clap clap blog: we have moved

Monday, May 17, 2004
I guess I'd written before about it and been told that, basically, I'm quite obviously the exception rather than the rule, but I was still have a hard time getting my head around the new rash of postings about being overwhelmed by the amount of music to listen to. (More responses here and here.) But then I guess it clicked today when I reconsidered Jon's description of the problem as, in part, "a type of anxiety over the amount of fantastic art, music etc out there, the fact I have missed out on so much, the thought that potentialy my favourite track is only out there..."

Ah yes! I hear you now, chapperoos. I used to get this feeling a lot in my earlier years (I also used to get this feeling about girls, but I don't anymore at all, thankfully!), mainly when I suddenly came across a whole new cache of music I liked that I hadn't even known about before but that a whole lot of other people seemed to already be familiar with ("Britwha? Indie who? Digital hardwhuzza?"), and, while I still get this feeling sometimes--mainly in regards to hip-hop, actually--it's largely gone now, because, I think, it was mostly attributable to me not knowing what sources were out there to find out about new music; I started reading the NME online and, somewhat embarassingly, it was like someone let me into the VIP section. But at this point, I feel that with the blogs and the magazines and the A&R submissions and everything else, I have a pretty good shot at at least being able to sniff out profitable directions, and since I don't care about being the first to find out about something, I figure that if there's something I'd really like, someone will point it my way sooner or later. In the meantime, I can always listen to this other stuff I have that I like.

However, I now realize what feeling in me this particular anxiety perfectly mirrors: the creative process. I come up with a lot of little bits of ideas and melodies and sounds, and I get a little obsessive sometimes about documenting all of them (although I have been lax and unorganized of late, sigh). Because you never can tell with a bit, can you, if it's going to develop into something killer or not. Sure, sometimes you have a pretty good idea, and on rare occasions your feeling is correct. (Usually it's not, but in the meantime you get to be all excited about it, which is nice.) But by and large, you just need to get everything down there in case it turns out to be great. Of course, the problem is that often once the intial shock of discovery wears off, it's off into the aether, and so if you don't write it down it's not going to reappear in a garage sale crate in 20 years to give you a burst of joy.

Well, sorta. Arguably I don't need to write these things down (presumably many musicians don't) because they came from something, and that something is me; all the source elements are still there, and they could reuninte later just as easily, especially once the riff is in the fingers or the idea's in the noggin. Things come out later in different forms, even when you don't want them to ("Oh, is that just like that bit from that other song I wrote? Oops."). Maybe I shouldn't be writing all those bits down, to let them germinate more organically, man. But ah, of course, the bit itself is not so important as what it gets combined with, and this is of course the whole point of writing them down in the first place: to give them the opportunity to move beyond the original creation situation. Because what if I forget a riff but it would have been the perfect hook for this melody I came up with three weeks later? A top 10 hit is merely a college radio staple, and I'm downgraded from a Benz to a beater. Seriously, though: it is an interesting thing to do on occasion, to let a bit slide, because I'm planning on doing this sort of "creatin' stuff" thing for a long time, and I recognize that my life situation, my point of view, and my interests are going to change, so even given some of the same bits, the way I write a song or a story or an essay now would be much different if I was writing it in twenty years. You never know...