Practicing Solving Puzzles: A Conversation with Songwriter Taylor Carson

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 4.05.16 PMPhoto by Kasey Kirby

“You need to talk with Taylor!” sang my friend Jenn. “He would have such great thoughts to share. Let me get in touch with him!” This was exactly the kind of new connection I had hoped for in building this project and taking it on the road. Jenn is an active supporter of the live music scene in and around Washington D.C. and knew Taylor Carson and his music well; I was brand new to his work although he’s been at it for over ten years. After Jenn’s introduction via email, we decided to meet the next afternoon and had a great conversation about this concept of practice and what it means to him.

In this interview, Taylor reflects on his development as a musician, how his songwriting relates to his life, and the ways that we practice when we don’t even realize that we are.

[5:28] “…nothing that is worthwhile is ever forced for me. You know, I aim for certain things in my career, like you don’t even realize that whole time you want it to happen, you want it to happen but you’re also working towards it, you’re working ON it. And so it might not happen when you want it to, but when it does happen, you’re like ‘Oh, I get it’ because the whole time I was working on this, and whatever made it happen now is making it happen now, but I’m prepared. Because that whole time you’re… you’re practicing. You’re not even realizing you’re practicing. I think that, like I said, you can’t sit down and write a song and so that practice happens, I think it happens when you don’t even mean to practice. I think it’s really just all organic for me.”

Listen in to our conversation below, I know you’ll enjoy Taylor’s perspective.

Among the many pieces of our conversation that left me thinking, was an exchange where Taylor shared how his songwriting is just one piece of him (at 13:05), although a very important one.

Taylor’s perspective raises some important questions about how we assign, or don’t assign, our identity as practitioners, as well as how we cope with the receipt of any finished product of our practice – like a song, a piece of art or a piece of writing. As he says, “I’m thankful it’s [songwriting] not all of me.”

As a practitioner, do you identify who you are with what you do? 

Is your practice a part of your Self, or is it simply a way to interact with or understand the world around you? 

Is exchange (with an audience, with students or readers) a part of your practice, or is it separate from it? How does the exchange impact how you feel about the practice? 

Share YOUR thoughts and reflections in the comments below. I’d love to know your perspective.

Find Taylor’s latest album, With Innocence, on iTunes.
Songs featured in this recording:
Smile at the World
Home (Over and Above)
Chain Reaction

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