My son is learning guitar.
He’s six, but he’s having a good go at Back In Back, Sunshine Of Your Love and Behind Blue Eyes. When his lessons are over I step in and have a try at what he’s learned, which gives me a clear idea of each and every note that goes into Seven Nation Army or Come As You Are.
That’s a fascinating process and makes me really aware of how every song that feels as if it just rolled naturally into position is actually the result of a deliberate creative process. Even if it just happened via a spontaneous jam session, the decisions were made to place each note in a particular order and keep them there, and if you multiply every note by every length, pitch, volume and instrument you understand that the intro to Hey Joe or the riff from Heartbreaker survived a mind-boggling range of alternatives.
As a writer I’m fully aware that every word I write has been selected from 171,476 possibilities (and any number of neologisms) and could be anything: gerund, goitre, ocular, cattle, marmalade, calamity, oleaginous, fester, smile, nimrod, piece, serendipity, Africa etc., which again means that the existence of something like Catch-22 is verging on the miraculous.
I guess this is one of the reasons why we marvel at the creative process and deify those responsible for its successful outcome: it’s like herding infinity.