Thursday, December 17, 2009

Burlington VT and Other Random Thoughts

The other day I was thinking about music, and writing songs, in particular. Song ideas will often come to me while I am running around the Charles after I get home from work. If I stumble upon something in my head during a run that sticks in my mind, I try to repeat it to the tempo of my feet hitting the road until I get back to my apartment. The litmus test for me is if a musical idea stays with me the whole way home.

There can be lots of distractions during a run that can throw you off an idea. You could nearly be hit by a vehicle at the Mass Ave. Bridge. You could have some meathead that you pass decide it was too big of a shot to his ego to see you run by him, so he tries to race you for a couple hundred yards with an erratic series of bursts and lulls in his pace. You can witness a near pile up at Fiedler Bridge section of Storrow Drive or even pass Tom Cruise who is running in the opposite direction of you with his bodyguard.

Anyway, if the idea sticks, when I get home I have this habit of bringing my beater guitar into the bathroom with me. I usually sit on the pot and fool with whatever idea I have until my legs start to tingle. If things come quickly, I am usually psyched, and feel that the idea is intrinsically good, and that I should stay with it. I am always trying to stay cautious of how I attempt to develop a simple musical idea into the framework of an entire song. The concern is that you always revert back to your comfort zone and end up with essentially the same song as the last one you came up with, but with different lyrics, and in a different key. On the other end of the spectrum, I don’t want to force something into being so different and atypical that it no longer has any type of impressionable quality, but instead unintentionally sounds like a fugue or something, and someone listening to it tunes out 30 seconds into it.

Anyway, occasionally, I come up with something that I get incredibly excited about. I start to think it will be my breakthrough song. I play it until it is engrained in my DNA. I will play it for anyone who listens, then sort of assess their body language and general reaction to see if I am on point with my excitement about it. On occasion, my enthusiasm about what I have is met with a corresponding positive reaction from whoever is listening, and collectively we burst into a jubilant celebration about the song. More often though, I think the person hates my new song, and I usually abbreviate the arrangement on the spot so that they don’t have to sit in awkward silence as I muscle through my newly drafted opus. Deep down I probably still think it rocks at that point, but it is a little bit of a let down.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say on my songwriting endeavors today. Our gig up at Red Square in Burlington on Sat. 12.12.09 was wicked awesome, pal! Mike and I got to the hotel at around 7:30 and thought we were going to have a good hour to chill… not the case! Max and Colin cracked the whip on us about 20 minutes after we got there, and we had to split to the club. The gig was really fun, and we all felt really good about it. Playing inside at Red Square is a nice setting. The room is hip, and packs with UVMers that have a tendency to dance and support bands they’ve never heard of. It is ideal. Thank you for that, kids! Finally, we are really psyched for The Bitter End in NYC this upcoming weekend. That show will be something. Look OUT!