This entry was posted by on Sunday, 24 April, 2011 at

Anyway, when I do blog, it is rarely about God at all. Usually it is about music. This is no different. Also, I should probably mention in advance, there is not going to be any payoff to this post. You have been warned.

I have been playing guitar again lately, or trying to anyway. (Mostly as a means to avoid something more important that I should be working on, but whatever.) I have also been thinking a lot about my “greatest hits” (in the loosest possible sense of the phrase). Basically, I have written a lot of songs over a lot of years and am now wondering which songs would someone expect to hear if I was doing a show? Not just a simple open mic night where you play three songs that no one has heard before and everyone in the place is either politely waiting for their turn to play or ignoring you entirely (or both), but an actual concert where people are coming to see me specifically. Answer: I do not have any hits. I do not have any fans. There are maybe four people on the planet who I would expect to even be able to name any of my songs off the top of their head. Most people that I know have not heard any of my music, and a good number of my songs have never been heard by anyone at all. In particular, the stuff that I have written in the last seven years, which have been few and far between, a lot of it is unfinished, most of it is crap, and very very little ever heard by anyone but me.

Yet I am reluctant to put any serious effort into new material when so much of my old stuff, “the classics”, remain unrecorded, intangible, unavailable. So then I invert the question: which of my songs do I wish that other people knew? Of course, then I just want to say, “All of them!” But there are a few I can throw out; that one was dumb; that one never really worked; that one was more of sketch than an actual song. Then I get to the pile of unfinished works that were solid ideas that I just never had the tools to execute the way I imagined them.

There is one song in particular that I have been struggling over. It is called “A Secret”, not that I expect that to mean anything to you. At the time I considered it the pinnacle of my guitar playing. Most of my songs are pretty simple. There’s the verse part, the chorus part, either a bridge or a solo but almost never both (and sometimes neither), maybe a little instrumental transition between chorus and verse. Three or four pieces total is all. But this song had a whole bunch of pieces. I actually wrote it by recording a lot of parts to a phrase sampler and stringing it all together, layers, loops and all. It is actually in G Mixolydian mode as well, which is unusual for me, not that I knew anything about modes back then, it just worked out that way. Yet it is not one of my hits. I do not remember the words, although I do have them written down somewhere. It is not one of the songs I play on the those occasions when I do pick up the guitar. You do not need to know it, I will not be playing it live.

Not that I will be playing anything else live for that matter. However, going back to the open mic idea, it occurred to me that Youtube is, in a sense, the world’s largest open mic. Better in some ways. There is no three song limit, and you are only watching because you want to. Of course, the down side is that it is not real… So I set up a channel a while ago as a way to get my music out there… and that is as far as I went. My playing style does not lend itself well to “pick up the guitar, face the camera, and go!” As I may have mentioned in the past, my songs sound like they want the full band treatment. I often lament that now I finally have the resources to at least fake the other parts for demo purposes, but lack the overall passion for music that I once had. Part of it is that songs written as an angsty teenager are harder to take seriously at 32. In retrospect, I was surprised at the high number of my songs that have lyrics where every line or couplet starts with the exact same word or phrase. U2 has several songs like that, and the Cure have a few as well, which is probably why I thought I could get away with it, but now it seems rather uninspired.

As for making videos, I have come up with concepts to go with a number of my songs, but seriously, if in all this time I could not be bothered to even record anything, what chance is there that I am going make them visually interesting as well?

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