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.

Welcome, Species

On the first post of this new blog, I’d like to say thanks for reading, and for coming back to a site that has often been non-existant.

I’ve deleted and recreated many, many times. Something will happen — say, I go to SXSW and see that everyone is 21 and skinny — and I’ll decide I’m an inadequate imposter, and boom, site deleted. Then something else will happen — a comment on a Youtube video from someone on the other side of the world — and the site goes back up. This time, I hope it sticks.

Speaking of being an imposter:

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts about creativity lately; Rhett Miller’s Wheels Off, Aimee Man and Ted Leo’s The Art of Process, and most recently, Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, which isn’t inherently about creativity. A common subject in at least the first two is Imposter Syndrome, “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success” (reference). I can’t say I’ve had zero success, but it has been only minor success — in my eyes, anyway.

Anyway. The goal here is to decide I’m not an imposter — I’m just my own species. That’s something I’ve thought about lately in terms of body image: maybe everyone is just their own species, and like a poodle and whale, could never be expected to look like each other. Maybe the same could be true of music, and musicians.

So, welcome, Unique Species, from another. Thanks for leaning your antennae or series of ears my way.