An artist on her creative process

Annie Lennox, artist.
Annie Lennox, artist.

 

True confessions time: Back in the ’80s I had a crush on Annie Lennox, and it’s never gone away. Me and millions of others.

It wasn’t just her striking good looks and the magnetism of her performances that drew me in. It was also the complexity, nuance, and fierce intelligence in the music she made with Dave Stewart as the Eurythmics. Her solo career has been just as compelling.

I was thinking about this today after stumbling across a pair of videos in which Lennox talks about learning how to become an artist and sheds light on her own creative process.

The first was part of a series of short videos by The Atlantic exploring the idea of creative breakthroughs. To be an artist, she says here,

You don’t have to be the best, best, best. If you love doing what you’re doing and you have a passion for it, it’s good enough.

The second video was produced by the Victoria and Albert Museum to accompany an exhibition of celebrating her image and creative vision. That video opens with a discussion of the nature of inspiration:

The inspiration for song writing … hmmm … I think it starts with this capacity to respond to sound, to rhythm, to melodic line, to chordal progressions. And also at the core of it is something about needing to express something. I think that human beings are like sponges for all the externals that are affecting them.

To bring a lift to your Friday afternoon, here’s a performance of one of my favorite Eurythmics songs, recorded live in Sydney, Australia in 1987.

“I would rather go out for a hotdog than write a song I didn’t like”

prine 2On a cold, gray February Monday, a short documentary on creativity, featurng singer-songwriter John Prine.

Let me say this about Prine and his music. Despite the best efforts of friends and bandmates, it has taken me longer to appreciate Prine’s music than it should have. In part that’s because, to my casual ear, much of it sounds the same. His finger-picking style of guitar work doesn’t vary all that much from song-to-song, and his voice falls into a natural rhythm and intonation that likewise carries over from song to song, and album to album.

But … listen to the lyrics. That’s where Prine’s brilliance shines forth. This documentary, from former Today Show correspondent Mike Leonard, takes a look at creativity and the creative process, with Prine as the chief example. You can read more about this documentary here, and then more about Prine and his ties to Chicago and the Old Town School of Folk Music here.

And finally, take a break from your Monday morning and listen to Prine perform “Paradise,” one of my favorite songs.