As a songwriter, it’s never been my purpose to discuss or write about what my songs mean or the motivations behind writing them. The reason for that is because I have always felt that it’s better to leave interpretation up to the listener so that they can derive from the song what they want and to determine what it means to them. Recently though, I have had a lot of people asking about how I came up with the Johnny Depp Song from my second record, Trip To Horizon. I’m not sure why this song has gotten more attention than any other song on the record, other than it does mention the famous actor and some of his movies by name.
Instead of simply talking about how the my Johnny Depp Song came about, I thought I would start with sharing a bit of how the song-writing process works for me. Every songwriter has a different take on how to create, but at the end of the day, it’s the journey the artist goes through that really counts. Sometimes a song may develop through a lyric idea or an isolated thing that you see or hear, even a single word or title idea can spark the beginning of a song. Who knows, maybe Paul McCartney heard someone say “Hey, Jude!” and instantly thought of a song title. Other writers find a particular chord progression or a simple riff that sets them off. Keith Richards for example, woke up one night with the main guitar part of “Satisfaction” in his head and he was off and running to write this classic Rolling Stones song.
For me, songwriting is all about telling stories that when the listener hears it, the song means something to them. That’s why it usually starts with trying to tell a story that means something to me. In the case of the Johnny Depp Song, I had been watching an interview with director Wes Craven, who while discussing his movie A Nightmare on Elm Street, said it wasn’t until after Johnny Depp auditioned that his daughter saw the actor’s head shot and thought he was perfect for the role. As an artist who has spent a lot of time in Hollywood as a musician and actress (and dealing with LOTS of rejection), I found it very funny that it was the picture that was so important.
I’m very influenced by writers like Warren Zevon and Joan Didion who can look at a subject and always find a unique, funny way of bringing it to light. So, having spent my time in the trenches of Hollywood, (and hopefully channeling my best Zevon and Didion), the Johnny Depp Song came about as a tongue in cheek point of view on the whole ‘Hollywood thing’. Hopefully this article helps clarify some of the questions I have been receiving about the process I went through when writing my Johnny Depp song.