I’m getting ready to head to Oakland in a few days to finish a song with Greg.
Today, I remembered a moment that I am grateful for, a moment that made me appreciate what making music is about to me. I was reminded of my last recording sessions with Greg in March. I had been staying with some friends in El Cerrito. One morning on my way to the studio, I stopped at a cafe for a very tasty espresso drink and some oatmeal. When I arrived at the studio (a little behind schedule), Greg had already been working on some new ideas. I remember walking in with my oatmeal and hearing a really awesome synth lead idea that he had written. I don’t know why, but this moment was special to me. I felt like I was in my element. I think maybe a few factors played into it. a) I love the bay and it was a beautiful spring morning. I was so happy to be back up north. I really liked the cafe I stopped at, and I was just enjoying myself. b) It felt really good to have someone appear invested in my song. Maybe this is just an ego thing, but to walk into the studio where your engineer is already drumming up ideas… tremendously cool for me. Small detail for sure, but cool. c) The third element I can think of is that I was feeling improved as a songwriter and I was really excited about this new song. I felt that I was tapping into a space I hadn’t been before and that was really great to wake up and continue working on a tune so full of mystery and excitement.
That was over two months ago. As of now, I am less excited about the song, and less excited about my music in general. But I am trying to remember the things I love about writing and producing. I guess my feeling is that I wish I didn’t book these upcoming sessions in the first place. It will be fun to finish the song, but I’m not racing to release it. I also feel like I’m in a groove down here, and I hate taking work off and stressing about money and driving seven hours north. Once I’m there, I’ll be fine. But I’m stressed a bit right now. As far as the diminished enthusiasm about my music, I think I’ve just been exploring a lot of different music lately. In doing so, I’m realizing that I’ve never once written anything even close to innovative. As the reader, this all may appear quite negative. It’s not. I honestly feel really good about where I’m at. I’m just growing a lot in my understanding of myself and also really learning how to appreciate music that’s out of my comfort zone. So much so, that it’s throwing me off. It’s affecting how I look at my own music.
If someone asked me to describe this song I’m working on, I would just say it was really generic. An easy listening, semi-catchy acoustic tune reminiscent of Mac DeMarco, Elliot Smith, John Mayer, etc. WHO NEEDS ANOTHER SONG LIKE THAT? TELL ME WHO! nobody. (BTW I’m not implying that my music even comes close to those artists, I’m saying that it feels ripped off of those artists.). But I’m not upset about this at all. No I’m serious. I love writing and I love this song too. I just see my music for what it really is a little more clearly these days and it’s hard for me to be proud of the actual finished material. What I’m proud of is that I continue to grow and learn and write. I’m proud of who I am as a musician and writer, but also aware of where I am. I’m proud of my commitment to the process. I’m not proud of the music per se. That would be ridiculous.
Someday, many years from now. Many thousands of hours of writing and playing and practicing from now. Someday, after so much hard work. Someday, after consuming 100x the amount of music I have already taken in. In the far future, I will someday maybe release a body of work that is actually innovative and interesting. I will make music solely because I love music. I will write something that isn’t inspired by traditional top 40 pop.
Until then, I will continue to practice guitar. I will continue to drive to Oakland and write and produce with Greg. I will continue to work. I will possibly get a degree. I will possibly move to Berlin. For now, I’m staying humble and focused. Away from social media, aware of my ego, enjoying the small things and being present. I love being able to log on here and just rant. If you read this whole thing, you deserve a cookie.