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Progress Update #57

So, as you might have noticed by now, the "Some Quarantine Music" sessions dried up quite awhile ago. Sorry about that.

At the beginning of quarantine, making those videos was really helpful for providing me with a sense of purpose during a strange, bad time, when I spent pretty much all of the rest of each day sitting in front of a computer, alternating between participating in meetings over Zoom and recording videos and/or lectures for my classes. In making them, I learned my own songs a bit better, I had some fun with some cover songs, and I learned a lot about using kdenlive to edit video. Most of all, though, I found a way to distract myself from the reality that things outside the window were deteriorating rapidly.

I was digging in for the long haul, I told myself, but I don't think, in my heart of hearts, I ever believed we'd still be at it in July. I should have, but I didn't. And, judging by all the other livestreaming artists I drew the inspiration for Some Quarantine Music from throughout March and April, I wasn't the only one: all of them have stopped regularly livestreaming since.

Making those videos was comforting when I was able to imagine the disruptions COVID-19 caused in my and others' lives as an interregnum. As more time passed, and I made more videos, and things just kept getting worse, each new video felt less like part of a project meant to pass the time until normalcy reasserted itself and more like a reminder that the world we live in now likely is the new normal. In that context, the project stopped being comforting, so I stopped doing it.

For awhile, I took some online "how to solo" guitar lessons. It was fun. I've never taken guitar lessons before, so I learned some things I can hopefully apply the next time I sit down to write new songs. First, I still have to finish Triptych (more on that in a minute).

Eventually, the guitar lessons became hard to keep up with. Like most of my attempts to complete long-term projects during COVID-19, staying focused started feeling like walking on ice: it felt nearly impossible to get my footing, and the harder I tried, the harder I would fall when I eventually, inevitably slipped. Does anyone else feel that way lately? I hope so, and I hope not.

Fortunately, right about the time the school year ended, trails and wildernesses in Oregon opened up. I expected the decision to take up my usual amount of hiking and adventuring come summer to feel more fraught, but Lindsey and I have been the only (or nearly the only) people on every trail we've hiked. I made an attempt on Shasta, on a Friday, and even then I only saw one other couple on the entire east face of the mountain. I'll be honest: being in nature lately, when it's possible to do responsibly (which is almost always in southern Oregon and northern California because there just aren't that many people) has been way better for me than working. And that's mainly why Triptych, though hanging right on the precipice of being finished, isn't finished yet.

I'll give you the numbers in another post, because this one's already long as-is, but all the songs are done, recorded, and mixed, except one, which I'm still writing. It's the title track for the album Fire and Rain, and it's...well, it's ambitious. It's a song about personal and global apocalypses, and I want it to have a lot of words. It might still take a little while to finish it, though frankly it feels like the perfect time to write a song like this. When I first wrote the music, about a year ago, it was going to be a song about the different ways in which the world ends for different people...then the end of the world (or what sometimes feels like it) got here first. So...we'll see how it turns out, I guess.

Everything else for the albums is done, up to and including the cover art and such, but right now just existing, just trying to get out there into the world a bit for myself and a bit for the people for whom I can do some good, seems a lot more important than some albums only a few people will listen to anyway.

Put another way: writing, recording, and mixing these songs over the last few years has been incredibly important and meaningful to me, but so have a lot of other things that now seem a little silly in retrospect. Not to say the songs are silly, not to say I won't finish them, but just to say that I'll finish them in a way that makes more sense to me in this changed world we're living in than the way that I started them. In that way, they'll be creations from two worlds, I guess, and it seems appropriate that "Fire and Rain" is the last song I have left to write.

Anyway, more news as I have it. Take care out there.


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