“I try in the first line of a song to say something that is true. Not an emotional truth but a fact. You are less likely to get mired in cliches if you start off with some statement of truth.” — Paul Simon
If I never reach the critical and commercial heights of Paul Simon (and I think your bets are safe on that score), I can at least say I nailed his advice on one of my newest songs. And, really, was it ever more important to avoid cliches than when dealing with matters of the heart?
It all started with an email I get called The Daily Atom that always contains a short, simple fact from the world of science. On one recent day, the email began, "The human heart weighs less than 1 pound." There, my friends, is a solid and song-worthy statement of truth that even "Rhymin' Simon" could get behind, I suspect.
The email was comforting in its strangely scientific way, arriving in my inbox just a couple weeks after the death of my mother. Hearts were heavy among her loved ones, of course, and on our minds: She died of complications from congestive heart failure. It didn't take long before the words started to form that blended fact and feeling: "The human heart weighs less than a pound, which is strange for all it contains. Love must be light in the place where it's found—yeah, love must be light right where it's found..."
It goes on, as love does, and—cliche alert!—it did my heart some good to keep writing. I hope it does for you, too, as you listen. The result is here.