For a lot of things people need plans. Sometimes creativity needs a plan too. A lot of the time creativity needs a spur of the moment desire to forgive being perfect on the first attempt. As adventurous as I am I’ve generally been pretty guarded about my singing and creating a new melody on a song I’m writing for myself. When co-writing I generally don’t open my mouth on a melody. I’ll usually allow it to develop with the other writer then interject. I like to let them flow then guide.
Last week, I was a writing with a new co-writer out of Nashville via Skype. I was substantially different for me. I grabbed my guitar after listening to his idea and decided to take it somewhere completely different. As soon as I did, and started to plow thru the rough idea I had in my head for a vibe to the melody, something changed. I suddenly sat in a seat where I was molding a melody in front of someone. Not something I’ve ever been comfortable doing. But as I kept going thru it, he was guiding me. Much like I guide others. Then I would interject and change something else (something most co-writers never do when I’m guiding them). It resulted in what I think is an extremely strong melody for a verse.
It also led into how we’d approach the rest of the song. It was great to get that kind of freedom and not feel like I was guarded and about to be let down.
I got a little dose of reality thru someone else’s eyes last night. I’ve been in an acting workshop at the behest of a manager/friend. In there I’m generally doing nothing but being myself and for some reason it seems be brilliant ‘work’ as an actor. I don’t get it, cause I literally feel like I’m only being me and I’m not acting. But if the teacher is as good as she is at what she does, then I’m not gonna dispute it.
In last nights class I did run into a little snag that has to do with eating on camera. It took 3 takes for me to get it right. The first take was too big a bite, however I’m a rather tall guy so what is normal too me looks big to others. Because of the direction I got, in the 2nd take I ended up with too small a bite and then freezing. It’s hard to eat when you’re conscious about what it’s supposed to look like. In the 3rd take I was able to take a smaller bite and then not think too much and it worked. Compared to the other students I had relatively few takes (which is the norm it seems).
Of the other students, there was one in particular who the teacher specifically mentioned was a perfectionist and told her to stop being a perfectionist before getting it out. Otherwise you end up second guessing everything, over thinking it, and then taking forever to get it right. Great advice. The same holds true for music. While you have to focus a little on the task at hand, a musician has to constantly think about what’s next and not about what’s now and what has already happened.
In the midst of class I got a text from a friend saying, come on over for an impromptu dinner party. Of course I was in class. When I got out I texted her back and was asked to still come over for some food and a jam. So I did. I had no plans other than to go work on tunes.
I get there and meet a slew of people that I didn’t know. Always fun. Turns out several were musicians, but one in particular is a guitarist that I hadn’t met, but he had my album and knew who I was (good for the ego). We chatted about all kinds of things. Then another musician showed up, who again remembered me from meeting sometime in the past. It took me a long time to remember how I might have known him. By the end of the evening, I think we figured it out.
The jam was more like a song circle where people were taking turns playing tunes. The hostess injected at one point and specifically asked me to play out of turn I thought. So I graciously took a guitar. I played a cover of I Want You To Want Me to get everyone involved. Then she requested one of my songs Falling In. Everyone was having a good time. It’s extremely flattering when you’ve got other talented musicians making remarks about how much they love your voice and/or songs. It’s also a great support net for those that aren’t as good and are struggling with songs as they play them.
The other super talent, the one that felt he had met me before, was Niles Rivers. Excellent songs and great voice. The only thing I was really hoping for out of him in terms of a performance was for him to open his eyes. Ever single song was him staring at his hands and then closing his eyes. Very little eye contact to the audience. I know it’s hard for some artists/performers to connect to small audiences, or audiences at all. But it’s a very key thing and I felt it last night – it stood out very clearly to me after listening to that John Mayer lecture from a couple of days ago.
I think the whole thing about living on a moment can also be summed up in creating happiness with someone you’re attracted to as well. Which is the subject of today’s Single of the Day by Lifehouse. In case you haven’t been reading a lot of posts at SOTD, I’ve got a connection to the Lifehouse. While I’ve never met the band, I know their live guitar player Benny. Benny is a friend thru Jeff Soto. Benny played some guitar things on my Christmas project released late last year.
The idea of how life can change at any passing moment is part of the idea flowing in the lyrics of this song. Though it is directly being related to a relationship between two people where one is definitely in love. However it can apply to anything in life. It’s that whole going with instincts on the spur of a moment.
What else happened on the spur of the moment yesterday? I got a call in the mid morning from a good friend that I hadn’t seen in a while. He was near my home and studio. Wanted to come over. Thus I said sure, despite the fact that I had a recording session going on. It worked out. He hung out while the co-writer was directing a rapper on a section of the song. Then as it turns out we hired him to play bass as he’s a phenomenal bassist. His name is Jesse Stern.
During the session we took a break to go get lunch. At lunch Jesse said something rather interesting, that proved to be even more poignant later (with the re-meeting of Niles as Jesse is the link where Niles met before). Jesse mentioned that I’m like the six degrees of Kevin Bacon for the music industry. Only he called it, the six degrees of Jody Whitesides. Myself, my co-writer and Jesse all got a pretty good laugh out of that during lunch. Now that I think about it…
Anyway, there’s a whole lot of aspects that I dig about this song by Lifehouse. One of the big ones is that there a lot of layers in the sounds. With unconventional instruments and even some unconventional sounds. I’m thinking that I actually hear a motorcycle sample that is tweaked with some pitch changes. I could be wrong. But it provides a bunch of that ear candy that keeps the listener hanging in the song.
I’m sure at some point I’ll actually meet the guys in the band and hang out. Until then I’ll gladly support them. I know they’re pretty big, but hey, every little bit can help. Are you a Lifehouse fan?