“I decided to make a mixtape of the songs that inspired me to write music. It is always good to return to the reason you started something, especially if you find yourself lost in the middle or far from the start and you need to anchor back to where you began. It’s like going home to reground, rejuvenate, and revitalize! Luckily music is a portable home on our phones these days so I can always dive back in whenever I need to. I hope you enjoy my Mixtape!” — Lily Kershaw
Simon & Garfunkel – “The Sound of Silence”
I chose this song to begin with because it was the first song I heard that made me want to write music. I remember the first time I heard it the world felt like it stopped and an immediate desire to create a song arose in me.
Joni Mitchell – “Cactus Tree”
I’ve been listening to Joni since I was a kid, and this song of her’s in particular made me want to write. I love that she is talking about a woman who would be deemed as “complicated” just because of her desire to be untethered and free, but Joni made her seem so alive and well and glamorous. I remember wanting to be like the woman she sang of.
“He can think her there beside him
He can miss her just the same”
How brilliant is that lyric?!
Leonard Cohen – “Chelsea Hotel #2”
I have covered this song at the majority of shows I’ve ever played live. Cohen wrote this about Janis Joplin. These particular lyrics break my heart:
“Ah but you got away didn’t you babe
You just turned your back on the crowd
You got away I never once heard you say
I need you, I don’t need you”
Crosby, Stills & Nash – “Helplessly Hoping”
I went through a very dark season in my life and the first thing I would do when I woke up in the morning during that time was listen to this song. It would make me feel better even if only for a fleeting moment. I always hope that the music I write can bring comfort to anyone who needs it.
Bob Dylan – “A Simple Twist of Fate”
“People tell me it’s a sin
To know and feel too much within”
I deeply relate to these lyrics.
Joan Baez – “Diamonds And Rust”
Joan actually wrote this song about Bob Dylan. The poetry is next level!
“Well you burst on the scene already a legend
the unwashed phenomenon
The original vagabond
You strayed into my arms
And there you stayed temporarily lost at sea
The Madonna was yours for free
Yes the girl on the half shelf could keep you unharmed”
Cat Stevens – “The Wind”
This song always re-grounds me and connects me back to my heart and my goal to write music and tell stories from my heart.
Elliott Smith – “Between the Bars”
This is another song I love to cover live and have done so often. I love and relate to this passage of lyrics in particular:
“People you’ve been before that you don’t want around anymore
That push and shove and won’t bend to your will
I’ll keep them still”
Nico – “These Days”
I love a woman simply speaking about where she is at in that moment of her life. It is honest, poetic, simple, and profound.
“I’ve been out walking
I don’t do too much talking these days
These days I seem to think a lot
about the things I forgot to do”
Sufjan Stevens – “Chicago”
This song brings me life. I feel so many things when I listen to this song. It definitely connects me back to my heart and to the place in me that wants to write music.
Now comes the part of my mixtape that is solely a Simon & Garfunkel appreciation section. Here are some of the lyrics that have most inspired me to write!
Simon & Garfunkel – “The Boxer”
“I am leaving I am leaving
but the fighter still remains”
Simon & Garfunkel – “The Dangling Conversation”
“In the dangling conversation
and the superficial sighs
The borders of our lives
And you read your Emily Dickinson
and I my Robert Frost
and we note our place with book markers
that measure what we’ve lost”
Simon & Garfunkel – “The Only Living Boy in New York”
“Half of the time we’re gone
but we don’t know where
And we don’t know where”
Now these next two songs are ones I have written. They show the side of what the inspiration from the songs thus far have lead me to create!
Lily Kershaw – “Now & Then”
This is a simple honest folk song about the complicated nature of love and how it changes over time.
“Remember the rooftop parties
Remember the friends
Remember the way I love you now
and the way that I loved you then”
Lily Kershaw – “Darker Things”
This is another of my more acoustic, stripped songs. In it I worry about someone I love very much and how they are hurting and in return hurting themself.
“And you say you hate the way your
mind makes you feel about
all the darker things in your life
I feel you now
I can feel you”
I hope you have enjoyed my mixtape of the songs that inspired me to write music!
Photo credit: Lindsey Byrnes