Thursday, May 31, 2007

In Athens in prep work for summer camp, just like this time last year... Time at a premium... Verbs also at a premium... More later.... Vowels also at a premium...


Thursday, May 24, 2007

A few things I have learned since I moved

By the time I return from my impending month-long trip back to Georgia, it will have been nearly two years since I left the world of the gainfully employed to pursue this whatever-it-is that I’m after. I was at another show tonight, and it occurred to me in the middle of the show that this was the case. I began to think about some of the things that I think I have learned over this period of time, understanding that more time behind the pen can prove some of these things to be true or false. I thought I would jot some of those things down - if for no other reason, so I can look back in a couple of years and laugh.

1. This business is huge. There are simply a lot of people in the game… way too many to meet.

2. Among those many are some incredibly talented people, and a few not-so-talented people. Many of the talented people won’t make it, and a few of the not-so-talented people will. Even if you are very talented, work very hard, treat people right, and follow the steps you’re supposed to follow, there is a distinct possibility that you will not make it. The cost of the attempt is that it takes a long time with no guarantees.

3. There are ways of being encouraging and “community-minded” without being untruthful.

4. I have made a good decision not to act in haste in my activities in the business. It has always taken me a long time to get comfortable, and even longer to find my way. That is a process of which I am still in the middle, and may or may not continue to be for some time.

5. In this business (much like in relationships… I wish I had known this earlier), there are situations that require your obsession, aggression, and persistence. There are also many, many situations that require your patience, passivity, contemplation, independent confidence, and willingness to walk away. Good judgment about which of these applies in a given situation comes only from experience. And experience comes – as they say – from bad judgment (or if you’re lucky, observing someone else’s bad judgment).

6. You can not judge what you wrote yesterday against something that a 20-year pro wrote and re-wrote with another pro many years and spins ago on their best day and expect to feel adequate.

7. You can not assume that you are as good as you are going to get and expect to want to continue.

8. You can not get better by sitting around thinking about it.

9. There are reasons why there is a songwriting “community,” and among them is not “so you can sit on half of a great song wondering when the rest of it will become obvious.”

10. If it sounds like something that "could be on the radio right now," then it is probably two years behind its time.

I very strongly believe that the decision to move was a very very good one. But in all honesty, if I had known two-and-a-half years ago that things would be as they are now, I am not sure that I would have made the move. It's a good thing I did it when I did.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Truth in greeting cards

Well, Adam H. sent this to me, and he didn't put it on his blog, so I am putting it on mine. Here are several particularly strong greeting cards from (Motto: "When you care enough to hit send."). How about five that would be appropriate from me to a few people I know? Who would get which and why will be left up to your imagination. Sorry in advance for pissing you off if you think one is intended for you... it probably is.

Card #1
Card #2
Card #3
Card #4
and finally, Card #5.

PS - I have been debating about whether to accompany this story (which took place just outside my actual childhood hometown) with a headline contest or a monologue questioning why so many people still think that their government can somehow be trustworthy. I'm going with the headline contest if you've got something.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mr. Jack

I can only add two things to what Russ had to say:

1. It will change the way you drink whiskey.
2. Here's what I got with the $60 I spent but did not have.

Actually Russ bought the bottle, and we didn't get it there. But we did spend quite a bit of time sampling the product once we got back. That's what was left of the bottle.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I have so been tagged

Traci tagged me to complete the "8 Things" meme, which theoretically requires me to complete the requirements and then tag 8 other people to do the same. I, however, am a bit of a party pooper when it comes to things of this nature. Because I know the people who read this blog, I would guess that 80-90% of you will respond to the message that you have been tagged with a loud verbal "What the f*ck!??? Come on, Brett! Really. Really?" And then you won't think I am cool, and I am not ok with that.

However, I can not say "no" to Traci... partially because she is smarter than I am (I am simultaneouly intimidated by and attracted to smart women... a true double whammy), partially because someone supposedly under my charge was somewhat responsible for her unfortunate #5, partially because it might be in my best interest, and partially because bullets are soooooo April 2007.

So instead, I will "suggest" that a few people undertake this, and let Darwin do the rest. 8 random facts about you... blog about 'em, preferably with details containing sexual, violent, or gossip-laden undertones... tag recommend the exercise to someone else (preferably someone who either doesn't blog enough or wasn't around for the last such exercise... I'm going < 8), and let them know about it... watch the words as they fly through the internet.

The facts:

1. I have three permanent scars above my neck:

- One on top of my head from falling in my elementary school hall on the way to day-care in second grade.
- One on stage right of my forehead. My dad pulled a napping Brett from the back seat of the car when I was three-years old and, thinking I was awake, set me down in a standing-like position. The wheel of his mid-70's Buick Century interfered with the path of my forehead to the ground.
- One on stage left on my cheek. My face was cut open by the teeth of a baseball teammate diving for a fly ball in a scrimmage game in fifth grade. I am horribly self-conscious about it, which is why I don't tend to smile a lot (I only see it when I smile) and why I mistakenly think growing a beard is a good idea every few years.

2. When I hear dummy lyrics to a song I'm writing, they are real words but they make no sense. One I'm working on right now has the dummy lyrics, "Rides like hell, burning like a lizard in an old man's shoe." I know. I know.

3. I hate my apartment but I need to stay in it one more year. The AC is so loud, however, that it is literally becoming a cliche. When it comes on, I have more than once caught myself saying, "Oh, puhhhllllleeeeaaaazzzzeeee!" Again, I know.

4. I get tv crushes on women who are not the normal tv crushes. Here are four of them:

- The Movie Star
- The Domestic Woman
- The TV Personality
- The Singer

5. Whenever I instant message anyone, I always think it's a nuisance. When I get a phone call about business without an advance email, text, or IM, I also almost always think it's a nuisance.

6. I think I can tell if someone has bad breath just by looking at them.

7. I almost always despise working in groups, and pretty much have from the start. The first time I ever cursed was when my second-grade teacher assigned a group project. I think I almost always work better alone and slowly.

However, in extreeeeeemely rare circumstances I find working with an individual to be far superior to working alone. I can count those times on one hand, and sometimes it feels like that is what I am looking for when I'm just looking around.

8. When I remember things I miss, I remember very tiny real or combinations of similar instances and the feeling that accompanies them. I spend a significant amount of my thought and energy attempting to recreate or improve upon those moments. Examples would include:

- The last 4 notes of Chorale #3.
- My grandfather laughing.
- The moment right after the "money line" of your best song, from behind the guitar.
- The vacuum of activity in the rest of the world that comes with a first kiss.
- The taste of Big League Chew, as my Mom and I were walking out of Food Town.
- Catching a glimpse through the portals of the seats in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium for the first time.
- The first sip of Jack and Coke on a spring or fall evening in downtown Athens, followed faithfully by the words, "Well, how are ya'?"
- Diesel fumes three minutes before the buses leave for home.
- My first and last names called out from a distance from an old friend I haven't seen in years, as though they aren't sure that I am alive but that they're glad I am.

Who should do this?

- Scorley
- Hagood
- Adam H.
- Anyone who doesn't like dead kittens

Participating in the re-tagging pyramid scheme not necessary.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Bluebird

It has now been over ten years since I began making the trek to the Bluebird C@fe. My first trips were in the middle of college. Sometimes I came by myself, and other times I had as many as three friends with me.

We would leave Athens at 1:00 PM on a Monday and arrive at the front of the room just in time to get my name on the list for the 0pen mic night. Usually, however, there were enough people in front of you who didn't get to play the previous week that you left only with the experience of having been an audience member and a slip of paper that moved you to the front of the line the next time you came to play. So in essence, you had to make the ten-hour round trip once just in order to get the privilege of playing your two songs the next time you made the ten-hour round trip. Nevertheless we did it several times during college. We were usually home by 1:30 the next morning, and we usually (read "rarely") made it to class the next morning.

Over the years, the place has alternately thrilled and disappointed me through no fault of its own. Just as the industry ebbs and flows, so does the quality of the artistry that it produces, and thus also does the intensity of fascination with said artistry and the venues that offer it. I was back there tonight to hear a friend and c0-writer, on a night that normally doesn't bode well for crowds in Nashville. I heard some very nice stuff, and had some realizations about the business and my place in it or not in it that will remain private.

All that is to say that my appreciation for the little joint is on the positive end of the curve right now. I will probably go back soon, perhaps with you. Maybe you'll even stop in to see me there someday soon.

But if you never make it by, hopefully you will at least get to drive past it to see it in its own environment. Though I'm sure this is a mountain of a molehill, I have always found the setting of the Bluebird to be a highly appropriate symbol of the relative insignificance of even the biggest participant in the business of music.

First, the view from the front of the unofficial mecca of s0ngwriting (Sorry... you can't read the banner for the glare... It says "The Bluebird C@fe").

And now the view from fifty yards away, still within the confines of the strip mall in which the Bluebird sits (It's the little blip of light shaped like a backward "7" just to the right of the center of the picture).

Just something to remember, whether you're the next Santana or the next Sanjaya.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Not much to tell...

• I am home again, and actually don't have to travel again for a couple of weeks. I am more pleased than I can possibly tell you, but I'm also completely exhausted.

• I finally got around to seeing The Godfather Part II last week, having only seen The Godfather last October. The more I think about it, the more I realize that both are films that are so great that they ruin all other films (like Steely Dan is to music, or Sorkin is to television). If you haven't seen them (and I know you are out there), hurry up and do it before the war.

• If you're like me (and that seems highly unlikely), you are frequently disturbed by what is sometimes referred to as "Art." In my prior job, I spent an awful lot of time mumbling under my breath about the king's nudity. I recently ran across an article written by one of my songwriting heroes about what is and isn't Art. After reading it, I feel justified in my cynicism.

• I'm restless, but I don't feel like moving.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The last of my "weekend" escort jobs (not what you think... if only it were) begins today. Pigeon Forge and memories of a lifetime are the destinations (pffft) Thursday through Saturday.

Musically, this has been one of the most interesting weeks in memory. My musical confidence has swung from a big high Saturday evening, to a pretty brutal low Monday morning and then back up Tuesday afternoon. If you have ever tried to write music of any kind, you know that confidence makes or breaks your productivity. It has done both so far this week.

And in other news, it is so on.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Two pictures from the second Charlotte trip

I still giggle like a middle school trumpet player every time I see this.

Oh, and apparently the state of North Carolina finally has that whole time travel thing down. (Click it and read carefully)

Where we're going, we don't need roads.

Also, I reeeeaaaalllly want to meet the person who first thought it was a good idea to memorialize a dead friend with a decal on the back of their car.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Look at what my Dad bought today

Looks like he might ought to learn to park it before he drives it.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

This is one of those rare times that I am going to blog simply to do so and, I guess, to document that I have nothing about which to blog. Between running to Charlotte or Pigeon Forge on the weekends for one job, and busting my tail to get work done the rest of the week for the other, I'm just thinking of work most of the time and not really of anything that would interest you. I'm sure that will change soon.