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An on-going project, likely never to end...


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As you longtime members know, I have been writing songs, and posting versions of them here for a few years now. Some horrible stuff and some approaching decent. I wrote my first song at age 47 and I'm now soon turning 53, and I just realized a short while back, that I still don't consider my very first song "done" and that looking to complete songs and recordings is the wrong approach for me. This approach has only lead to dissapointment when my skill level at the time hasn't allowed me to fullfill my intent. So instead,  I have started to look at everything I do as a constant work-in-progress, which will develop as I develop at this wonderful hobby.

With this baby step approach I have been revisiting old songs/recordings for a few months now, trying to polish them to the best of my current abilities. This includes things like changing out vocal sections, revising lyrics, adding percussions and background stuff, improving sound quality with EQ adjustments, adding background vocals , taking stuff out, changing track settings etc etc. Nothing big, just many small changes over a long period of time

I think I recently turned a corner, and songs that I previously saw as underachieving, now have started to sound different to me. It's like the songs, in tiny tiny increments, have started to approach my original vision for them, and that is indeed a very big thing for me. The songs and recordings are not masterpieces, by any stretch of the imagination, but they are all my songs, stuff that I wrote and that matters to me. There are of course lots of stuff still to improve, especially regarding the singing, but the journey continues and the race is not to the swift but to those who keep on running...

Most of the songs are recorded with an old Banner J-45, but unfortunately I can't remember exactly which ones [blink] If you care to browse the songs , have a listen, and perhaps share some feedback. You'll find them below:

Lars

Recordings of my songs

 

Edited by Lars68
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Strangely, I can’t get any of the tracks to play.  (I’m sitting in my car waiting for my wife to come out from her doctor appointment.). I’ll try again later when I’m connected to wifi back home and have some free time.

But, in terms of the ongoing work or creation process.  Beethoven when he was 55 years old and older went back and completed a number of his earlier works and drafts, so he set a good precedent for there being no hang up in doing that.  Personally, with Beethoven as an inspiration, I have gone back and revisited/revised a number of my earlier pieces of music and songs and recrafted them, finished them, combined them, jettisoned lyrics, etc. etc.  I have some music that I started when I was 15 and only recently finished, that I proudly and confidently now play at gigs (when it’s not the pandemic.)   Also, I have pieces from different songs that I wrote that now form new songs that I like better than the original versions or arrangements.  One of the benefits and joys of being older is having a new perspective on things, being more of a craftsman, realizing I can take things to a higher level if I don’t treat my prior creations as cut in stone, but rather just how I wrote it at a prior point my life, not necessarily how I’d write it now, so why not make it relevant and update it rather than put it out to pasture or leave it in a never heard anyway by anyone the way it was before drawer.  Some songs I keep two versions of  in my repertoire to choose from, depending on how I feel.  (Didn’t Dylan have two versions of Forever Young on Planet Waves?  And, countless  authorized bootlegs albums of songs in different stages of being developed?)  

I think it’s cool what you’re doing.  And, obviously so did Beethoven.

QM aka “Jazzman” Jeff

 

Edited by QuestionMark
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There's always Ray Wylie Hubbard as an example of the great second act in life - though I keep reminding myself that one of my very favorite albums ever is Vinicius de Moraes and Baden Powell's 1966 Os Afro Sambas.  Vinicius was in his 50s when they cut that one.  

Breaking away from the pop music world's adoration of adolescence and the youth culture is incredibly liberating, at least for me.  I played a 6 songwriter guitar pull last night that was done as a livestream, and my stuff was ... different.  There was a rocker, a pop songwriter girl, an indie rocker and two country singer/songwriters who produce very commercially viable material - and me, at 59 a Man Without A Genre.  

The truth is, the only way to keep ANY song fresh is to view it as in process.  I've been much happier, musically, since I started acting as if each time I play or sing a song I'm feeling it out all over again.  The results can be surprising - sometimes that leads to little lyrical tweaks, sometimes to radically different tempos or approaches.  

Last year I released my first album, Midnight Sunroom, and sent it out via all the usual streaming services.  It is not setting the world on fire, but then again it's in that little realm of late-night-solo-singer-songwriter-guitarist records, somewhere in the world bounded by Nick Drake's Pink Moon and early Bert Jansch and Hiss Golden Messenger's Bad Debt and early Tallest Man On Earth stuff.  I mention it because it took me a while to realize that recordings I had made while rehearsing for another project were better than the project.  Initially I rejected them because they didn't match the "perfect" template I had in my head for how the songs should sound.   Then I had the radical thought - "if this was someone else's music, and I had no pre-conceived notions of how it should sound, what would I think of it then?"  And then I realized I loved it and had achieved something perhaps better than what I was looking for.

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I think it’s wise to go back and look at, re-record, and revise old songs.  Not only do we find things we can do better with improved playing skills, but we find better ways to say things and we find partially-finished songs that we’d forgotten that look different to us now.   Likewise, songs we rarely play anymore can be brought-to-life with a new perspective.  Keep doing it, Lars!  This is how we learn and improve.

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Lars, I've done 63 original songs, mixing stage for the 64th now. I've selected 24 songs that I want to re-make at some point. I got my home project studio all set, sonicaly speaking, but instead of tracking and mixing, I've been working on playing, singing and a sort of mixing and ear training exercise for the past year trying to get smoother feeling on all fronts. Even to the point of avoiding the studio because I wasn't sure of an approach or even a result I wanted.

Quality-wise, I think it's paying off. However, I've gotten so far behind with the new songs that I've sort of lost focus on going back to do the old ones. Maybe I should alternate.

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Thanks guys for all the reflections!

Yes, I also come to the hobby from two sides. On the one hand, I spend a lot of time just playing and singing songs, while on the other hand, I try to make as good recordings of the songs as I possible can. For me, it is never about one or the other. I wish I was good enough to just write a song, grab my guitar, sit down in front of the mic and hit record. One-take recordings of simultaneous playing and singing, at least to me, is the ultimate form of expression and beats a multi-track recording each time. However, I´m not good enough to pull that off, so instead I have to take the best bits of several recordings and piece them together into a full song. It's my only way to make a recording into a somewhat decent representation of the song potential. Without the multi-track approach, my songs would not exist in ay kind of recorded format.

One more note about the baby-step approach. I have noticed as I keep polishing  songs, I also keep pushing the bar higher and higher regarding what I'm pleased with. I now find areas to improve in songs that I just a few months ago, felt pretty good about. A blessing and a curse… [biggrin]

Lars

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