Welcome to part one of a new series by local musician Nick Bullock, of the Sound Awake. Stay tuned each month to follow his journey as he tackles writing 52 songs in 52 weeks.
Ideas can be messy, sloppy and stubborn things. By design, the good ones make us uncomfortable. They make us reach. The second I get a good one, I’m immediately pummeled by two very incompatible voices in my head. One says I will rule the world once I see the idea to completion, while the other screams at me to jump ship, because this Titanic is going down. There is no way I am good-capable-talented-funny-serious-responsible-disciplined enough to pull it off, and see this good idea to the finish line, right? On my good days, I usually say fuck it and run head first into what ever fate awaits me at the end of my idea rainbow regardless.
This week marks my fourth week of my biggest artistic challenge to date. I’m releasing my fourth song out of fifty two songs this year. One song per week for an entire year. 52 in 52.
And I should note that I’m very lucky to have two of the best band mates ever to help along the way.
I would be lying if I said to you that this “great” idea wasn’t partially born out of artistic frustration to get “noticed.” Certainly, it was to some degree, and frankly, I think that’s ok. Not that it’s going to work that way, because at the end of the day, there is no guaranatee that anyone will take notice. And, assuming I’m going to see this one through, I have to let go of whatever notions I have about my musical-socio-economic status. We don’t write music to please the masses (well, some of us do), we do it because we need to, it’s part of who we are as creative musicians.
I say partially born because the second I came up with the idea, almost a year ago, I immediately got really excited about all the possibilities. Ideas wouldn’t just be abstract clouds shifting on imaginary landscapes, instead they would leap forward from my pen, my guitar, and my piano and landing in my microphone they would be alive. Maybe I will score for a string section? Maybe I can invite some friends into my studio and we could write together, and record it live? Maybe I can get a horn section, or finally lean cello… probably best to get a real cello player on the session… Point being, I was excited and willing to see if I could rise to the challenge. After all, that’s the magic of a good idea, it invites us to dare, to risk and to progress despite our inevitable stumbling.
Four weeks in and I’m still standing. Not to say that it hasn’t already been stressful, not to say that I’m no longer concerned about what others think of me or my work, and not to say that I still don’t have the demons in my mind shouting that I’m not good enough to pull such a crazy idea off. But i’m still standing, and I’m already learning more about my craft of writing and recording. The funny thing that I’ve found so far, just the act of doing makes me feel more and more capable. By doing, I am becoming what it is my imagination dared to dream up… slowly but surely. To paraphrase Mr. Ira Glass: my skill is catching up with my taste.
Four weeks down, and forty eight to go.