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  • Writer's pictureJay Jacobson

Writing and Agnes de Mille

I’ve been heavy into writing new songs these days. Much like in life, the more I write, the more I come to see that expressing myself is really different than trying to please others. Since music requires an audience (and I do not find satisfaction singing to myself), there is an added element when writing songs. One approach could be to try to write what I think people would like to hear. However, after spending a great deal of my young life pleasing others, I can see how that path left me pretty empty after a while. And honestly, who knows what people like?? Likes (including mine) change with the wind, and you can certainly not please everyone. I am finding myself drawn to writing for myself, and am experiencing great gratification in writing this way. When I express what I want to say in a song, I am happy with it – no matter what others may say. There is a freedom – like looking at a blank canvas and filling it with whatever I want. There is also a joy – in leaving a permanent record of a personal feeling, or thought or some experience (real or imagined). Leaving my personal mark, however small, in this world. Creating something new that didn’t exist before.

There is a quote from the brilliant Agnes de Mille which speaks closely to the feelings I am having:

“Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.” – Agnes de Mille

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