Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Importance of Forgetting songs.

after my recounting of that argument I had with Matt, I had an interesting realisation regarding my writing process. I'm someone who writes songs, and then leaves them never to be heard. I've forgotten more songs than most bands have. That's not a qualitative analysis, doesn't make me any better, just different.

Tonight I played 6 songs. Two of which I have distinct parts to, and the other four which I made up on the spot. 3 of those made up ones were relatively good. I didn't record any of this, and I can't remember the four I made up.

These were complete songs, with lyrics and full construction an everything, but I won't ever play them again because I can't remember them. Not a single part of them has survived except whatever has gotten into my brain.

That's why the whole forgetting of a song doesn't bother me. I do it every night. I have hundreds of songs I'll never play again. Most of them are what I think of as songs for the moment. Some of them are only good once, because they are so heavily tied to whatever time I wrote them at.

One of the songs I wrote was a song to that girl I can't get out of my head. It had some clever and yearning lyrics. It's good that she won't hear it. It made me feel a bit better about the whole thing too.

That's a lot of what these songs I do by myself are for. What I'd really like Exactly to do is to just do songs like that and just be together enough that we can do performances where the songs are never the same. Just whatever we do right then, and whatever lyrics come out of my mouth. I've gotten good at just blurting out these things over all this time that I write songs most nights.

I can just produce a song if you give me my loop pedal and a guitar. 9 out of 10 times the songs are good, and that's better than the hit and miss ratio of most bands pre written songs, so I feel good about it. I guess sometimes I lament the loss of good songs that I should have recorded, but as I said before, all the songs I forget are scrapped for parts. So I have the good things from songs I've forgotten and those good things go towards my new songs. It's a lot like the Improvisational methods and improv practices of really good jazz musicians. There are things that they pick up on from prior improvisations that make their solos better.

Each song, and each solo, though done on the spot, is actually the product of many different solos played and forgotten. All those lines one's heard and played and taken note of influence the parts that they play. My guitar parts don't all sound the same because I have so many old ones to work from. The things that were good about my old songs come out, and the things that were bad gradually get filtered away.

That's the logic of the songs I just make up on the spot.

The lyrics are another thing. I'm unproven when it comes to that sort of improvisation on stage, but in my room (for all that that's worth) I tend to be pretty good at putting together interesting melodies and lyrics. Sometimes quite affecting, Often with a cogent theme. That's something that could be told from the times I have recorded things.

I like that method of loosing things. That's why Matt's worry about it doesn't resonate with me. Loosing songs, and having all of this material that will never be heard is just part of my process. It's somewhat a part of a lot of musician's process.

That's one thing I like about what we do with Osabear, we record the random songs we just make up, but we throw away most of it, so the interesting things from the old songs can be taken up and used again. That's probably the reason I've stuck with it, besides the performance of good songs we already have.

The whole point is that loosing a song isn't something that bothers me. It's not quite like having something you want to figure out on the tip of your tongue but not quite out, it's more like having all these cool ideas just below the surface waiting for the right stimulus to pull them out.

No comments: