Waiting: In which we attempt to patiently await the arrival of our sweet baby girl

Waiting…

It’s the waiting that is tough. Knowing what is on the other side (well really having no idea), and waiting.

The every minute, looking at the clock, Christmas morning kind of waiting. We’ve been told the gift is coming, we’ve been told the general time frame, our excitement is primed, and now…

We wait…

How did my parents ever expect us to sleep soundly on Christmas morning when we knew what joy came in the morning?

The anticipation of such joy is an extraordinarily generous cruelty.

Waiting for your life changing bundle of joy, and then being told to relax and be patient. How are patience and relaxation possible in the face of the birth of our daughter?

But I suppose it is exactly that anticipation that we were supposed to be cultivating…

The waiting will make the moments we have with our baby girl all the more precious, but that doesn’t make the waiting any less excruciating…


The Story of My Life by One Direction

As with every song, it’s capturing the intent that makes for a good cover, not capturing the exact notes. In One Direction’s, “Story of my life,” it is all about moving forward while looking backward.  Unrequited love, bitter endings, hope for new loves, and trying to let go of the things holding us down, all are important pieces.

On this song, I really felt like a heartbeat style percussion was important.  With such a personal topic and discussion, it just made sense to me.  Thus, the percussion you hear (aside from the random dog collar sounds) is comprised of a chest pound heartbeat rhythm and a wedding ring tap on a piano bench.

After that, things started to fall into place.  Bass is always a nice addition, and banjo is perfect for the straightahead groove and mumfordsy vibe.  

My wife helped me do the mixing and editing to polish it up a 

 


Riding the line between perfectionism and shipped art

Next week, April 21st to be exact is the deadline for a songwriting competition that I’ll be entering. Once I had chosen the song I was going to enter, I had a problem. The recording I had already made was good, but it wasn’t great. The sounds weren’t clean, the percussion wasn’t tight, and while it conveyed the song, it just wasn’t quite there in a number of ways.

My wife mentioned to me, If this is the song, it’s worth making as awesome as possible. Probably not her exact words, she’ll forgive me if I paraphrase.

As an artist, I live in-between the worlds of being so entirely anal-retentive that I never finish everything, desiring every little detail to be right. But as Seth Godin says, “Real Artists Ship”

Part of being an artist is creating connection, putting yourself out there in a way that might not work. That vulnerability of not being perfect can make art even more beautiful.

But given how great this opportunity is, my wife in telling me to make it great was giving me permission to let my inner perfectionist out of the box a bit. After all, “almost good enough” isn’t really that great. As Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” Or iceberg and ice cube, horse and horsefly, a house and House, M. D.

Or as anybody’s granddaddy would tell them, if it is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

Here’s the link to the finished song: http://youtu.be/1rECy4exWIM
It’s called, “Alabama Heat”


How to write your own Lorde song, or the spectrum of preference and possibility, a beginner’s guide to pop music realism

Ok, so you love Lorde, let’s say you love her music so much, you want to replicate it, while still being able to say that you wrote your own song. Imitation is the purest form of flattery after all, right? Right. First, you’re going to need to make a list. Since I’m still thinking about that lovely panini and tomato soup I had for dinner, I’ll make mine about food.

Your list needs to include things from what I call, “the spectrum of preference and possibility”

Examples:

Something you really just kind of don’t prefer: pinterest recipes that call for cream cheese

Something you are: An amateur home chef

Some things that will or have never happened: the watched pot never boils, I’ve never cooked with truffle oil

It’s really as simple as that. Now you have the basis for your own song. Mix and match, try making one the title/chorus, and then working in the other two. And don’t forget the backbeat.

Here is the beginnings of some Lorde-esque lyrics that I came up with using my spectrum of preference and possibility.

Boiled

I’ve never seen a truffle be so fresh, I drool to Masterchef, and Paula Deen
I’m not proud of my soufflé, In this kitchen at home, we might go to Wendy’s

It’ll never be boiled, with you here watching me
But baby you’ll drool, when you smell this frickasee

Sometimes I don’t enjoy the recipes
I get from pinterest that call for so much cream cheese
I really just cook at home for my wife and baby
But we all know, this food’ll be tasty

But it’ll never be boiled, if you don’t put it on high heat
This kind of shrimp must cook real fast, the leftovers won’t last
It’ll never be boiled, with you here watching me
Baby you’ll drool, let me be your Gordon Ramsay


5 lessons I’ve learned from my Pregnant Wife

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1. Pregnancy changes a woman’s body the way that a dangerous radiation storm changes the body of a super hero. It’s magical, and alarming for her, and she appreciates you picking up heavy things so she doesn’t have to embarrass you with her pregnant super strength

2. Pregnant ladies can’t bend. If you see things laying around that require bending to put away, put that stuff away! She can’t bend with your child clinging to her midsection, and yes, it is a hint.

3. Never tell a pregnant woman she is waddling, she is dancing, even if she is doing “the penguin”

4. When a pregnant lady says she isn’t hungry, start finding food now, unlike my belly, hers no longer stores food. Her body stores a tiny food thief, causing the requirement for a higher metabolism, like The Flash

A footnote on food: Breakfast for dinner is always in order

5. Never say that she is “overly sensitive.” Yes, her emotions, tastes, smells, and touches are enhanced and disorienting. Those sensitive senses are for protecting your unborn child. Call it, “Spidey Sense”

Yes, pregnant women are pretty much superheroes.

Photo courtesy of Alicia Monroe
What is a lesson you have learned from the people you love?


The Birmingham Songwriting Competition

Here’s the link:

http://www.siteline.vendini.com/alys-robinson-stephens-performing-arts-center/asc-commissions-birmingham

If you want to check it out. So I’m going to enter the Birmingham Songwriting competition. I don’t get nervous about a lot of things, but I’m get anxious about this. I’m not entirely certain why, but I’m guessing it has to do with the potential good that can come from it. Right now, what I’m having to remember is this:

The worse that can happen is nothing

If I enter my music in this competition and nothing comes of it, that is all that is happening, nothing. I’m not an über competitive person, but…. I want to win.

I’m trying to figure out ways to boost my shot at it, going so far as writing 3 song instead of just one. I have the first one done….

But I’ve kinda stalled on the other two. Life’s been busy, sure, but I think it is more than that. I think I’ve let my anxiety of the unknown take charge of the process, rather than simply enjoying it. So that is going to be my next step:

I’m going to take charge of the creative process and just do it. I’m really happy with my first song that I’ve written, but rather than comparing the quality of these new compositions, I’m going to make them difficult to compare to one another. I’m hoping to catch multiple possible angles on the competition. Not coming up with slight variations, but true alternatives.

I’m trying to come up with songs that could be entered by multiple different contestants, but they will all be just me.

So we shall see. I’m nervous and excited, and I would love to have my music make an impact on the heritage of this city in which my family lives.

William Stonewall Monroe

PS. The idea of “true alternatives” as a method of problem solving is called “Multi-tracking” and is more fully explored in the book Decisive by the Heath brothers. It is a great book on making decisions and if that’s something you are interested in, I recommend the book. Here is my affiliate link for it, but I wouldn’t commend it if I hadn’t found it useful.


Stuck? Try this.

What do you do when you are stuck?

Solve your little problems when you don’t know where to start. Sometimes you just have a hanger stuck in the door…

Last week we had closet doors installed in our bedroom. Now, I’m not too picky, so when mine didn’t open all the way, I thought, “well that is irritating” and pushed that thought away, choosing to see if the new door just needed to be worked, or if it would stick that way forever…

I’m the slow one in the family. I’ll just admit that right now, so when I saw a hanger on the ground under my closet door I at that moment decided to ignore it, like the not fully opening closet door. Last night though, we were cleaning, and I decided to pick that hanger up and put it away. Magically, the door is now fully functional.

*face*~>*palm*

So the lesson learned?

Solve your little problems. Sometimes they are the source of another problem you may not yet know how to tackle.

Will it always work? Probably not, I think some of our dragons are really dragons. But even in those cases, something as simple as doing a Rocky themed air punching montage to “the eye of the tiger” will prepare you for it.

How do you get unstuck??


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