Part memoir, part look into the healing power of songwriting... author and performing songwriter Mary Gauthier's book Saved by a Song : The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting potently delivers a heartwarming display on how songwriting can soothe the wounds of the creator and listener.
I particularly like following Mary's journey from discovering songwriting as a means to communicate about her own traumas to the honorable service of songwriting with veterans to help them give a voice to their own story. Through recalling her troubled past as an adopted child and her struggles with substance abuse, without oversweetening but far from minimizing, Mary describes her creation of songs and lyrics as a therapeutic force in her life .
“Witnessing other people’s lives through stories is a kind of medicine, and the magic is getting the story emotionally honest.” - Mary Gauthier
This has been a uniquely meaningful book for me to read. It does not exactly lay out the nuts and bolts of how to write a song. In other words, this book is not for songwriting techniques, chord progressions, melodic notation, verse/chorus formats and such…which is fine, there's plenty of other books for that and Saved By A Song's honest approach is what makes this personal story of songwriting so valuable. In the book, she is basing her songwriting on the emotional landscape of expression, the motivation there is more inspiring then reliant on rigid templates, it’s the source to say what needs to be said through song. Mary reminds us that her collegue Ralph Murphy said “It’s not your job to sing the listeners your diary. Your job is to sing to the listeners theirs.”
The book is for songwriters and artists of all kinds, therapists and even mental health professionals. Mary's book helps one understand that one can be saved by a song but also that the world can be changed by a song. Saved By a Song is a heartwarming story, an easily comprehensible philosophy on why songwriting is important, and a solid source of inspiration.
“artists are like firemen; when the rest of the world is running away from the explosion, they run to it and report back...
The ask is this: no matter how many songs you’ve written - each time, the struggle is to get back to that singular place where it is just you and the fire alone in the room.”
- Mary Gauthier