Singer and songwriter Paul Simon typically spends lots of time writing his melodies and lyrics. But he created the melody and first two verses for his most acclaimed song — “Bride Over Troubled Water” — in less than three hours.
“There’s no answer to the question of whether a song preexists in your brain or whether it’s somewhere out there in the universe, waiting to be born,” Simon told his biographer, Robert Hilburn. “That’s all part of the mystery of creativity.”
Yep, creativity is definitely mysterious — but it can often be ignited by certain non-mysterious habits. For example, just before Simon sat down to write “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” he had been listening to a song by the Swan Silvertones, a gospel group.
At one point in the song, the lead singer injects the line, “I’ll be a bridge over deep water, if you trust in my name.”
“The line doesn’t stand out in the clamor of the record,” writes Hilburn. “You have to be paying attention to even catch it. Simon was paying attention.”
Paying attention. Now there’s a golden key to creativity. Because when we pay attention to the world around us, we get insights. And those insights frequently lead us to creativity and ideas.
And that’s when, as Paul Simon says in another song, “your time has come to shine.”
© 2019 Sam Harrison. All rights reserved.