recorded in 2009.
recorded in 2009.
recorded in 2009.
recorded in 2004.
today, tapebox tuesday brings you "piano", from 2014.
for as long as i've been writing songs and recording music, the process has almost always served as a necessary outlet for emotional release and self-examination. i'm not a religious person, but in some ways it can take on certain devotional characteristics: it can focus me, it can motivate me, it can teach me things i didn't know about myself. it can rejuvenate me when i feel spent. it can find me when i get lost.
the majority of my songs actually start out as piano compositions, which is ironic given that i never really learned how to play piano, technically-- i'm self-taught, and in such a way that i assume most piano players would scoff at. i play everything by ear, and in a fairly simplistic style. mostly just chords.
my songs generally start on piano because it's easier to find the subtleties of sound there, for me. the keys on a piano are somehow more accessible than the strings on a guitar, even in the limited capacity in which i play them. but through that simple understanding of the keyboard, i have found a surprisingly deep connection to my creativity, and it's been an invaluable asset to me. a stabilizing force in an unstable world.
i bring all of this up because the years from 2012 to 2015 were difficult for me. there were a lot of reasons, none of which really bear going into here, but suffice to say that it was a tough stretch of time. and during that tough stretch of time, things were worsened for me by a strained-- and at times impassable-- relationship to my music.
Beginning late in 2013, and throughout 2014, i was really at a loss. i wrote music, but it was angry music. it was frustrated music. it was music that was full of uncertainty, and hopelessness, and discord, and bitterness. and, perhaps not coincidentally, it was almost all written on the guitar. don't misunderstand-- i have a long, and affectionate history with my guitars. but it's just... different, somehow. i had really come to think of composing music on the piano as the purest way to reach into wherever it is that music comes from, even if the songs might ultimately end up being recorded with guitars-- the composing happened on my piano. but i had just stopped doing it. for nearly 2 years, i didn't.
so today's clip, "piano", was the first thing i wrote when i finally did decide to go back to my piano and try to make amends. it's about as simple a progression as you'll find, but that's not really the point-- it was a statement of re-connection; an admission of longing to go back to making music the way i had always made what i considered to be my best music-- quietly, thoughtfully, at my piano.
when i was about 7 my dad bought me a baritone ukulele at a yard sale, which i mistakenly thought was a guitar. i remember trying to play elvis songs on it, which must have been very painful for everyone within earshot. but from that point on, i've pretty much always had a ukulele around. it's mostly for the joy of aimless little tunes that go nowhere, but which are fun to play.
"capo ferro", from 2016, is just another one of those aimless tunes; in this case, recorded on an iphone.
this clip from 2007 doesn't have an actual title. i record a lot of things that never really end up being proper songs; they're just little pieces that i put down on tape, perhaps with the intention of going back and improving/completing them at some later date... but then, i never really do.
i think of these things a lot like when a graphic artist doodles in their sketch book-- it's not intended to be a serious piece of work, but sometimes serendipity lends a hand and you end up stumbling across something neat. not every time, but sometimes.
for many years, i kept a guitar and a little vox "pathfinder" amp next to my bed along with a mono tape recorder in case i thought of anything worth recording, but didn't feel like like setting up all of my normal recording gear. i don't remember specifically, but this clip feels like one of those recordings-- probably made in the middle of the night, for no particular reason.
from an old journal:
sometimes the most difficult thing in this life is finding yourself in a situation where you care so desperately for someone who has to push you away because of internal forces that they have no control over.
if we’re wise (lucky?) we may be able to forgive, but it’s hard to forget.
"so low" was originally written and recorded in 2004, then re-recorded in 2008 with revised lyrics and some changes to the structure. the clip presented here is from the 2008 re-recording.
i don't really have any recollection of any specific events or situations inspiring this song; like so many of them, it's just another tune. i would assume that it was kind of a thing where i had some chords, and then filled in nondescript lyrics as i went.
i don't often re-visit a song once it's been finished, although it may go through several iterations during the initial writing/recording process (meaning that there are many songs which have different versions, but they were generally all recorded in quick succession during the same span of time). that said, there are a few instances where a song bothers me enough after the fact that i will go back and try again, sometimes years later — "so low" is an example of this.
the original version was slower, and seemed to lack momentum; so i changed the tempo and added the repeating chorus at the end ("rounds") to give it more impact. it's a novelty, but it worked pretty well in this case.