I have written this note at the top of more than one draft ("Okay Okay" among the new songs, "Candy" among older ones). The trouble is that the Old 97s have the ability to write songs that seem familiar on the first listen. And songwriting, regardless of genre, often feels as though I'm trying to recall something I've heard distantly—less I Am a Camera than I Am an Imperfect Radio. So when I work in a form that's supposed to feel like a pair of broken-in jeans, and there's a clear point of reference, I start to get nervous about how much I'm actually writing myself, and how much I'm straight-up lifting from others: whether it feels familiar because I'm working well in the genre, or because it is familiar.
At such times it's useful to remember that I have a bandmate with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of rock and pop. If I can finish the thing, I trust Charlie will let me know if it veers too close to any existing song.
I guess the anxiety of influence is the unintentional theme of the week. Perhaps I should not ever pretend that I have any idea what I'm doing.