Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Squishing Out Songs
Late last night I was in the basement mixing a song that I’ve been working on. It’s a painful process in some ways. Some people compare it to giving birth, but that’s stupid. I have watched my wife give birth and suggesting that writing a song is comparable to that effort is the height of ignorance. But there is a kind of squishing, pushing, shoving, working to get this thing out of your mind and have it “work.” That’s my word for it. Some things “work” and some don’t. They fit, they click, they fill in the missing pieces: however you want to put it. There is this element of craft that is built on discipline, but it really blooms with the heart.
As I work on my songs, I have to compensate a lot for my weaknesses, and that can take up a lot of time. But things still come together. And when I hear them coming together, it makes me weep. I’m not kidding. I know it’s pathetic, but I have been a long time getting to this place.
Crafting songs is a challenge. I don’t think I would ever be totally satisfied, no matter what. I suppose I could have a world class producer, a multimillion dollar studio and a lot more ability than I have, and I’d still find things that just aren’t what they need to be. It’s kind of a curse. But I’m trying hard to learn to be satisfied, especially with my radically low end set up.
So far, I have three church songs that are basically finished. They need to be mastered, which I don’t know how to do. I also have a country song that’s been done for a while, but I frankly am not sure what to do with it. People I play it for like it, but I know nothing about the country market. And I have about 6 songs in the pipe, being developed and chipped away at, along with about 30 demos and some other pieces of things that aren’t whole yet. And then there's the backlog of probably 40 or 50 more songs that I haven't even started getting organized. Interestingly, so far they are all very different in a lot of ways. I don’t have a “sound” but I don’t especially want one. I’m not particularly looking to perform these myself. I’m hoping to have others do that.
When I say “craft” I really mean it. Not in the Harry Potter sense, but in the skilled trades sense. Like a carpenter. Like an artist who carves statues. Like a teacher trying to shape the mind of a student. Music and writing and a lot of other arts are, at their core, a craft that has to be developed and nurtured. Which takes time and patience and massive amounts of commitment.
Even the most absolutely pathetic pop stars are usually surrounded by excellent craftspeople. They wouldn’t ever release any music if they weren’t. I’ve got some people helping me that are way more than I deserve. Very gifted and willing to be there to get things done. Without them I’d probably only have one song up by now. And even with the great musicians, few of them have it all in themselves to get great things done.
Squishing out songs is a team effort.
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2011