Self Inflicted Wounds

Statistically speaking, I am approaching the half way point of my life. During my time here, I have quit a lot of stuff. Most of the time, my life becomes better due to the quitting. Some of the things that I quit, I wish I hadn’t. I used to love to run, but I can’t seem to make the time for it anymore. Typically, I am a cold turkey quitter. The thing that I have quit the most number of times is music. I quit again today. I have been planning a short Christmas record. It’s only three songs, it shouldn’t be that hard. Things got overwhelming. So, I decided to pack it up and go home. I will convey all the gory details surrounding the Lost Cause Christmas. But first, I wish to diminish your anxiety and set your minds at ease. Don’t worry, the quitting didn’t stick. I started back up again. I am still Brother Jack.

Here are the promised details of this Christmas fiasco. If you are making a Christmas record and you want it to be ready for Christmas, all recording should be finished in July. That is a pretty standard music industry rule. I’ve never been good with rules. I had some studio issues which I documented extensively in a previous blog post.  I would link to it here but I can’t find it.  I don’t feel like rehashing the whole story.    The one sentence version is as follows: Due to some technological changes beyond my control, my previous studio setup became obsolete.  I put together enough cash to replace my old mixer in early September. I promptly had a session with my drummer and we hashed out necessary parts. After our initial and singular practice, I got too busy to followup. If we start recording on Monday, it will allow three weeks to get all parts recorded, mixed, and mastered. Somewhere along the way, we will need promo photos and album artwork. Also, the giant stack of bureaucratic paperwork won’t take care of itself. Then the whole thing has to be submitted for distribution and it’s all out of my hands. With any luck, it could be posted in time for the holiday season. Any fires that pop up will need to be put out. This whole thing is not very realistic.

I started recording some scratch guitar tracks at the end of last week. The new mixer required new software, for which I had not planned. Of course, it was not free and I did not know how to use it. When I finally got everything functioning, I started again. Over the weekend, I played an awesome fall festival with the band but unfortunately this put my guitar in a state that required a complete overhaul. I got started again. When listening back to my initial recordings, I discovered that my old standard microphone setup sounded terrible with the new mixer’s preamps. I had to experiment with a couple different setups until I found something that worked. The best time for me to work in the studio is during the twins nap time. They decided to take turns going without a nap for three consecutive days. Once I had conquered the failed studio, refurbished the guitar, learned a completely new system, reorganized the room, and got the babies to sleep like angels, we were finally ready to start again. A construction crew showed up to jackhammer the sidewalk right outside the studio. I squeezed out fifteen minutes between the jackhammers and when the monsters woke up. It was long enough to get through the rough tracks. I finally got something accomplished and was feeling relatively happy with the progress. When preparing to do vocals, I found that I had skipped the turnaround between the first chorus and the second verse. This arrangement would not work and there was no way to bring the vocals back in smoothly. I needed to start from scratch, again. When I faced the idea of starting over for the 8th time, I quit music forever. I sat on the porch and watched the birds getting ready for winter. The wind blew and you could feel that it was finally going to be fall. I came back inside, hung out with my family, and pushed this project completely out of mind. All the negative voices shut up. They all left because I had quit. It was a clean slate. My brain was quiet. It was freedom. Through the new found silence, I clearly heard how these songs should sound. If I don’t make this, nobody else will ever hear it. So, I started again.

The moral of the story is that all my problems are self inflicted. If I had started in July, I would still have had the same problems but I would have had more time to figure them out. I wouldn’t have been as stressed because the deadline would be farther away. Maybe the deadline helps make it feel important. I will put in a lot of work and energy and I will convince other people to contribute and give up their time. Against all odds, we will pull it off. We will put it all together and there is a decent chance that no one will notice. I might introduce all this unnecessary drama because I am afraid that is the only way to make it feel important. It’s a safeguard to ensure that, if nobody notices this thing I made, it won’t get me down. Who needs a shrink when you’ve got a blog. If you are thinking of quitting something important and you need someone to talk to, let me know. I don’t have any wisdom to impart but I will try to be a good listener.

*update: We tracked the drums last night and I will setup to record banjo as soon as I post this.

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