This week’s newly finished recording is “Write Me Off.”
This is part of the “Sinking and the Aftermath” project; the story of my utter irresponsibility in not finishing these songs (from 1999-2000) earlier is told here.
This is one of my favorite songs of those I’ve written, and it’s gone around my head quite regularly in the 10 years since I wrote and partially recorded it. Why did I not finish it? Why is this blog even necessary? Well, perfectionism, for one. It’s easy to find excuses not to finish things when, in this case, you envision a full choir singing the goofy “ba-ba-ba-bah” backing vocals. I also only recently got a steel-stringed acoustic guitar in my house this year (and still don’t have a really adequate electric setup, though I’ll try to overcome that for one of the next weeks), and my classical just wouldn’t cut it on this one.
The other reason is also the main theme of the song, i.e. frustration with the absolute (or, OK, relative) indifference of any substantial number of people to whether any of my music gets made or not. Like most of my songs, the lyrics to this express some momentary, extreme sentiment that I captured and wrote down in all its snarly, pathetic glory. And yet, one of the reasons it’s been so resonant with me is the number of times when something like that sentiment recurs. Just like there’s a canon of philosophers and I feel like people look for any excuse with a newly heard-of figure to disregard that person so that they don’t have to expend the energy learning about him, the same thing goes on in popular music, and even I am no exception to this celebrity culture mindset.
What remains when you try to get past insecurity about the quality of your creative output is first, pleasing yourself, which is great and necessary, but doesn’t necessarily consistently motivate the great effort required to have a constant creative stream running over the majority of your life, and second, sharing with others: The immediate impetus for this song was discovering that a CD (that I’d worked my ass off to create) that I’d given to someone who I know was into music and whose approval I apparently sought had been sitting in his drawer unlistened to for like a year after I gave it to him.
Ultimately, the song is about whether you care what other people think of you or not, and as independent and self-assured as you’d like to see yourself as, it’s still pretty galling to be written off in the face of your best efforts. So there you go.