Music Post 005: A New Game

Music Post 005: A New Game

It would seem this learning a song per week has petered out. But I haven’t let it discourage me. I have a new game.

This new game is to practice a handful of songs that I could play at a given notice or while out and playing with others.

I’ve been practicing Plush by Stone Temple Pilots. I keep practicing Times Like These by Foo Fighters. I’ve started to learn Here I Go Again by White Snake.

Some other songs I have learned in the past and want to practice more to get better are:

Promise by When In Rome
Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in a Small Town by Pearl Jam
Hold Me Now by Thompson Twins

If I can get to know between five and ten songs I will be better about my attempt to learn more songs this year.

I’ll post the songs when I record them.

I may even throw in a few of my own. To play my own stuff live will be fun, too.


Music Post 003 – Revolution Radio

Music Post 003 – Revolution Radio 9/11/17

I took my son to his first concert: Green Day, the Revolution Radio tour. He has been loving Green Dayfor the past year and the timing was great. Serendipitous, in fact. I like when these things happen: when you are into a band, movie, comic book series, TV show, podcast, and then there is a tour and it comes to your town just at the right time because you’re so into what is happening with it you gotta buy a ticket. This has been happening to me for the last 6 years or so, as I’ve mentioned in my last music post. (See Times Like These – Foo Fighters). I stole from my own writing and used it here. I think that’s okay. I probably won’t mind the plagiarism this time.

I had never seen Green Day live when they were at their height of popularity back in the 90’s. However, I could be totally wrong in saying that. The concert I went to a few weeks ago was packed. Park was an insane nightmare. But, anyway, I enjoyed their radio played songs over the years. I had the Nimrod CD that I bought some time in the early 2000’s. It was the only Green Dayalbum I ever owned. So, I was more of a passive listener.

Then American Idiot came out and I became more of an active listener. It is still my favorite Green Day album to date. I feel to this day that it is their opus. That is strictly my opinion. Some may feel 21st Century Breakdown was another opus. I could agree, but it wasn’t made into a Broadway musical. The documentary, Broadway Idiot, about the making of the musical is a great watch. I highly recommend it. I wish I had gone to see it when it was playing, especially when Billy Joe took over the role of St. Vinny. It would have been worth it.

As far as having learned Green Day songs in the past, I started out with “Brain Stew” and “Basket Case”. When I started to learn guitar back in the late 90’s, those two songs were in my learning book. They became the Big Two that I could play and sing along to with consistency. I say “Big Two” meaning I could play and sing to myself, in my room, with nobody else around.

I attempted to learn a few songs from American Idiot. I learned the title track, but never to the point that I could play comfortably from beginning to end. I didn’t learn the lyrics fully, either. I did that with many songs. Classic me.

There will be room for another Green Day songs along this trip, but I chose Revolution Radio for two reasons. It’s is a fun song and I recently saw Billy Joe and the boys (like I know them like that to make such a reference) in concert. It helped that my kids kept singing it, so I guess it was sort of chosen for me to learn.

I screwed up a lot on this recording. I recorded a few times but there were parts that I struggled with and it sounds horrible, but I only give myself a week before moving on to the next song. I kept procrastinating on this one because I knew where I sucked and that the final product would be rubbish. I didn’t bother with the lyrics. It’s just my version, the guitar only. So, here you go warts and all.



Watch Anything

After watching another two episodes in Season 2 of Game of Thrones and not blogging about how I continue to fail at learning a song per week, I decided to watch a TED Talk from the TED app on my Amazon Fire Stick. (Shameless plugs or just part of everyday lexicon?)

I was feeling frisky and in the mood for anything, I chose the Watch Anything option. Why not let TED pick for me. It chose Esther Perel’s The Secret Desire in a Long Term Relationship. I looked forward to uncovering the nugget of information I’d get from this talk. Though, I had watched it before I thought I might be inspired by some new, personal interpretation. So, I paused the talk and started writing this post in anticipation. But I took so long constructing this introduction that the Fire Stick screen saver came on.

I had been booted out.

When I went back into the app Esther’s talk was gone and I had to chose the Watch Anything option again. This time Aakash Odedra’s A Dance in a Hurricane of Paper, Wind and Light came on. I figured since I was in the mood for anything, I would accept this option.

The dance piece was called “Murmur”.

I won’t try to interpret what he did. He has his message in his language and it should be interpreted by those who watch it to decipher the meaning they pull out of it.

To me, it was a man who put his art out there for anyone to see. He created. For himself. Allowed others to view it. That is courage. That is what creatives are meant to do.

I think this falls in line with a recent post by James Altucher. James said “Process is art.” The act of creating something is the art itself. The product is the end result. Just like learning and education. It isn’t just that you made something and say “hey, look what I did.” Or in the case of education, “hey, look what I know.”

Posting the work as you go. Talking through the work, about the work, is just as important.

I say all this and want to believe it, but I don’t do it. I want to say, “hey, look what I did.” But if I don’t think somebody is watching or going to see what I did, my motivation, or interest, wanes. That is not loving the process of art. That is not believing in the art. That isn’t anywhere near it.

I’ve finished projects. And thinking on it now, I finished those projects because I loved the process. The process of wrighting my two novels. The process of writing my graphic novel. They were stories within me that I nutured as they grew out of me. I wrote out many scenes. I edited, added and cut and deleted. Then added again.

Thought, time and effort went into those projects. And who read them but a few. I didn’t write so others would approve. I wrote because I loved it. I wanted to see what was at the end of the process. I said to myself, “hey, look what you did.”

Of course, I would like for these stories to be out there in the world for others to read. I want others to like them. I think some people would. I think others wouldn’t and I don’t want my babies judged by haters. My work doesn’t deserve that. No one’s work does.

Sending our babies, our children, out into the real world is scary. I mean this in the creative sense for both our flesh and blood children and the children we put our blood, sweat and tears into.

Fear of judgment. How it keeps us from taking those risks that are part of the process to achieve our goals, dreams or whatever you want to call what you are after.

That is what I got out of this TED Talk. So, I’m going to post my process on the Green Day song. It is just the guitar part and it is all I have completed for now.

Will you read the next post and listen to my process? I hope so, but if not that’s ok. It’s not about you.

Music Post 001

Music Post 001

I had always wanted to give myself a creative challenge that involved music. I had a big idea to learn a song a day. It’s bold, I know. My plan was to look up the cords (most likely from Ultimate Guitar), search the lyrics, and look up practice videos on YouTube. Then at the end of day I’d practice a little and then record. It was an awesome, bold idea. This process would allow me to could learn 356 songs in a year. The possibilities were endless. I could turn it into a YouTube show sensation. This crazy guy learning a song a day for a whole year. Are there even that many songs in existence? If you listen to the radio as your primary source of music, you would answer that question with an emphatic “NO!” But 365 songs would equal, like, the complete song catalogues of five famous bands. I didn’t want to do the research on this so you choose the bands.

Of course, I would give credit to the sources of the tabs, online videos and lyrics sheets. I began to have visions of gaining a following. And to keep the folIowing happy I would have to do this every day. I would have to commit. I would have to screw up and apologize for letting my life get in the way of learning songs for like a week. It was a big idea and commitment that I was dreaming up in my head. It was getting way too big. I wasn’t considering the reality at the time. I had two young kids, wife who worked long hours and a full time job. It was way too big of an idea. So, I talked myself out of it. Thought myself out of it.

Some time went by, and I another thought came to me. The idea didn’t want to die. The other thought was, I could learn a song a week. I would follow the same structure as above, look up tabs, video lessons and lyrics, and I could blog about my progress and record the song at the end of the week. Fifty-two songs a year. That was more doable. However, the part of my brain that shutdown the song-a-day idea reminded me, “Hey, remember? The kids, the wife, the full time job, the commitment. Those things still exist.” So, I talked myself out of it, again. Thought myself out of it, again.

That was four years ago. I’m four years older. And I still have not committed to this thing I know I want to do. Of course, now, my kids are older and able to fend for themselves a little more. My wife and I are separated. I’m living on my own and there are days and evenings I don’t have the kids. I have the time. I had the time before, but I wasn’t kind to myself to put that time aside. My job is more complex and it takes a mental toll on me. It can be emotionally draining. When I’m in a bad place inside my head, I will struggle to commit to doing self-care. I put all this other stuff first and fail to commit to myself. I have continued to talk myself out of the weekly song learning and blog writing.

I don’t want four more years to go by and not have done this. I know this is something I can do. I can achieve this. A one year commit. One week at a time. One song at a time. Fifty-two songs.

I know I can do this, because I have committed to other self-projects and completed them. I wrote two books and a script for a graphic novel. I haven’t properly edited them for public consumption, but I did complete them. One part was the commitment to that one thing. I focused on one project at a time and completed them. I, also, let other people know that I was writing. By letting friends and family know what I was doing, I knew they would ask how the writing was going which meant I would have to answer. And I didn’t want the answer to be “oh, I haven’t been writing” or “I haven’t started” or worse “I decided not to do it. I just don’t have the time.”

Thought excuses are my enemy. Being trapped in my head. Keeping the projects secret meant I could quit at any time and not be held accountable. So, I closed that loophole. I told people. I talked about what I was doing. I was able to avoid the excuses.

If I was able to escape excuses before and I know what I need to do to get my projects started and completed, why am I still able to fall into that mindtrap?

It is: Fear of rejection. But fear from who? Fear from the Unknowns. The unknown naysayers. The trolls of the internet. The made up people in my head. Those voices. I let those voices stop me.

I know those made up people in my head don’t matter. I know I can do this. I know what other things I need to do to show commitment to this project. I have to give up the TV shows for a while. I’ve got to get people involved, like my son. He knows what I’m trying to do and will ask me what new song am I learning this week.. I want to be able to tell him what song I’m working on. I want to show him what it means to commit to something you really want to do. I want to be proud of myself like I want him to be proud of me.

I need to stay out of my head and away from excuses. They just make me feel badly about myself . Why the hell do I want to feel badly about myself. It’s a bad loop to be caught up in.

My first song has been recorded. I’m on week two with song two.

It’s a start. And I will post. Warts and all.