No—some days, I was desperate to take what I was feeling to songwriting because I'm a very structured person to begin with. So to bring a sense of structure, and a rhyme scheme, and discipline, and a melody to these really overwhelming feelings was really useful to me. It also sharpened my skill as a writer because I knew I had to be careful not to topple over into self-indulgence, cheap sentiment. There were times that I thought, am I just doing it for myself? Is this a record I'm just going to make for my living room? But even then, that was fleeting because I knew I wanted to put it out there. By definition, songs have to be shared. There has to be a listener for it to be a song.
How did you avoid the sentimentality that is so common in pop songs about death?
I'm kind of good at that anyway because I don't like songs that are really self-indulgent, or where the writer makes herself a victim, or that play on an audience's exposed emotions. I don't like that, I think it's cheap. So my sense of that just got really sharpened because my feelings were so huge that I had to be more careful not to just devolve into self-pity. Self-pity would have been the worst.
As a mourner as well as a songwriter?
No, I think as a mourner it's perfectly fine to feel sorry for yourself sometimes, but as a songwriter, it's a little bit icky.
You describe songs as "postcards from the future." Where do you think they come from?
|"Postcards from the future"|
I think that when you're in that creative zone, you're tapping into the collective unconscious, and that there's a field there. I think that's the unified field, that creative vast unconsciousness full of beauty and love. And when you're in the zone, as a writer, as a painter, as a cook--any creative endeavor--you can draw on it. Sometimes I feel like the songs are already out there, and that I only get to write the ones that my skills have developed enough to be able to channel. So I want to be a better songwriter because I want to catch better songs.