Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Dizziness of Enforced Solitude

A couple nights ago I randomly thought of an old NYC-era tune of mine that I honestly haven't thought of since. It just kinda sprang back into my mind from nowhere and for no particular reason that I can determine. Sort of analogous to that unexpected visit by an old high school friend, I suppose.

"Hey! Long time no see. Was in the area, thought I'd see if you were still around!"


Progress on this particular song has been minimal at best. However it *did* inspire me to start looking back at older projects. In particular I've been sorting through the stuff - samples, ideas, crazy sounds, etc - that I've storing on this computer since mid 2006.

There's a bunch of stuff on here that I... I can see myself doing some really wacky and awesome things with. Sampling the dishwasher, bowing and striking the disk platter, recording traffic sounds, sampling this and that, digitally messing with said sounds... (Sadly I still have to retrieve some of the sampling I had archived from before my Mac died.)

I just have to figure out _how_. *sighs* I really need to sit down and tackle more of that.

But that brings me to an... interesting juncture in my career right now. I've really been trying to focus on the singer-songwriter stuff and neglecting my more experimental-ish side. I've been drowning myself in my pop-centric tunes in the goal of getting out and playing more.

It's... I want to say it's a necessary evil. But I can't convince myself of that. Part of me is asking myself, "was that the shark we just jumped?" I don't consider most of my stuff _pure_ pop - there's a lot of stuff I throw in that kinda moves it a bit away.

However there is *still* that nagging voice. I mean the pop is a LOT easier to write. I don't have to think anywhere near as much. I don't have to second-guess myself as often...

But... yeah.

I'm still at a loss for lyrics, though. I find the more I work with words, the more I hate them. Or rather I hate my inability to really pull some awesome shit outta them. :/

I've got a good half-dozen songs on the burners right now - all with incomplete lyrics. Phrases, verses, choruses, a bridge here, a prechorus there... I'm beating my head against walls to flesh them out further. And all I'm getting is bloody plaster.

At least both "Cold" and "(I've got a boy) Stuck In My Head" are relatively complete. The latter just needs some more work on the arrangement. The drums are still missing elements and the verses need some more padding/layers. "Don't You See" is also pretty far along. Again, lyrics are missing, I need some more instrumentation, and the drums/percussion need attending to.

Still, that's three songs/demos moderately far along. Yay!

I also got inspired and picked up an older song. Someone forwarded me an article about John Mayer trying to apologize for using the "n" word. The irony? That, upon reading it, that's probably the least of the WTF-isms. I mean, "my dick is a white supremacist"?!?!?


Well, let's hop, skip, and a jump back a few years. I think it was 2006 - *maybe* 2007. His song, "Waiting On the World to Change" was... somewhere on the charts. I don't remember where. He really wasn't anywhere on my list of things to listen to.

But then, in a fit of fury, a friend pointed out the song to me - focusing on the lyric content. "It's hard to beat the system/When we're standing at a distance/So we keep waiting/Waiting on the world to change" And of course I immediately shared his anger.

As someone in a marginalized community, this really affronted my sense of decency. As someone who faces daily a dozen battles - both internal and external - just for being on this side of a political hotbed, it appalls my sense of responsibility. It reeks of apathy, laziness, and selfishness at best - white privilege and a slushy slew of -isms at worst.

Almost immediately a counter-song started forming in my mind. "Would YOU just be 'waiting' if you actually had to face some of this shit?" is what I want to scream in his face. "Would you just sit around and hope that life somehow got better for you?"

I'd actually just started toying around with the whole DADGAE[*] tuning then, too. Took one little riff that I'd conjured up already and *whisk* I was off. At least for a little bit. Once again the lyrical barrier sorta sprung up and, while I've never completely put it down, I just... yeah. Have a bit to go.

Somewhat recently a few more lyrics had come to mind. A chorus, "I'm glad that your load is light/So you can bask in your privileged life", has existed for a few months. Tonight I cobbled together a second verse and something of a bridge.

So I sat down and recorded what I have. I need to fix some spots. It's ending much too cynically - something which is contrary to the whole point. It's not that we can't fix life; it's that life ain't gonna just fix itself. Plus the bridge is a tad too jarring right now. (I think I just need to calm down a bit on the emoting!)

  • I hereby declare I will pronounce this DAD-GAY. *nod*

Friday, February 5, 2010

Jammin, 2

In what's likely to become something of a reoccurring phenomenon, June and I returned to the Whitpain Tavern tonight for their open mic. This time, however, we arrived sufficiently early - before it even started, actually - and acquired ourselves an actual slot.


We dithered about what to actually play this time. Neither of us seemed to have realized we'd actually have to *think* about what to play. And, in the end, we kinda cobbled together a couple songs. I'd do "Road" (a bootLICKERS tune I do a fair amount) and my own song, "So Glad..." while June opted for a couple blues jams.

Oh, both of us are quite experienced onstage now. Neither of us got in front of the mic with any timidity or hesitation. So, from that perspective, it was all good.

Musical performance? Well, that was a slightly different barrel.

We grabbed a couple of the other regulars to join in - a bassist and another guitarist. We know them. They know us. We all know that none of us are newbs.

But... well, "Road" isn't exactly the most straightforward song. It's not crazy, but there's a couple oddball chord changes. And I didn't *quite* warn the bassist enough. Luckily he's the sort who just kinda shrugs and barrels on through with a smile.

It's all good. We're all just having fun, after all.

But of course my own tunes are even a bit more oddball. I intentionally write non-standard structures - skipping sections, tossing in a few unexpected chord changes. I don't write the typical verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus sorts of things. Granted I do have my own formula (and can get a bit too entrenched in it) but it's... well it's just not always the easiest to explain before-hand within the span of a minute.

Especially when the lyrics come a thousand words a minute.

I ran over a couple of the chord changes with him a bit more this time. It's fairly easy chord wise. But then the guitarist jumped in and it sorta... just kinda... took off. LOL

Oh, it was a bit of a trainwreck. I skipped sections left and right, dropped out a whole verse and the break... The biggest problem is that we just couldn't hear each other well enough and I couldn't get enough eye contact from the other guys to properly cue somethings.

*shrugs* But I had fun!

Furthermore it was just another sort of step for me - an evolution of (small) sorts. I was up there just kinda letting go and letting one of my babies just sorta... happen. Oh, I was doing my best to keep on top of things. And I think I did _ok_. But...

*shrugs* It was fun. And I wasn't freaking out. At least not much. I was definitely on my toes. Otherwise, however, I'd already settled comfortably into the mindset of, "it will be what it will be."

Oh, I admit it. I've totally been tempted to chart up my tunes on the chance I'd wind up in this situation. I haven't yet, of course. But I may just do that.

For now? I'm just happy to have done this and pushed myself a bit further forward. YAY!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Why I shouldn't date" bullet point entry #453,652,335.85

As I mentioned (somewhat) recently, I'm a rather visual person. A lot of my thoughts, lyrics, and songs have a visual element that either inspires them or imbue them.

This time is no exception.

A certain young man kinda entered my life a bit ago. Oh, it's all completely tangential at best. He lives over there, I live here. We've never met in person. We do naught but trade a few comments or such here and there. I'm not going to pretend there's something going on that's clearly not.

But still... A> he's adorable and, B> he's good at taking these pictures that just... OMG. There's something about them - the smiles and looks he captures, sometimes the post-processing... Just make me wanna wrap him in my arms and do naughty nice things.

And, being the irreverent dreamer that I am, I could all easily create this version of him in my head with a personality and being that *I* like and thus fall in love with this concoction that exists solely in my head...

Yeah. See, I actually do that with guys I meet and date anyways.

No, I shouldn't date. :D

But anywho... This time it just sorta sparked off a couple lyrics that, coupled with this tuning I've been using, have sorta spiraled off yet another song. Lyrically I really wanted to be _explicitly_ gay. And both tender/romantic and yet *quite* suggestive.

So far I'm pretty happy with it. Though I'm not quite convinced of the final lyrics. It does almost get a little bad-romance-book-ish. Hrmmm. I also *may* add a tin whistle melody in there as it does border a bit on the too-repetitive side.