“No man is an island” is a phrase that’s been with us for many years. It’s basically saying that no one’s ever alone, no one’s unconnected from human beings and the suffering of the world. We’re all in this together, interconnected in many ways. So, it’s true: No man is an island. Though this is especially true for country music songwriters. We share what’s inside of us with the world. We’re not an island; we’re the breeze that blows across it. We’re not the sandy beach, we’re the ocean sending waves to its shores. All of humanity is connected; songwriters just have our fingers on the pulse.
If one could envision themselves, as a songwriter, fleeing to an island, becoming an island, what sort of life are you living? No one but the rats and the parrots to hear your music. No one at all to write for. And what would you write about? The point here is that, for songwriters out there looking to land smash hits on today’s hit country radio, the idea is to go in reverse when you feel yourself shrinking from the world.
A lot of people out there, due to a lot of life’s many issues, will shrink up inside themselves and withdraw from social life in many respects. They’ll retreat into closed quarters and shut themselves off from living. Songwriters need to go in reverse, go the other way. We need to take all of those things that make other people feel disconnected and get them out to the world. That’s what makes the best stories. And, with any luck, those people who feel disconnected and alone will hear our music and realize that they’re not alone. They will realize that they’re not the only ones suffering. They will realize that they’re indeed not an island.
Finding Your Island of Angels
In country music songwriter Ben Krahne’s excellent song Island of Angels, he describes a paradise to which he can go to leave all his troubles and pain behind. What a lot of songwriters don’t realize, because they’re trying to land smash radio country hits, is that you’re not always writing songs just in hopes that a publisher or famous artist will love a new party anthem for summer. Some of the best songwriting ever done in the history of any music, especially country music, is songwriting that touches on the human spirit.
As people, all people, we all deal with loneliness and pain. How did you deal with this when you were younger? Many people escaped into their writing, such as diary entrees, keeping tabs on their life by venting out onto a page what remained bottled up inside of them. Songwriters do this same thing, though most are distracted from doing such when trying to find the “perfect” hook or the right turn of phrase to attract others. Sometimes, however, you just have to give in and go visit that island of angels in your mind, and let a song develop straight from your soul.
Fitting enough, we’re all experiencing this experiment of humanity together. While writing about your personal island of angels, your personal troubles and pain, you’re actually connecting with the world and proving that no man is an island, particularly a songwriter.