Finished artworks are wonderful, but I’m a great admirer of the sketch. Show me the construction lines, the mistakes, the smudges and fingerprints. Sketches often display an energy that is beaten out of the finished work.
The same is true for music, which is why I love demos and bootlegs so much. Even if a band has played a song 10,000 times, this moment when they’re playing it is an act of creation, a sketch vibrating in the air. (Even better than a bootleg, of course, is to get off your ass and go see that band whip the air into a song in real time.)
And it can be true for writing, too. While story drafts sometimes are painful to read, with their grammatical errors and structural difficulties, sometimes they are fun to read for those same reasons. The writer’s fingerprints are revealed to the reader, so to speak. It’s a pretty intimate kind of writing to share.
I’ve posted quite a few drafts on this site–some out of desperation to make deadline, others specifically to share the writing process. A few days ago I accidentally shared a short story while it was still in progress. This was purely user error: I hit “publish” rather than the “save” button.
My initial reaction was to recall the hideous beast until I could make it look a bit more human, but then I decided to just leave it out there. Why not let people see my construction lines and erasures? I can finish it another day, but for now you and I are reading the same sloppy doodle. Pretty cool, huh?
Anyway, songs about sketches:
“Flamenco Sketches,” Miles Davis.
“Sketch Pad With Trumpet and Voice,” Peter Gabriel.
“Drawn In the Dark,” X.
“(Drawing) Rings Around the World,” Super Furry Animals.
“Painting A Picture,” Alice Cooper.
“Paint A Vulgar Picture,” The Smiths.
“Painted From Memory,” Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach.
“Portrait of Tracy,” Jaco Pastorius.
There you have it: Eight finished songs about unfinished business. What did I miss? I’m listening.
Categories: Deep Cuts