Listening back

Like many people, creative or otherwise, I’m so often snagged by self-doubt, feeling like an imposter — and that perhaps I should never write songs again, and what’s more, never should have. I listen back to my own music, and can’t help but hear it through a layer of comparison and mental sludge.

Then this morning, listening to Malcolm Gladwell interview Rick Rubin (link), they had the following exchange:

Malcolm Gladwell: Do you ever go back and listen to the music you played at that age?

Rick Rubin: I do not .. I haven’t in a long time … I don’t honestly listen back to music i’ve worked on at any point … just kind of moving forward … I also think when you put a lot of time into something, you’ve already spent that time with it. It’s like if you spent a thousand hours on a book, you don’t want to spend more time … So we work on it for a long time, and by the time it’s done, it’s done.

I heard that and minutes later was at my computer recreating this website (see previous post).

What if:

  • We can leave our music of the past completely behind?
  • … and in doing so, open the doors to making whatever comes next, the slate completely clean, with new “time” that isn’t being stolen by listening back?
  • And what if I could manage to not think of all my music as a quantifiable “body of work” and a collective argument about why I’ve always been a terrible songwriter and musician?
  • … and instead, when I have a new idea, it can just be a new thing I felt like doing, after which I can treat myself once again to that judgement-free clean slate?
  • And what if it all doesn’t even have to be songs?

That would be something.

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