So here we are. I have to say I’m a bit numb. I just mastered the song and all that’s left is to write this blog entry. I had high hopes of writing a nice reflection on the year, sharing some of my key insights and takeaways. But now I’m not so sure. I actually got choked up typing the file name – “LettingGo_FinalMaster_Dec28_2013.wav” - as I got ready to record it to disk. I’ll just do the best with this as I can.
I’ve known for about a month that I wanted my last 52 in 52 song to be about the bittersweet feelings we experience as one thing ends and something new begins. That’s about all I had to go on when I sat down to write early last Sunday morning. I quickly had some chords and a melody idea and as I started on the lyrics, I found myself writing this farewell to the 52 in 52 project as if I were saying goodbye to a friend. It was a very emotional session which struck me as funny because I’ve been counting the days until this would be over since about Week 3. I’ve actually been pretty desperate for this to end. And there I was getting choked up.
I spent a few more sessions before Christmas tweaking the lyrics but interestingly none of those sessions was as emotional as that first one. Of course, the distraction of Christmas preparation and celebration no doubt played a role in that. (A belated Merry Christmas, by the way.) Anyhow, once the holiday was over, my focus turned to finishing up the song. And in a way, I just fell back on muscle memory. It felt like any other week. And I kept telling myself that it was just another week, because I was afraid I’d be tempted to procrastinate, telling myself, ‘Well, technically I have until New Year’s Eve so I don’t really need to finish #52 up on Saturday.’ As you may have learned about me from these blog entries, I struggle with procrastination.
Essentially, Thursday through Saturday morning felt like so many other weeks this year. I had the usual anxiety around whether the song would be any good (or just not awful), whether I’d be able to play the simple guitar part (the minute I hit record, I’m all thumbs), whether my voice would hold up, etc. And even through the final stages on Saturday morning, it was just another 52 in 52 song. That is until I typed the file name and hit enter. Listening back (through headphones at that point) it hit me that this was it. (Cue the lump in the throat, etc.) Now this certainly isn’t the last song I’ll ever release or the last blog entry I’ll ever write but this is the last of my ‘little songwriting adventure’. Definitely bittersweet. What an adventure it has been.
As for insights, what can I say? It’s been quite the year. I don’t know how much better a songwriter I am, but I’m certainly a more confident songwriter than I was a year ago. Conversely, I’m a much less confident guitar player than I was a year ago. That’s sort of the paradox of spending so much time writing and recording (and writing blog entries). I’ve spent much less time just playing the guitar. Getting back to it is a very high priority in 2014 as is trying to find some outlets for performing.
I’ve certainly become more comfortable with Pro Tools although I feel like I’m just scratching the surface of what that program can do. One of the frustrating things about this year was that - given the quick turnaround each week - I didn’t have time for the experimentation and playing around that I think is necessary to really learn the ins and out of the software. I’m looking forward to doing some deep dives in the coming year, and along with it really starting to refine my hearing.
I know that I didn’t make the best use of the internet in terms of promoting this project. There are probably dozens of songwriting forums where I should have tried to connect with others and let them know about what I was doing. It’s unfortunate but I simply didn’t have the time. One of my pledges going forward is to make better use of the internet in trying to grow my audience. There are so many tools available to independent musicians and making use of them is almost as important as writing and recording songs.
As for any takeaways that might apply to the non-musical parts of my life, this whole exercise has been a great example for me of the power of setting your mind to something, of setting a goal and sticking to it. I’ve already started formulating smaller goals for other areas of my life, telling myself, ‘If you completed 52 in 52, then you can do this.’ We’ll see how that goes, Mr. Procrastination.
I’m sure that in the days and weeks to follow, I’ll think of many other things I should have shared with you in this year’s final blog entry. Unfortunately, I hadn’t sketched anything out ahead of time, so you’re stuck with what I can come up with on the spot. And as I said in that first paragraph, I’m a bit numb.
So let me just wrap up by saying, ‘Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!’ You have been such a critical part of my reaching this goal. Knowing that there was an audience for these songs, that people were listening and reading and caring, it all contributed to my getting here.
I will be taking a short break but I’ll be back writing soon. As for recording and releasing, I’m not sure how frequently I’ll be doing the homegrown stuff. We will see. I am hoping to do some professional recording in the not-too-distant future and you will hear all about it when it happens. I guess the bottom line is that I need a bit of time to get some perspective so that I can set the course for my post-52 in 52 musical life. I’m thinking that the priorities will be – in order – becoming a better songwriter, a better instrumentalist, and finally a better technician (or however you want to describe the producer/engineer hat).
If you’d like to be kept informed of things as they happen, then please be sure you’re on my mailing list. If you aren’t, you can join it via the envelope icon on the right side of this web page. That way, you can continue to follow my musical adventures wherever they lead. I won’t be sending out a weekly newsletter but I might try keeping to a monthly schedule. I’m thinking it will push me to keep on task with things so that I can justify the monthly updates. If it any time you’d like to get in touch with me, just use the ‘contact’ link on this website. It’s very simple.
I guess that does it for now. Happy New Year to you all! And if you’ll just indulge me one last time…
Thanks for following and have a great week!