Why 365 songs?

I was looking around on the internet for music and music criticism and I wasn’t finding any writing that told me anything about the music.  Then I started wondering what I meant by that.  Being a musician, I wondered what a decent description of the music would be to me.  So about a year ago, I started thinking about a blog that I would like to write.  The first idea I had was a new Indie CD every week.  So I kind of kept my eye open for Indie CD’s that I could write something meaningful about.  No bad criticism.  I didn’t want any bad energy.  Just music that touched me in some way.

I quickly found that it was very difficult to find a CD that I thought was really great all the way through.  I kept looking, and I discovered that there was a lot of bad Indie music.  Then it occurred to me that I am an Indie musician.  I have been discouraged by the mediocrity of my own recordings and performances.  The limitations of technology, time and money.  In some cases really I had to admit that one of the other limitations is talent.  I love writing songs, and I love performing them.  But I am finding since I began writing this that it is useful to point to the place that I belong in the wide variations of quality in music. I am somewhere on the worst side of the middle. There’s probably a lot of music that’s not as good as mine, but my music is pretty mediocre.

The reason I find this worthwhile to point out is that there is one opinion that matters most in the music I find it worthwhile to write about. And that opinion is mine. I have to really be honest about what I think about my music to get to what I really think about other people’s music. I couldn’t write anything significant about the one CD I have compiled out of all of the recording I have done over the years. I could write about 1 or 2 songs though.

So that was how I arrived at the concept that I would write about songs rather than entire CD’s. Then I thought, how in the hell am I going to find 52 new Indie songs to write about in a year. At the time, I was having a hard time finding 1. I just couldn’t figure out what to do with this.

Then on New Year’s Eve of 2008, I was inspired to write about a significant period of my life centered around Baba O’riley by The Who. There were many factors that inspired me to do this, but it was the first thing I wrote around this concept. By the time I was done, I had a challenge before me. Maybe I could write about 1000 significant words about a song every day. I would look for Indie music, but if I failed to find a song in a given day, I could just write about a song that had a big impact on my life.

The idea of writing about my life while writing about the song, or using the song as a soundtrack for significant events in my life just sort of evolved as I started writing. Part of the reason I push further down this particular route is that I have now read a lot of writing about music, new and old, on the internet. Most of it is of the “What I did on my summer vacation…” variety. “I like the music because…” There are some really good music blogs out there, but I wanted my blog to really celebrate the music itself. What would I like someone to say about my music? I would want to know that if they liked it, my music somehow became part of the soundtrack of their life. Because this is what music is to me. It’s not some aural events arranged over time that are either pleasant or unpleasant. They are significant memory markers in the story line that is my life. The songs in my soundtrack are as powerful as distinctive smells that can conjure entire periods of my life in imagery and emotion.

Music is really profoundly important to me. If I am going to take the time to write something about a song, there have to be some rules:

  1. No negativity about the music. This rule can be bent but not at the expense of an artist. I think any of the negativity I have participated in so far has only served to criticize myself and to transcend negativity in the end. Why the hell am I going to listen to something enough to figure out exactly why I hate it. That’s just stupid. If I don’t like it, I’m not going to write about it. Indie musicians and small genre musicians especially don’t need this or snarky jabs at all sorts of aesthetic aspects of significant efforts. Fuck you and your blog about how you hate some Indie record from a band that you label as hipsters and/or scenesters. Go get a guitar and practice 30 hours a week in a studio you pay too much for and drive up and down freeways in a piece of shit car to pay to entertain assholes who go home and write shitty reviews in their blogs. As you can see I feel pretty strongly about no negativity except where it concerns other people’s negativity.
  2. Do my best to render an artistic tribute to the music I am writing about. This is subjective, but I am doing my best.
  3. No bands twice. This is difficult as there are some bands that hit me over and over again over a 15 year period with many incredible songs. And then there are some bands that broke up, but I can write about a song from one of the member’s solo careers.
  4. Write at least 500 words. I have since expanded this rule to try to write 1000 words about each song. I truly didn’t know I had this much to say. This stuff has been kicking around my brain for a long time and it wants out.
  5. Even the old stuff can be new to me. It’s been a good exercise when I am stuck to just get someone to tell me a song to write about. Even if it’s really old. The ideas I have expressed about those songs because of their unique constraints have been kind of surprising.
  6. Try to contact the Indie bands whenever possible to point out that I have written something about them. It’s difficult to get meaningful press for an Indie act. Maybe I can help a little bit.
  7. Links to listen. Links to buy. I have a little flash thing at the top of most of the posts now to listen without downloading it. And all of the posts have a link to buy if I could find one.
  8. No ads. I don’t know how we’re supposed to take Indie credibility seriously when every site dedicated to Indie media is stuffed with corporate ads. This isn’t always the case and there are lots of examples of good uses of ads. Myspace is one of them. I can’t even imagine what would have happened at the birth of punk or hip hop if there had been widespread social networking and free marketing tools like Myspace. But I wonder when we are actually reading stuff that we have all of this visual clutter on the page. I may change my mind about this, because I am not against selling out. All of us sell out every day. But for right now. No ads.

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