I have been trying an experiment for the last couple weeks, which I hope to continue for the next few months. . .
I recently found myself getting bogged down in the minutia of songs that are mostly completed. “Perhaps I should invert this chord, or move that one note in the bass line up a fifth, or add one measure of 23/8”. It was getting quite maddening! I listened to the same two tracks over and over again until I would find myself spontaneously bursting out in song to questions like, “Can I use your restroom?” As you might imagine, I have this tendency to be a wee-bit perfectionistic when it comes to music, and as such tend to perseverate on songs until I feel they are “just right”. Unfortunately, to get a song “just right” I would need to focus on it to a point nearing self-abuse. No, not the Freudian definition (sicko!), more like that endured by Manuel Noriega when troops played loud music outside his Palace in an attempt to get him to hand over Panama. While this process has always resulted in music I am happy with and want to listen to, I am finding that it really stifles the creative writing process. As a result, I have created the “Two-week Song Challenge” for myself.
The Two-week Song Challenge is based on a book writing challenge I heard about. In that challenge, aspiring authors are tasked with writing 50,000 words in 30 days, without self-critiquing their work as they write. The idea is to let the creativity flow, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. After the 30 days are up, the budding authors can then go back and see what they have, decide if it’s a keeper and edit, or throw it back.
In this spirit, I have decided to try to write and record one complete song every two weeks for the next few months. The goal is to get these songs to the point where they are “acceptable” rather than “perfect”, and then just move on. Then, after a few months, I will go back through the completed songs, decide which ones should be “perfected”, and do so. My first attempt at this started with a classic prog/rock style song that I am very happy with. The next two week cycle begins this Thursday and I have no idea what will come out. This is very exciting to me as I will again write with no preconceived ideas about how the song should turn out. One thing I am pretty certain about is that these songs will have a heavy prog influence. When I first started writing Judgment I tried very hard to write straight ahead rock songs, but they kept turning out prog. Prog has run in my blood since my first Genesis concert in 1980 and no matter how hard I have tried to move away from it I always end up back there.
Well, wish me luck! Hope fully I will have a lot to show for this experiment soon.