Win Anyway

I’m putting myself out there on this one.

This home demo from 18 years ago (of a song written 20 years ago) is about as rough as they come. As I like to say, as a musician I made a good lyricist. This is the only demo of this song I have, so…

I wrote the song with a particular view of beating the odds, bucking the system, climbing the mountain. Mainly, it expresses my world view that some things are worth fighting for, or against, regardless of the chances of winning. It also expresses my personal view that nobody but me tells me what I’m capable or incapable of doing.

In more modern times, this song has been hanging around in the back of my mind as one particularly suited for the gun control movement. A protest song in that grand tradition. We shall overcome.

But I haven’t really done much about that idea.

So, today I am.

For any of you who write songs, I offer this up as a co-writing opportunity long after the fact. Please feel free to have at it. Use the melody, the lyrics. Use a line. A word. The title. It is my hope that you can hear through the performance to something resonant. It has always felt unfinished to me, so finish it if you will.

Or, let it stay as it is. I fully realize some songwriting attempts are dead ends, and deserve to stay in the dustbin.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t try.

In Spite Of Myself

I will be the first to tell you, I’m not always the easiest guy in the world with whom to live. I have my idiosyncrasies and annoying habits like everyone else. I am prone to melancholia. I hate to be wrong. I eat all the cheese.

Another thing I’ve long known about myself makes me my own worst enemy sometimes.

I am just not very good at accepting help.

I am even worse at asking for it.

I do take pride in knowing I am not a slave to my weaknesses. I face them. I try to admit them. I try to minimize them if they can’t be eliminated.

It is with this idea in mind that I created my latest endeavor…against my own better judgment.

As you may have read in a prior blog, a year ago I had some of my home-recorded song demos professionally produced via the great Nashville Studio Live. As a music lover deep and true, this has been one of the greatest life experiences I’ve had.

Since then I have been actively releasing the songs (and others) in to the world in the hope something good becomes of them. More than anything else, I hope that someone who otherwise would not have heard them gets some enjoyment from them.

Now I am hoping to bring more pro demos to life.

I became aware of Kickstarter not that long ago. Being the geek that I am, I was immediately impressed with this use of technology and social media. Authors, filmmakers, musicians and the like have had success gathering critical mass for support of their artistic projects. That people of much more renown than I (Marshall Crenshaw, Griffin House) have had success there only adds to its legitimacy.

My own project has been launched in the hope it will virally spread to people far and wide. This is not the type of Kickstarter project that is going to bring in big pledges. It will absolutely require a grassroots sensibility and many, many folks giving $1 or $2. It will require those backers, as well as folks who can’t or don’t pledge, to help spread the word via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, smoke signals, whatever it takes.

It will require help.

I’m asking for your help.

Born Anew: Professional Songwriter Demos, Vol. 2

Follow the link to check out the Kickstarter project

Thank you!

A Masterpiece

Hello Cruel WorldIn a career brimming with stellar songs from a unique perspective, Gretchen PetersHello Cruel World (released today) is unquestionably her finest hour.

It is dark and sad, brave and beautiful. There is loneliness and regret, and there is the redemption and refuge found in true companionship. It is true. It is life.

Make no mistake, this is a collection of songs that leans toward the darkness. That makes the cracks of light throughout all the more enlightening. Besides, as Mary Chapin Carpenter once said, “you can’t know the light without the darkness.”

Tastefully understated production and arrangement serve the songs perfectly, and the musicianship is simply outstanding.

This album will get inside you, and I suspect that it will not leave you anytime soon. It is a brilliant and intimate reflection on life and living in what is indeed a cruel world.

Somehow, the world seems a bit less harsh with this music in it.

OK, What If They Suck?

As I write this, Cliff Goldmacher is beginning to mix the four songs we recorded via Nashville Studio Live this week. The next phase of this endeavor of mine is about to get under way. It is, without question, going to be a path lined with frustration, confusion, wasted effort and a Super Sized helping of tilting at windmills.

The path may also be strewn with negativity, but I don’t care about that.

Music is one of my life’s great passions. It is, for me, not just background noise but more the soundtrack that has guided my steps along my journey. The lengths to which I have gone, figuratively and literally, to enjoy it are probably outrageous to some, but “if there were no music, I would not get through…”*

Of course, taking music so seriously and embracing the work of respected songwriters, some of whom are legendary, doesn’t mean that one can actually do that well himself. I sure as heck know that Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player ever. Let’s just say I was not.

When we conferenced via Skype after the band finished its work yesterday, I told the guys that we’d let the world decide whether the songs we tracked were any good or not, but that I knew the performances would be exceptional. They are. The gift that Cliff, George, Barry, Dave, Nick, Kevin and Tim have given to me with their respective skills and talents is one I won’t even try to diminish with words. They took what I made up in my own head and they made it beautiful. How can you possibly thank someone sufficiently for that?

Music is subjective. It is art, not science. There are plenty of people who don’t get what the big deal is about Bruce Springsteen, or can’t get past Bob Dylan’s voice. On the other hand, there are legions of fans for bands like Dave Matthews, Phish and The Grateful Dead, none of whom I would go/have gone to see if they played a free concert in my backyard.

It doesn’t matter so much what is “good” and what is not. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to wrestle that definition in to some sort of consensus. What we’re left with most often is what we like. If enough of us like something, it will last.

So, bring it on, world. Take your best shot. I won’t say it isn’t going to sting along the way, but I will take the punches and keep right on moving.

I hope you like my songs.

* Shawn Colvin, “I Don’t Know Why”