Episode 8 of the excellent Sodajerker podcast features an interview with Andy Partridge of XTC. Aside from being quite entertaining, the episode includes a number of wonderful insights from Partridge about songwriting, composition, inspiration, and music in general.
All sensual input goes into the songs, whether it’s you see a color you like or, you know, you read a book you like or you hear something and you think “Yeah! That’s inspirational!” or you see a painting. I think all sensory input goes through and you mangle it all up and you kind of make a copy of it and you slap all this stuff together and it goes out through your own guts. And then when you shit your song out, you’ve got one of those kind of play-dough, star-shaped things up your ass and your shit’s shaped like you. But it’s actually made from all this other shit by other people.
What I’m trying to say is there’s probably no such thing as originality. What you do is you just take all your sensory inputs from everywhere, crap it all out through your own play-dough shape, and that becomes your personality. You’re translating.
On theory [after playing several chords from “Senses Working Overtime”]:
No idea what the chords are, don’t ask me. That’s not of interest, you know? It’s not needed. You don’t need to know the guts of music to make music.