JEFF SHATTUCK MUSIC

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• Has talk therapy made me a better songwriter or is it the drugs or has my brain just been re-arranged, with an interesting side-effect?

Since perforating my cranial membrane with a sliver of skull driven forward by me falling backward into a tile wall, I have definitely gotten better at writing songs. I suppose the reason could be a new neural connection or two, or maybe a broken one, but I think something more is at work.

Specifically, I think the treatment I've been undergoing for depression has been helpful. The treatment was initiated at the insistence of my neurologist, who warned me that life altering injuries could paint the world pretty black, and suggested a two-pronged attack: drugs and talk therapy.

The drugs you've all heard of. I started with Lexapro, liked it, but switched to Cymbalta on the theory that its unique concoction of Prozac-like stuff with old school Stepford Wives-based stuff would help with the extreme "coldness" I "feel" in my feet (they're not really cold, but...). Anyway, my feet still wade happily in their ever present bath of ice water, so Cymbalta has failed me in one respect, but it seems to help in the other, buoying my mood, about as well as Lexapro did, so I continue to use it.

As for songwriting, I think Cymbalta helps because it keeps me from getting so down that I lose my motivation to, say, rewrite that verse for the 37th time. But that's about it. Oh, and maybe by keeping me in a less tense state, it frees my thoughts to flow. Not sure.

Now, talk therapy is a different beast altogether, but one I have grown to value immensely. My therapist is my brain mechanic. I describe what's going on inside my head, and she offers ideas for what to do about it. And you know what? All this talk leads to tons of little conclusions, some of which are the grains of sand that become songs (sorry for the cheesy metaphor, but it's true). In other words, its great creative fodder. Further, it is fodder that can be refined over time, sifted through, added to, subtracted from.

Most important, if songs are crystallized emotions, which I think they are, knowing my emotions, knowing what's behind them, or, failing that, simply "digging in the dirt", to quote Peter Gabriel is a fabulous way to identify which emotions I want to try to crystallize.

Last, talk therapy has even lead to a song about, you guessed it, talk therapy called Talking. Here are the lyrics. Music to follow in the next few weeks.

Talking

I start with yesterday
Then my childhood
Then school and my career

And there's so much to say
And it feels kind of good
As I work through hopes and fears

And there's relationships
And being alone
And being a person I wouldn't want to know

And Freudian slips
And feeling like stone
And feeling like so much is still unknown

CHORUS
And I'm talking, and I'm talking, but I've got more to say
And I'm talking, and talking, I could sit here and talk all day
And I'm trying, I'm trying to clear up shades of gray
And do my best to make a little sense
Of life's mysterious ways


And there's talk of love
Talk of hate
Talk of everything I can feel

There's hawks and doves
Choice and fate
Things I hide and things I reveal

And I talk about the night
I talk about the dreams
I talk about the things that are not as they seem

The lyrics I write
The songs I sing
The feel of a brand new wedding ring

And I'm talking, and talking, but I've still got more to say
I'm talking, and talking, don't stop me if I start to stray
'Cause I'm trying, and trying but there's just too much to convey
Still I do my best to make a little sense
Of life's mysterious ways

And I talk about mom
I talk about dad
I talk about the things that make me happy and sad

And there are words of wisdom
And words I need to learn
And more than a few pages turned

And I'm talking, and talking, but I've still got more to say
I'm talking, and talking, I could talk the entire day
'Cause I'm trying, but I worry that I'm starting to stray
Still I do my best to make a little sense
Of life's mysterious ways