I haven't been in to record for almost three weeks. I hit some sort of wall. I just got so bored of sitting in that little room by myself, pushing record and singing into the mic take after take. Ugh. What I got down is technically fine. There's a strong signal. It's clear. No one but me would notice the small mistakes in the final take. Todd says once we start mixing it will become a totally different animal--the mixing is where the magic happens. But to me it all seems flat. Once I realized (a few weeks ago) that I would not have a cd to sell at my Listening Room gig last Friday, I eased up. I gave myself a break, from which I have not returned.
Then Sunday night I played at the Blue Moon. Everybody did a little set. I was in the middle. Mostly people did solo or duet stuff. Jay sat in on drums for most. And mostly it was mellow folk music. Don't get me wrong, I love mellow folk music. Most of what I play is mellow folk music. But this last batch of songs I've written (and, really, many of the songs I've written) have a strong pop leaning. They are "up". So I was thrilled to have Jay there. And Jay called John up to play bass--even better.
We hadn't rehearsed any of this. I wasn't even sure what I was going to play. I started with a new one called "Catch it when you can." It rocked. Then Robin came up and we sang another peppy new song called "Boca 1979" to which the lyrics are actually incredibly creepy and sad. It rocked. We then pulled "Econolodge" out of the recesses of our memory. Guess what. It rocked. Robin sat down and I finished with "Box of Letters" which I'd always wanted to play with a band.
That was THE MOST FUN I had had with my music in...forever. I felt energized. I felt inspired. I thought, I want to write songs for a guitar, bass, drum combo! And most of my songs really lend themselves to that bar band alt-country feel. It was so great. I'm sure it didn't SOUND fantastic to our listeners because it was totally on the fly with me shouting at John off mic "here comes the bridge! it goes to C!" or "in the next verse, guitar and bass drop out but keep a beat going, Jay!"
It was an epiphany. I need to change horses in midstream here. I think I need to go record live at Jay's with Jay and John. I can't go back to that little room by myself. Jay has an analog recording set up. It's not as high tech as Todd's and has a less polished, radio-ready sound to it. But I think I will gladly trade that out for an inspired sound and for ENJOYING myself doing it.
I have these nagging inner voices, though. They say, "oh, so suddenly you're a temperamental artist? and you can't create your art unless it's under the right conditions? get over yourself." It is hard for me to admit to myself that I'm a musician. To say "I'm a songwriter" and not "I've written a few songs." I don't know why it is, but it is hard to say that music is art and art is not like math where the answer comes out the same every time. Just putting in the time and practice and pushing the right buttons on the digital recorder does ensure (insure?) that I will have a product I can be happy with at the end of the day (month, year, God help me). Art does require inspiration. It is completely personal. It is about self expression and if I want to produce art (yes, please) I need to create a situation where I fell inspired, comfortable, and..well..psyched. I have to deliberatley grant myself permission for this.
Why do I resist that? Why do I feel like it's silly?
I don't feel like I've wasted my time recording at Todd's. It's all about lessons learned, right? So, I am learning what works for me and what doesn't work for me. I wasn't going to have a cd for my May show, anyway...so, we'll start over at Jay's this summer and hopefully, by the time I start school in August I will have a sweet, rockin', album of songs with my bar band. Oooh, I get excited just thinking of that.
I do of course need to get a couple songs recorded to send into a festival contest I want to enter. I've entered before with no success...but this may be my year...you never know.