You Had Time

I’ve always been fascinated by the process more than the outcome.
A roundtrip’s destination is never as fun as the journey there.

I think that’s part of the reason I got into design as the journey to the final pieces—the exploration—is really the most illuminating part. Along the way there are hundreds of tiny little decisions that twist and contort the project. Each direction that’s taken could conceivably change the entire work drastically (The Sound of Thunder of the visual arts world). And when you pull your head up from your desk at 4am, hours before the project is to be shipped to the printer, you look at the final piece as the culmination of these infinite decisions. The creativity doesn’t lie in the product, but rather the journey.

If you haven’t yet listened to Ani DiFranco’s You Had Time, of her Out of Range LP. you should give it a listen. Yes, in the tradition of most of her songs, it has brilliant lyrics (“You are a china shop and I am a bull. You are really good food, but I am full“). But the key to the song is that you can actually hear her journey to the final piece. I’m not saying that the first half of the song was created ad lib, but she recreated her exploration of the song quite well. It sounds as if she sat down at the piano consumed by an emotion and let her fingers speak what she was feeling. The seemingly arbitrary note chimes give way to pattern. The pattern evokes a melody. The left hand joins to form an at-first, clunky harmony which gradually fuses perfectly with the right. And when she’s finally found it, the song begins.

And maybe it’s a good song. I honestly haven’t thought much about it to decide one way or the other. But Ani’s decision to share her exploration of the song’s growth and crafting are really what make it something quite unique.

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