Monday, April 29, 2013

The Crayon Continues

My great friend and musical collaborator Bunny Knutson posted a link to a satire piece in The Onion awhile back. It was right on the money for people like us. Unfortunately, it's not a happy message.

It could be anything—music, writing, drawing, acting, teaching—it really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that once you know what you want to do, you dive in a full 10 percent and spend the other 90 torturing yourself because you know damn well that it’s far too late to make a drastic career change, and that you’re stuck on this mind-numbing path for the rest of your life.

The Onion is a funny satire publication, but this article was a little too close to home to write off as comedy.

I'm a little more optimistic than Bunny in this regard, and the fact is that both of us have managed to make music a part of both our personal passion and our professional lives. That means we're luckier than 90% of other musicians (and other creative people) who work in jobs that have nothing to do with the thing that they enjoy the most. But the part of the Onion article that is undeniably correct is that except for a tiny fraction of a percent of people, no matter how good you are at an art form or how much you care about it, it's likely that you will never be in a position to devote as much time to it as you'd like.

All of this is a preamble to tell you some great news: we made big strides on another song by my "other" musical project, They Stole My Crayon. If you need a reminder, I don't blame you; it's been too long since I even mentioned this band which includes my ladyfriend Kat and Bunny. We went on a flurry of songwriting last fall, but as the Onion article implies, there's just not enough time to set aside for writing and recording to keep the project moving along at an acceptably fast pace.

Still, I'm not a quitter. When I found that I had some open time on Sunday, I was very happy to be able to dive back in. I didn't bother showering or changing out of my sweats, and actually started working on music while still in my bathrobe. That's a very good sign! We had a song that up until yesterday was purely the efforts of Bunny and Kat; she'd written some good lyrics for a song called "Things Under Trees", and Bunny had picked up the ball and run with it. The whole reason to be in a band is to get the contributions of a person like Bunny, who will do wonderful things with music that I'd never consider doing in a million years. He wrote the music, created the melody and song structure, and then did a very cool recording of the song, doing all of the parts himself.

And then... nothing. The song sat around for months. I liked it a lot, but for whatever reason, I wasn't hearing in my head how it could be further fleshed out. And then, with no warning or specific inspiration, I awoke yesterday and heard exactly what I wanted to do. I arranged some backing vocals for Kat and I... Bunny's voice is perfect for the lead on this rather spooky song. I feel the backing vocals brought out a cool element to the song, which has blossomed into something more baroque than I'd have earlier expected.

Watching someone work on music has, at most points, all the excitement of watching grass grow, or paint dry. Here's me mixing. Feel the thrill.

We spent a good chunk of the day coming up with parts and singing. After that, while Kat ran out to pick up lunch, I threw down a tiny effected guitar part in the song's coda. I did a quick mix of what we'd done to show Bunny, and was happily relieved when he replied to say that he liked what we'd done. The song is by no means "done", but it's a lot closer than it was when I got up yesterday morning, and I am inspired to move forward onto other songs.

So it goes. Hopefully I can stay on track, and keep Bunny and Kat with me, so we can actually wrap up enough songs and put out an album that we're proud of sometime this year. That's the goal, anyway, and if it has to happen on evenings and weekends, then so be it. I'm not the kind of person who ever wants to look back and regret not doing something that could have been great. Finishing this album is a step in that direction.

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