two things

STEW is back on CJAM’s charts, hanging around the top twenty, scaring all the pretty girls. It took me a while to get around to it, but I scanned all the relevant handwritten lyrics and put them on the album page. Just like old times!

Yesterday Steven and I were trying to figure out what a good song would be to put out there as another sneak peak at the O-L West album. There wasn’t enough room on the mixer to dump the one we wanted to check out back on there, but I noticed one of our “afterthoughts” was still on the drive, so i cued it up and we gave it a listen.

It almost knocked us over. Neither one of us remembered it sounding that good — or that close to being finished. So that one should be along pretty soon, once I add a few more things and mix it. I’m going to try and find some good public domain footage for a DIY music video. I’m sure something will turn up. After all, the Internet Archive is a treasure trove of random video goodness.

I think I’ve discovered the perfect number of people for any kind of collaborative project where I don’t just write the songs by myself. The number is two. As soon as more people get involved as anything other than “guests”, things seem to get complicated. But with only one other person, you bypass a lot of the frustrations that can come with having a larger band. You only have yourself and a partner to count on.

There are three of these two-person collaborative projects on the go right now, and I don’t think any of them sound much alike, even though I’m singing and playing a bunch of different things in all three. We get to make the music we want to make, for the sake of making it, and there hasn’t been much pressure on me to play live from anyone (much appreciated).

It’s only coming clear to me now that I’ve somehow found a way to work with other people without doing any of the things I don’t want to do. Putting aside the projects where I’m involved as a writer, I’ve been a pretty big part of Tire Swing Co. and Teenage Geese in the studio. In a live setting they’re both very different creatures, and I have nothing to do with that side of things. The invitation has been there (and again, it’s been appreciated). It’s just that these are people — friends — who understand that playing live isn’t really my thing, and I’d rather stay away from it as much as I can, aside from playing kazoo at the odd album release show.

It’s the best of both worlds for me. I get to go nuts with playing and recording and producing (to the extent that I’m any kind of producer), I get to do it with people I like and who want me to go nuts, and I get to stay kind of invisible while I’m doing it. Someone could see a live show and buy a CD without having any idea I had anything to do with the music at any stage (because how many people take the time to read album liner notes anymore?).

Not that I want to hide the work I’ve done with other singers and writers. I’m proud of that stuff. But I enjoy being able to do all these different things while staying far, far away from the spotlight. Having that weird thing scream in my eyes once was enough. I don’t need to go back there again.

Thought I’d start mixing and remixing some of these otherwise finished ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE songs in the background at the same time all these other things are going on, just because. If for no other reason, whenever I’m able to give that pile of stuff my undivided attention again it’ll lighten the workload a little. Yesterday I was tweaking the mix for a ukulele-driven tune called “Write Your Name on My Skeleton” and thinking, “I really like this song. It’ll be nice when this album is done and a few people actually get to hear it in 2053.”

Here’s something scary: I’ve been picking away at that album for nine years now. NINE YEARS. I’m not sure I’ll know what to do with myself when it’s finished. That’s almost a third of my life right there.

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