When I'm singing 'Deanna,' for example, which I sing pretty much every night, it brings forward a kind of imagined, romanticized lie about this particular person, which I find really comforting and exciting to sing about.
The big problem with songwriting for me is starting a new song. It's the thing where all the anguish exists, not in the writing of the song, but the starting of the new song. What do I write about? I never know.
I write a lot, and very often I write a couple of lines that are particularly revealing in some kind of way. And then as a few more lines get added and a piece gets added, eventually the song pretty much takes over and you can't really find a way to change those things.
At some point you start seeing the difference between what you really want, and what is your priority order. I feel that today I know what I want. That's the problem with perspective, as well as focus and concentration.
The idea of songwriting is a transformative thing, and what I do with songwriting is take situations that are quite ordinary and transform them in some way. Apart from things like the murder ballads, the songs I write, at their core, are quite ordinary human concerns, but the process of writing about them transforms them into something else.
After a while, you just don't do things you don't wanna do - that's the great freedom you get, the older you get. You learn what to do and what not to do, and what will be a waste of time and what won't be a waste of time.
The work ethic at art school is completely different than the work ethic amongst people who get into music. People who paint, it's an honorable thing to spend all day and all night in front of your canvas - that is the romantic vision of the painter.
I lost my innocence with Johnny Cash. I used to watch the 'Johnny Cash Show' on television in Wangaratta when I was about 9 or 10 years old. At that stage I had really no idea about rock n' roll. I watched him, and from that point I saw that music could be an evil thing - a beautiful, evil thing.