Thursday, October 23, 2014

(If 4,460 Trees Fall in the) Forest

This is a solicitation: it has been a long time now since I did any serious recording: I'm determined to change that relatively soon by commencing on the composition of the third Songs of Days album: The Bootstrap Gospel 2: Black Feedback.  I aim to establish a higher level for this recording in every respect, which means it's probably going to take a long time.

Support, and interest in the Songs of Days project in general, would speed things up.  If you're a friend of the song of the day - if you're interested in seeing this thing as it goes on - here are three things you can do to help me.

1. If you haven't partaken of my recorded work, head over to Bandcamp and pick up a copy of Only the Very Greatest Hits. It's available as a "name your price" download, and thus is designed to fit any budget, including a budget of nothing.

2. Share Songs of Days - I've written a new introduction for newcomers.  Post it somewhere online.

3. Leave a comment on the songs. Share. Follow on Google Plus, Tumblr or Twitter. Drop me a line if I haven't heard from you lately (or ever).

And many thanks to those who have heard a few fall in the forest.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Restless Stop

Opened the current volume of Songs of Days: the Second Series (volume 17, "The Right Book") to discover with moderate surprise that I was a couple of days behind.  Dashing off a couple of rather unstudied sketches I also briefly forgot that I was still quite early in on a fecklessly proposed 500 song series on the theme of optimism.  I wrote two songs without an inkling of this in my head, remembered, went back to look them over and decided some tenuous thread of this theme had persisted, so maybe it has gotten ingrained in me somewhat, or then again maybe I'm just inferring things that aren't there under the influence of some sort of emotional pareidolia, it's a pretty vague theme anyway and I've been kneeing and elbowing its boundaries pretty hard as it is, and who knows, I may certainly have already forgotten it entirely in some past entry and filled one of these putatively optimistic songs with a pure stream of pitch black vitriol.  I'm only 66 songs into it, and starting to remember that hey, 500 is actually a really big number... half the length of the original project for crying out loud.

Speaking of things that can be divided evenly by 3, the total number of songs proposed for this, the Second Series, is not one of them.  At 10,000 the nearest integer to a third then is 3,333 which happens to be the song number I wrote today (after dusting up the backlog).  Hitting this milestone is more than a little daunting.  On one side that is a really large number of lyrics and I'm supposed to do this over again, twice?  And then again, where has the time gone?  I know the whole series is supposed to take around 27 years at which point I will not be by any stretch of anyone's definition a spring chicken (unless the Singularity comes along and makes 85 the new 27, in which case maybe the whole thing will just seem like a youthful indiscretion)... So if I'm a third of the way through it 9 years have got behind me, by God!  Of course I know I started in 2005 and I know it's 2014 and I'm capable of subtraction in addition to division so I can't honestly call any of these numbers a "surprise". Artificial divisions of time.

But there it is.  Song number 2.3333, entitled: Antumbra.  Look for it on the Tower of Reproach... on June 18, 2020.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


A day or so ago I embarked on what is intended to be the longest series within the Songs of Days, second iteration - titled "Endless Axis," its premise is that every song in a continuous series of 500 will be optimistic.  It's a little bit of a tall order for me as any brief perusal of the lyrics from pretty much any angle at all will quickly reveal.  I don't know, I embark on these things impulsively, write a number and decide I'm committed, though I've left a nascent series or two abandoned by the wayside... But generally I follow through.  I guess when the critical number is 10,000 (and nearly a third way through) the rest all seem relatively small in comparison.

If any series is going to crash and burn, though...

I pretty much gave up caffeine in the midst of making all sorts of changes in my habits geared toward trying to resolve persistent digestive problems that have plagued me since a child and gotten acutely worse a few years ago.  Altogether these changes have mostly worked wonderfully well but they have also rather stripped the last possibilities of self-indulgence out of my regimen; it has been many a year since I considered getting drunk or high to be any kind of a viable decision and certainly smoking cigarettes is a virulent pathology I scribed indelibly into my brain by becoming starkly addicted to them in my early teens - I can't and don't touch tobacco or nicotine in any form.

Caffeine, though, I viewed as more of just a hedge against tummy trouble but I tell you, I was in a restaurant with my wife and they didn't have decaf coffee so I ordered a cup of regular.  The waiter kept topping it up and I probably drank about three cups.

Almost immediate gastro consequences followed by 5 hours of near crippling depression and anxiety.  It seems at some point, in the midst of all my efforts at self-improvement, my psyche has become a surly beast that will not suffer anything but a scrupulously clean kennel.  So I guess this marks the beginning of an era for me as an absolute straight edge... how this will mesh with an effort at at least a tiny interlude of enforced optimism every day, I don't know.  We roll along...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

the way that becomes a way

Sweet concluded a series of 81 songs based on the John C. H. Wu translation of the Tao Teh Ching. I continue to read the Tao regularly and find it to be an enduring enigma.  What I remember about these songs is that they were almost effortless to write, but in rereading them I find them... oh, underwhelming.  But perhaps it is just that they are mild, and flavourless... appealing to neither the eye nor to the ear.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Late in April of 2009 I started writing a series of songs of days based on the (arguably satirical) instructions about writing a pop song from KLF's The Manual.  I bring it up because I'm hauling these across the digital divide now, also because I recently restarted my sometimes habit of posting the odd cryptic line from one of the songs I'm currently transcribing from their origins in handwritten books on Twitter.  I've tried other things on Twitter in the past, including cross-posting the songs I'm actually putting online at the moment - as opposed to songs that will go online in a year or so (as of now, I'm trying to increase my backlog and eventually catch up, after that I don't know what I'll post...)  I don't know what I'm doing.  I will maybe probably talk more about this series of songs when it actually comes along.

Anyway I came across something new among in the annals of How I Can Screw Up the Songs of the Day: so I'm going through, transcribing these songs into digital documents, occasionally being stumped by my genuinely abysmal handwriting, when I find myself confused by the numbering of the songs in the series (there are (were, was supposed to be) a hundred of them and they are all numbered (1/100, 2/100, etc.) and the numbers I'm transcribing start not matching so I have to go back and figure out what happened.  It takes a minute but it's not complicated, when I wrote the songs I wrote number 30 twice.  Wrote a song and called it number 30 and wrote another song and called it number 30 as well.  I've written a lot of series (I'm posting one now) and this is a new one.  As chance song number 30 (the first one) is titled "Repeat" but I don't think I did it on purpose (doing so out of some obscure motive and forgetting is not outside the realm of possibility).  What to do?  I didn't feel like trying to go back and relabel everything so I just relabeled the second 30 as "30b" and called it good.

Monday, January 27, 2014

number of the beast turned upside down

I used to keep a journal, in my adolescence and young adulthood - near daily, through a good part of most of a 10 year stretch.  Attempts to reread it have not gone far.  I don't think it will serve as much of a boon to future archaeologists: not a lot of "the way we lived in 1992" practicalities or even current events of significance.  A lot of thinky-broody teen/early-twenties angst.  Arguably the songs of days could be seen as pretty much the replication of this format with the sole improving feature of brevity.

The point is I can in theory go back to the pages of the journal period and often get some slender thread of narrative on the happenstance of my life at those moments.  The songs sometimes refresh a particularly memory for me but often my state of mind and the particulars of my day to day of a given date are no less opaque for having read my diurnal lyrical offering.

Which finds me wondering about what I was thinking about has I pulled up on a thousand songs in the second project.  I can remember deciding to close the first project at 1,001 (as in "Arabian Nights") and it feeling like the end of something of a marathon.  I still can't remember what was going on in my head when I initiated a second project with a 10,000 song goal, other than I know I was influenced by Dave Sim's writing about his early-in-the-run decision to make Cerebus a 300 issue comic.  The first few years had gotten off to a rough start, I got into some deep holes of backlog as I lost the songwriting plot over and again while trying to wrap my head around parenting, backlogs deep enough to require months to unravel and casting the whole premise into deep doubt.  At 1,000 I was at last establishing a core stability in the general practice again.

I was riffing off the Tao Teh Ching and in re-reading, feel a little surprised the "big" numbers (either 999 or 1,000) come with little fanfare...

And then just this moment I think about it I remember, oh right, the very long-term error in the numbering based on some misreading of my dreadful handwritten scrawl (before I started instituting regular milestones of doing the math to make sure I hadn't gotten the numbering off again).  I guess I did make note of it after all.  Had the novelty worn off by 2,000? Guess we'll know in 2 & 3/4 years, give or take.

Closing in on a third of the way through these days (in four or five months).  Record of the long journey.