Find a photo, write a song: Musicians take inspiration from random pictures

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Who’s that girl?

Found photos of strangers doing strange things will inspire songwriters to take a new perspective at an upcoming thrift shop-fueled musical showcase in Prospect Heights.

Among stacks of secondhand shop photographs that did nothing to spark her creativity, host Elisa Flynn picked up an evocative and weird picture of a woman in the woods balancing a tuft of moss on her wild, orange hair.

That image motivated her to write a song — and she hopes similar shots will do the same for other musicians.

“I found one with a Model T and two kids standing front of a shack. I had no ideas,” said Flynn who will present her inspired tune at the next edition of Flynn’s quarterly Americana showcase at the Way Station. “But for some reason, the woman with the moss on her head did it for me.”

Flynn embodies the goofy woman through song.

“She’s lost in the woods and she wants to stay there,” Flynn said of the character she conjured from the single picture.

Another songwriter, guitarist Sarah Bisman will sing from the perspective of a woman posing for a professional portrait.

“The song is still in process, but at present imagines her life at the moment she sits for the photo, and why,” said Bisman.

She said she participates in Flynn’s shows because such challenges actually help her develop her songwriting skills.

“I’m pretty new to songwriting, so it’s fun to get external guidelines like this and to see what I’m able to come up with,” said Bisman.

This is the third showcase Flynn has curated at the nerdy bar that regularly features Dr. Who and Star Wars-based events.

For the first one, she asked musicians to cover songs from Harry Smith’s legendary “Anthology of American Folk Music.” For the second, she had them cover old crime-inspired songs called murder ballads — with added lyrics and musical takes on the originals.

“I had people pick a classic murder ballad and then write a whole new version with new verses and new music,” she said. “So many murder ballads have been done over and over again for more than 100 years.”

Flynn has not decided what the next installment of the series will be, but she said each one will have musicians delve into another aspect of Americana.

“It’s something I’m very interested in in terms of music and style and artwork,” said Flynn.

All I Want Is A Photograph at the Way Station [683 Washington Ave. between St. Marks Avenue and Prospect Place in Prospect Heights, (347) 627–4949,]. April 16, 7 pm, free.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
Updated 10:09 pm, July 9, 2018
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