Monday, January 26, 2009

The Worst Idea of All Time

I really thought I had heard it on at least ten occasions around Dwight and Christine. Turns out I was wrong. Here it is. "Disturbia" and "I'm Yours" are particularly kidtastic.

After your eyes have rolled back into their natural place, I'm sure you will ask yourself how I found that. And you should. When I am looking after Izzie during the day, there are several times when I need to leave Meghan's apartment. At some point I reasoned that she might be best entertained by kid's television shows. So Nickelodeon keeps her entertained while I am away. These young musicians greeted me on my way in this afternoon.

No really.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Seasonal Affective Disordnance

• I returned from Nashville ten days ago following a very good trip. My professional friends there were exactly as I had left them, for better or worse, and welcomed me back. I got good co-writing done with one old and one new co-writer, happened into an impromptu meeting at a place that can help, and heard some very good music. I also had a couple of beers with Amos at a show, which was naturally very nice as well.

• This time of year makes me feel like shit, and pretty much always has. I know a lot of it is the post-holiday, post-football lull. Some of it is certainly the sunlight. And some of it is likely the wait for things to become busy again. The wait won't be long.

• Though I am looking forward to GMEA this weekend, I have to admit that my mind is a week ahead of that. The following Friday, my first original concert band work will receive it's world premiere at the South Car0lina Music Educat0r's Ass0ciation conference. I'm excited and absolutely terrified. I hope this piece doesn't suck.

• I'm under three weeks from having my surgery-related movement restrictions lifted, and it's about time. Since Izzie joined us, it has been very difficult to honor those restrictions and take care of her as needed. Thus, other things have begun to hurt.

• Speaking of Izzie... I don't know if I have mentioned her on the blog before, but our puppy is amazing. We have had her for a month, and I am thrilled that she's with us. Everyone thinks their dog is the best dog ever. Ours is too, even though she just bit me in the mouth when she was kissing me goodnight.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Return to the Music City

It has been some seventeen months since Meghan blasted Dexter Freebish's "Leaving Town" from her car in Brentwood's Players Club parking lot and I closed the lock on the back of the Penske rental truck that would bring me home. And I mean some seventeen months.

A month ago, I mentioned that it was time once again for me to get back on the songwriting horse. Monday afternoon will bring the timid opening galops, as I hit the road for Nashville for my first legitimate business trip back since I left. The run-up to this return has brought about alternating fear and swagger.

I fear the rejection just like I always did, but I have heard so much of it over the years that I'm beginning to feel immune to it. I worry about the stigma that some may assign me for getting to town and then consciously choosing to leave after two years, though I know that those with whom I would would ever care to work would certainly understand my reasoning. I worry that some may be judgmental of my sporadic writing habits, but I know that many of the best binge and quit much as I do. I worry that I'm wasting time or money, but I think being satisfied that I've given it my very best shot is worth both.

The swagger results from writing again and the review of old material that comes with preparing for a trip to town. In looking back at what I have written in the last two to three years, the successful products bring to mind specific points in time in which songs have come together. Those moments are the precious minority - when the right word, note, change, or phrase finds its way into one's consciousness. I don't pretend that these are world-changing nuggets like "The movement you need is on your shoulder." They may never be heard outside my circle of friends and a few publishers with shaking heads. But, like the one good golf drive in a 100-shot day, those moments will keep a writer coming back for more. The more of those a writer can string together, the better his chances of shooting the writing equivalent of a sub-70 score become.

Fortunately for me, those moments are also enough to make me disregard the fear, get in the car, and drive north and west. Details upon my return.

Monday, January 05, 2009


I'm once again writing with a bit of insomnia, but it feels as though it will abate shortly.

The dis-assembly of Meghan's Christmas Tree (which functions, as many things do, as ours) was the big project for the day. I mentioned last year how much I hate the real and metaphorical boxing up of Christmas. That has always been the case, and definitely gets worse with age.

As we boxed the ornaments and removed the fake branches from the fake trunk, I began to say reassuring things in an effort to back Meghan and me off of the emotional cliff to which the re-emergence of the Real World can and does drive both of us at this time every year. The only words that seemed to work for me were old standards. I spun the end of the holidays as a beginning and not an end, as many wise or desperate widows, breakers-up, and newly married grooms do.

After giving the psychobabble some time to wear off, I concluded that I am actually quite optimistic about the year just begun. The most obvious cause for optimism is our June 27 wedding, and I am very excited about this. I am quite sure that subject will take up a good bit of the space on my blog for the next several months. But let me simply leave the subject by saying that I feel more genuine excitement, happiness, and peace over my impending wedding to Meghan that I have felt for anything before.

There are many reasons in addition to the wedding that give me reason to be upbeat. I feel like I am in a good professional spot, with many opportunities approaching. I am mentally as clear-headed as I remember being. I am about twenty-five pounds overweight - only some of which can be rightly blamed on the Great Back Trauma of 2008 - but I should be able to begin correcting that in six weeks. My finances are rapidly improving from the beating they took in college, grad school, five years of very poor pay, and two years in Nashville. Socially, I am within a one-hour drive of eighty-percent of my friends and a half-day drive of all of my family.

At a time when almost all news is wary of the future and Blue Monday is just two weeks away, it seems important to remind myself that the time between Christmases has a pretty good bit of promise as well - regardless of what the paper or that blank spot in the den would have me believe.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Airing of Grievances

I actually have few grievances, and virtually none which originate outside of my own shortcomings and failures to focus. I do think, however, that the holiday season would be more complete and much more interesting if the "Airing of Grievances" were an actual part of the celebration.

I have been thinking lately about my career (the part of it that I choose to pursue rather than need to continue). It occurs to me over (and over and over and over) that, for a writer, I don't write very much. That doesn't tend to bode well for one's future, so I have tried to figure out why that is. As I analyzed my use of time, I realized that I get bogged down too easily. I take my proverbial eye off the proverbial ball, become frustrated with the often meaningless periphery, and stop writing.

In my particular case, the stingy details are demo recordings. I have been warned about this a dozen times - that it is easy to become enamored by the process of creating music at the expense of creating songs - and now find myself far less productive now than I should be. This is made worse by the fact that I haven't learned the science and art of music engineering. I can kill a day trying to get the right sound on a guitar track. A good engineer can get it right in five minutes. Stephen Sondheim wrote "Send In the Clowns" in two days. Time is money, and I have spent mine whittling the firewood.

As you may have noticed on your right (my left), I made a New Year's resolution for the first time in many years. There are two parts to the resolution:

1. Read everyday. This doesn't mean the internet or the newspaper. It means something worthy of being published in permanent form in a book.

2. Write everyday. Blogging doesn't count. It has to be a song.

In order to do both, I will have to stop worrying about the things that don't matter and fixing the things that do. I really feel like this has to be successful. It feels like fulfilling my professional potential requires that I do both of these things, without the semi-comedic failure of many resolutions.

One of my biggest fears is looking back on my life and feeling as though I wasted something valuable.