Music I Wish I Had Written

Have you ever loved something so much that you wish you had created it?  It sounds, on the surface, like a very strange thing.  Are we not lazy Americans?!  Is it not better to have someone else do the work, and then to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor?  What is is about loving something so hard that makes somebody wish that it was only theirs?  Is that what marriage is about?  Is that what religious fighting is about?  Is it just that we are longing for a more personal connection to the object of our affection, or is it ego and greed?  Or I am the only one who ever wishes they had written their favorite songs?

Part of it goes along with that classic and completely rational fear of being sucked into a wormhole and becoming trapped in the past.  I have no skills!  I would never make it in the past!  Well, except for musical skills.  This would not help me if were being chased through the jungle by velociraptors, but if I were to find myself among other humans, the easiest way for me to survive would probably be to “write” some music that had not quite been written yet, and pass it off as my own.  You do have to be careful, though.  As we learned from “Back to the Future,” some time periods are just not ready for certain types of music.

So I’m not going to show up in the court of Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II and perform “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”  No, I’m going to “write” Die Zauberflöte.  And what’s more, I’m going to take out the boring parts!  You can bet that those trials will go by more quickly, and have a more comedic zing to them!  So wherever I end up in time, I will have at my disposal a large category of musical knowledge from which to preemptively steal.

But this, I suppose, really is different from my original question.  I do enjoy Die Zauberflöte, but I don’t longingly wish to have written it every time I hear it.  Not the way I do with Jesus Christ Superstar.  Man.  Now that is a show.  If I could go back in time and write that show, and be there for the rehearsals, and see the looks on everyone’s faces as they experience the awesomeness for the first time, well that would just about be the best thing ever.  I suppose I could write my own show, and I have started one, but I will never love anything I create the way that I love Superstar.  I’m too self-critical.

There are tons of shows I wish I had written, actually.  When I really love a show, I often wish I could go back in time and write it.  From Avenue Q to The Mikado, it’s probably a good thing that I don’t have a time machine, or else I would be going back all the time to snipe composers with their own compositions.  That would not be very nice of me.  Although, using Scotty’s logic from Star Trek IV, how do we know that I don’t get sucked into a wormhole in the future and then go back and time and write all of this music?!  There is simply no way to ever be sure.

And then there are the individual songs.  “Jenny” by Flight of the Conchords.  This song is brilliant.  It is long, and complicated in an easy way.  It is not on any of their albums, and it is my favorite song of theirs by far.  I just think it is so brilliant.  It is the kind of song I wish I could write.  In fact, I wish I had had the idea first, because it’s the kind of song I think I could have written, unlike Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, which I wish I would have written, but know that I never could have.

“Experimental Film” by They Might Be Giants.  As soon as I heard it for the first time, I imagined what a brilliant opening for a musical it would be, with television monitors peppering the stage, and cast members running through the aisles holding video cameras, putting the audience on the stage as part of an experimental film.  Genius!  Except, now I couldn’t do that, because someone else already wrote the perfect song to do that with.  Curses!  Oh, how I wish I could go back in time and write that song first, before the Johns had ever thought of the idea!

“Your Song,” by Elton John.  “You’re My Home,” by Billy Joel.  “If My Heart Was a House,” by Owl City.  Love songs that just touch me, and I wish I could write them for my wife, so that she could see just how I feel about her.  It’s not fair!  Why are other people better at saying what I feel than I am?!  I should have been the one to write “God Only Knows,” by the Beach Boys!  Why aren’t I Brian Wilson?!

“White Christmas,” by Bing Crosby.  But only because it is the best selling song of all time, with over 50 million copies sold.  That one is solely greed-based.

So again, the question.  Am I the only one who longs to have written their favorite music?  Is there some sort of psychological reasoning behind it?  (Yes.  There is some sort of weird psychological reasoning behind everything…)  And, most importantly, why are there not more wormhole warning signs around here?!  This is a real danger, people!  Open your eyes!

Posted in Back to the Future, Beach Boys, Billy Joel, Die Zauberflöte, Elton John, Flight of the Conchords, Gilbert & Sullivan, Jesus Christ Superstar, Mozart, Music, Opera, Star Trek, Tenor Tuesday, They Might Be Giants.


  1. I agree about feeling that way about novels.

    Adam – What if you DID write some of these and someone went back in time and sniped your work?

  2. I totally feel this way. In fact, I used to make mixed CDs called “Songs I Wish I Had Written.” I had at least two or three volumes.

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