written by peter m.
I don’t know when i stopped just writing songs as a hobby and started occasionally referring to myself as a singer-songwriter. How can i really draw a line there? How does someone go from doodling to being an artist? I doodled for a long time, writing good songs that never left my own bedroom – akin to sketches in the margins of a notebook. Now i take myself seriously, constantly revising and re-recording each song until i feel as though it has reached its end point – and even then occasionally pulling it off the shelf to be aired.
I cannot pinpoint the day that i began to take myself serious enough to say so out loud, but i can promise you it had to do with my next song. Earlier this evening i told someone via IM that practicing songs was like sanding down a chunk of wood until it becomes a perfectly smooth sphere, and that i only had one or two songs out of over a hundred that had reached that point. This song, if no other, has gone there… to the point where i can get lost in the nuances of one silly little riff and then forget the lyrics entirely. I have played it so many times, in so many different ways, that it’s as if i have come back around to it being new again and i am now discovering it for the first time.
It takes a big song to fill that void, and it didn’t start out big. It still isn’t, actually: just three chords, three verses, and what was once just some fortuitous ad-libbing. When i sing it, i feel famous. It makes me sweat because i move to it underneath my guitar as my fingers dance back and forth across the riffs i have unearthed, there shape and arrangement changing on every beat. It makes me frustrated when it will not sound out correctly, and it makes me glow when i change something about it only to make it more interesting to perform.
It’s late, and a lot of bloggers are getting a little weepy, but this is how i always feel about song 25/24. Earlier tonight i tried my best to open up a new side of it for you to see, and i encourage you to click through to older audio of it through its lyrics file so that you can hear the differences i am talking about. I’m under no illusion that, as a result, you will take me any more seriously as a musician. But, maybe you’ll just be able to understand how i can feel like this about something so simple that anyone who has performed on it has irrevocably altered.
Thank you for reading, thank you for listening, and goodnight.
There are so many thank you‘s to give out this year, and don’t have a lot of time to get them all straight before my final post is due. I, we, obviously owe a great deal of thanx to Cat Connor and the rest of the official Blogathon team for getting us to and through this point with hardly any significant technical difficulties – not to mention an excess of enthusiasm and cheer. Cat went above and beyond her call of duty by sponsoring me back when it looked as though i might not even make the ‘thon cutoff, and for that i am very grateful. Which naturally leads us to my sponsors: Cat, Rabi, Tony, Courtney, Dave, Tom, Alayna-Renee, Maggie, Amy, and my roommate Kate. In my mind sponsoring someone for blogathon not only includes a donation to a sympathetic charity but also a vote of confidence that the sponsoree will work to the best of their ability for an entire 24hours to create new and worthwhile content. Knowing that the eyes of my sponsors were on me i couldn’t help but want to do my very utmost to show that i’m serious about this event.
I can hardly forget the people who kept me awake, especially Lynne & Benjy, who definitely spent a lot more time talking to me than anyone should ever have to. Next, there are the people who physically showed up to put in time on this project. Lindsay – who is one of the most talented people i have ever known (and a hilarious co-worker); Kate – who brought me humor, granola bars, and support … all unconditionally; Elise – who really shouldn’t have even put up with my sleepless wackiness as much as she did (and whom i will commence cuddling with very shortly); Gina – who continues to inspire and amaze me with every note she exudes; Jack – whose humor and grace at being rescheduled paid off in finally recording one of my all-time favorite songs; Karen and her bemused patience at my insanity over the entire event; and Dante – who didn’t even get to play on all the songs he could have added his talents to.
My final thank you is simple: thank you for listening. It doesn’t really feel like it, but i’ve been playing my heart out now for more than just a couple of years, and today i think my music might have traveled farther than ever before. Thank you for humoring me, and for being patient with me, and for spending your time and bandwidth on me; it means more than i can sing, strum, or even plainly say.
Tonight’s collection of songs has included a number of collaborations, but i chose to single out these two for what they represent. These two song are about my roommates getting excited weeks ahead of time when i explained the nature of my blogathon project. These two songs are about calling up people and telling them that they should sponsor me without having ever met or read me before in their lives. These two songs are about all of the the laughter in between each and every take.
They’re about the joy i find in creating music, especially with other people. Ziggy was the last song we did tonight, with Jack and i barely keeping a straight face as we adopted our faux British accents and belted above our comfortable ranges; it’s the first time i’ve ever recorded a David Bowie song for my webpage. Basketcase was conceived of weeks ago after Lindsay and i spent a whole day at work listening to Dookie over and and over again. It was the first song with extra vocalists that i recorded with the new mixer, and we hammered away at take after take as Lindsay and Kate broke into giggles and i kept breaking strings. You can hear the laughter – on both tracks, actually – if you listen closely enough.
So, here we are in the last hour. One more song to go. Yikes.
Yikes, eleven minutes of downtime from Blogger made me not a happy ‘thonner for a while there. Anyhow, remember, this is 25/24, so there’s still one song left at the end of the final hour!