Monday, August 29, 2011

until that morning

It's midnight in Atlanta. I'm sitting in the "living room" at a mixing studio, which consists of a table with three chairs, and a couch facing a blank orange wall. Mixing a record is monotonous and maddening simultaneously, and also really fun and exciting. At least, fun and exciting for me; of course, I am usually in the other room while Damien mixes. He's been working on the same song for three hours.

To reset my ears, between sessions, I've been listening to Sam Cooke's greatest hits. The nights are hot and sultry down here, and after many years of sitting on the fence, I've finally settled on my favorite version of "Summertime".

Friday, August 12, 2011

on living a creative life

“We can never be born enough. We are human beings; for whom birth is a supremely welcome mystery, the mystery of growing: the mystery which happens only and whenever we are faithful to ourselves." - e. e. cummings

Liz Gilbert, who has done a lot of very inspired writing, observes in this TED talk (one of my favorite things on the whole internet) that considering an artist responsible for the quality of her own work, rather than leaving that responsibility to the gods/muses/daemons, may be a grave mistake.

This is a tremendously comforting concept for me, and I imagine it's the same for every creative person (and by that I mean every person). It means that my job is not to create. My job is to remain inspired, so that my heart will be open to the creative force.

For me, remaining inspired requires being honest, growing personally, feeling passionately, and having adventures. It generally requires a deep and vibrant experience of music, poetry, sensuality, and/or love. It absolutely requires continually becoming the person I want to be, at risk of facing fears, disappointing people, and breaking with convention.

By choosing to live a creative life, I have made a commitment to my muse: she is always welcome in my house. That means that I will remain open to inspiration at all times, regardless of what I might have to sacrifice to do so. So far, I have only had to sacrifice money, security, and routine, all of which I am lucky enough to have no taste for.

I believe in muses of the arts, but also of science, childcare, computer programming, baking, dog training, and human relationships. It's my strong suspicion that everyone has a muse, and that everyone - somewhere deep inside themselves - knows what they have to do to invite her into their lives. What have you done for your muse lately?

Monday, August 1, 2011

blissed half to death

Can I make an observation? Doing what you love - "following your bliss" - is a totally insane, preposterous and irrational thing to do. It will make you broke and anxious and periodically suicidally depressed. It will ravage your heart and mind with obsessions and compulsions, until you can't sit down to a polite conversation without gabbing manically about your most recent harebrained pursuit. It will slowly strip you of all social graces, as well as any unrelated interests or concerns you may once have maintained. You will forget to feed yourself, change your clothes, and take out the trash. In effect, you will be transformed into a bumbling, obsessive-compulsive, dirty, penniless maniac, with no regard for society and little contact with reality.

Unfortunately, it is absolutely the only way to live a satisfying life.

I just spent two weeks in Atlanta, making my record. We tracked twelve songs in three days, recording drums, bass, guitars and most of the lead vocals live. We spent another ten days arranging and recording overdubs (backup vocals, guitars, percussion, etcetera). Oliver Wood was with me, sharing in the alternating anguish and euphoria, from the first arrangement ideas to the last tambourine. Oliver is a special kind of saint; the kind that tells dirty jokes and plays the guitar like a mofo.

On the day I turned 26, I left Atlanta and drove south to New Orleans, for a week of high octane mojo-renewal. I had my rough mixes in tow.

To tell you the truth, this project has been absolutely grueling. I've been crazed and harried since mid-May, waking up in the middle of the night to make notes about drum fills, or record background vocal ideas on my iPhone. During the recording, I'm pretty sure I felt the complete range of human emotion in the course of each day. The release date has been moved to January (following the advice of a radio promotion firm), which means I've got another five months of the same to look forward to.

To tell you the truth again, I believe these are the best songs I've ever written, many of the best players I've ever worked with, and the best singing I've ever gotten on tape. This record is going to be outstanding, and I am fiercely proud of it.

I told you all in my previous post about my plan for the making and release of this record. It's a three-phase process (recording, promotion, and manufacturing). Phase one is now just about complete, and phase two (in which I'll be hiring a big-shot publicity firm and a radio promoter) starts in September.

I mentioned before that folks interested in investing should contact me. To my surprise and delight, I've raised over $20,000 to date in investments from fans. If anyone else is interested in investing in the project, I am open to taking another $10,000 in investments (to be repaid, with interest, over an agreed-upon period after the record is released). Email me ( for details.

If you'd like to contribute in smaller increments, I'm still taking donations as well. Small donations will help A TON by covering unplanned and unpredictable budget items (of which there are always lots).

Thank you, again, for making me crazy.