Jack of Diamonds is an old song, but it’s one of the first songs I wrote that I was really proud of. I don’t remember much about the process or the story but I do remember that it was written in basically one sitting in 2006. Maybe it was less that I wrote it and more likely that I caught it.
There’s a great interview that author Liz Gilbert did on Tom Waits (who is at the top of my musical heroes list) where he talked about songwriting, creativity and the idea that sometimes, you have to grab onto a song as it’s passing by.
“There are songs that are like scared birds that you have to sneak up on over the course of months in the woods.”
LG: “He was caught in traffic. He had one song, and he talks about songs that you have to bully and songs that are like dreams through a straw, and then this one: He said that there are songs that don’t want to exist, and you have to let them go, and you have to let them not haunt you — which is another way to not become insane as an artist.
And he was driving down the freeway one day in Los Angeles, and he heard a little tiny trace of a beautiful melody, and he panicked because he didn’t have his waterproof paper, and he didn’t have his tape recorder, and he didn’t have a pen, he didn’t have a pencil — he had no way to get it.
And he thought, “How am I going to catch this song?” And he started to have all that old panic and anxiety that artists have about feeling like you’re going to miss something, and then he just slowed down and he looked up at the sky, and he looked up and he said, “Excuse me, can you not see that I’m driving? If you’re serious about wanting to exist, come back and see me in the studio. I spend six hours a day there, you know where to find me, at my piano. Otherwise, go bother somebody else. Go bother Leonard Cohen.””