Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Songs I wrote in Junior High School

The journey continues!

I started to write songs in the 6th grade. Actually I remember asking my dad how to write a song while we were going on a school trip. Oh the yellow school bus. He talked a lot about music (he's a good father. a good musician.) but little did he know that I already wrote my first song called "Slay the Dreamer". I have NO idea where the inspiration for this song came from, but it's probably the coolest song I ever wrote. Sorry I messed up the snaps in the beginning.

This tiny person wrote these songs.
I wrote "Alone" in 6th or 7th grade. It's pretty clear it's influenced by the Backstreet Boys.

I wrote "You Can't Stop Me Now" also sometime in junior high school. Also clearly influenced by the BSB. I should probably write them a letter thanking them for the influence.

6th grade. Pre-braces.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hello, Dolly!

I set some goals and have begun to work on the first one - a Soundcloud page with songs in order of how they were written. This first one was not written by me, but I did sing it everywhere 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. It defines an era of my life.

In the studio actin' a fool.

My dad (who looks like a Hasidic Jew for some reason) was my  manager basically.  His birthday at Astoria restaurant where I worked. 1996...1997...1998 somewhere in those years.

Me in maybe 5th grade with the guy from the Goonies. I didn't know who he was then. I still haven't seen the movie.
Singin' at the Brighton Beach annual summer fair.

Hello Dolly!

Hello Dolly! (People thought I was a boy because I cut my hair short).  4th grade for realz.

In other news, I unearthed sooo many unfinished songs I wrote/tried to write since the year 2000 (that's 12 years of material) that is overwhelming...and kind of hilarious.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Art and Fear (David & Ted)

"Making art is difficult. We leave drawings unfinished and stories unwritten. We do work that does not feel like our own. We repeat ourselves. We stop before we have mastered our materials, or continue on long after their potential is exhausted. Often the work we have not done seems more real in our minds than the pieces we have completed. And so questions arise: How does art get done? Why, often, does it not get done? And what is the nature of the difficulties that stop so many who start?"

That's how David Bayles & Ted Orland open their short book titled "Art & fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking".

According to them I am not quite yet a quitter with my music because I am still trying...occasionally. Well, David & Ted, I'm about to give it a real go!

For the most part I have been uninspired to write music for 4 or so years, but during this time I have actually written a handful of songs. The problem is that when I wrote music/songs as a kid in junior high and a teen in high school, I didn't judge them heavily or at all. I thought it was fantastic that I could write songs, I had a dream that one day I'd perform in Madison Square Garden, and then I got older and it was my way of getting out all that angst. They were good ol' fashioned pop songs influenced by what I listened to for years: Pop - Backstreet Boys specifically.

My songs changed a bit when I picked up the guitar because instead of being free to come up with any melody I wanted, I limited myself to what and how I could strum. Oh, and then I got a little older and wished my songs had more meaning, were more deep, were more than just about love or unlove.

Now, I say, who cares? Most of my songs come from a thought I had, a moment I had, a feeling I had. And for someone who is so accepting of my thoughts and feelings, it seems unfair to judge the words that I put to these thoughts, moments, and feelings! No more!

See, David & Ted did another thing in their book, they listed doubts:

"Making art can feel dangerous and revealing. Making art is dangerous and revealing. Making art precipitates self-doubt, stirring deep waters that lay between what you know you should be, and what you fear you might be. For many people, that alone is enough to prevent their ever getting started at all - and for those who do, trouble isn't long in coming. Doubts, in fact, soon rise in swarms:
I'm not an artist - I'm a phony
I have nothing worth saying
I'm not sure what I'm doing
Other people are better than I am
I'm only a [student/physicist/mother/whatever]
I've never had a real exhibit
No one understands my work
No one likes my work
I'm no good" (p. 13)

I mean, when two dudes simply and explicitly list everything you've ever felt, wouldn't you feel frustrated/empowered/upset/excited? I do.

I am not a quitter. I miss singing. I have a slew of songs. I may be uninspired but things are still happening in the musical corner of my brain.

"The point is that you learn how to make your work by making your work, and a great many pieces you make along the way will never stand out as finished art. The best you can do is make art you care about - and lots of it!" (p. 6)

David & Ted also talk about accepting challenges in order to grow and not quit. It's logical. It's scary.

I have three challenges for myself. Three challenges to accomplish over the next year.

1. Record every song I have ever written (did you know I was in 6th grade when I wrote my first song? It's a funny one.) and put up on Soundcloud or something. Some songs have been recorded in an actual studio, so I may put up the originals (because let's face it, when I was a vocal major in high school singing for 4 class periods a day, I sounded way better and more warmed up than I do now) I can do this by the time I go back for my last year of graduate school in September.

2. Take guitar lessons. If my guitar skills are limiting me, then I have to unlimit them. I have to figure out my money situation first, but this is important and doable.

3. Play a gig. Yes, that was my goal last year but then second semester of school started and it was hard and painful and I was tired all the time. This time, again, I say play a gig by May 2013. I want to do it for myself. I don't need to play Madison Square Garden. But I do need to do what I really miss doing - and that is singing for more than just myself. Who cares if I'm good or not? I mean, I'm not bad.

I'm only writing about it because it'll force me to do it and not get lazy, sit in front of the tv for the next month when I am not working or doing anything...this way I've put it out in the world...and I'm a pretty responsible person.

Well, wish me luck.