or whatever, they live within you. They are an essential part of who you are. They may not be connected; but you had some moment of experience that stayed with you on that particular day [and] revealed to you what it meant to be alive -- what it means to be alive! -- what the stakes are.
"That can be brought back. Your life can be brought back to you by the sound of your feet on the gravel at a certain moment. That's the writer's job. [As a writer] you collect and create those moments out of your own experience, and the world around you. Then you use your imagination and put all those things together. And that experience you present to your audience, who then experience their own inner vitality, their own center, their own questions about their own life, their moral life, whatever you're writing about.
"And there's a connection made. That's your job. That's what you're paid for -- somebody says, 'Hey, I'm not alone!' That alchemy or whatever you want to call it is what you're paid for. It can be onstage at night. It doesn't necessarily have to be done literally; it can be done just through an explosion of energy at a particular moment in a particular way that makes somebody want to stand up, move themselves, go home and do whatever they feel they need to do. You just try to bring forth experience and get people in touch with all of those things in their world. That's the real job. That's the job that keeps you writing. That's what keeps you wanting to write the next song. Because you can do that to people. "And because -- if I do it for you, then I'm doing it for me."