I have set myself some new goals, and they are turning out to be a lot harder work than I imagined.
Once a month I’ll release a video on YouTube of me performing an acoustic version of one of my songs. Should be a piece of cake. I already have loads of songs from my debut album Protagonist; I can play and sing them without too much bother; my iPad has a decent camera; I have a YouTube account. Easy peasy. Right?
Playing live is one thing. Folks have said to me “I could never do that, get up in front of people and sing.” And I accept that, it is not an easy thing to do, it’s taken a lot of practice and gets easier the more I do it. But I still can’t sing in front of an audience without closing my eyes. The good thing about playing live though is … you can’t see yourself.
I’m used to selfies now. I take, what 20 shots, and then post the one where I look my best. And maybe I believe the one photo is what I really look like, despite the fact that in the other 19 I don’t look like that, and over and above that, all 20 I was trying to look my best.
But with a video, I can’t kid myself.
I will look old. In fact just the age I am, but that is older than I think I should be as a songwriter at my career stage.
I will look ugly. In fact I will look like what I look like, but that is not as pretty as I would like to be.
I might look like I am showing off
I will risk making a fool of myself
These worries - they are insurmountable. It is just a matter of saying to myself - this is how it is. If I want to make a video then I just have to live with these facts. Do it anyway.
There’s a positive side to this, and I’ve only realised while writing this. I am NOT concerned that anyone will think that: I can’t sing, I can’t play guitar or I can’t write songs. I know I can do these things. Lots of room for improvement of course but the basic requirements have been met. But I suppose as my job here is to be a singer-songwriter, not a model…
I feel a bit better now actually.
So that’s the first challenge - accept the facts and do it anyway. It’s ok to be the age that I am. It’s ok to look exactly like I do. It's ok if people they I’m showing off. It’s ok if I make a fool of myself.
Now to the second challenge.
I thought it would be nice to write a little blog to go with each song, then folks could link through from my YouTube channel to my website.
The trouble with writing sentences and paragraphs (as opposed to lyrics) is I actually have to know what I mean and say what I mean. I actually need to think things through thoroughly and articulate it; what exactly am I trying to say? Writing songs is so much easier - you can be vague!
In my lyrics there are no sharp edges, there’s nothing I can’t deny afterwards. Everything is fuzzy, and of course, a song might not even be about me. You get to have your cake and eat it - believe you are saying something but have complete deniability.
I don’t believe songs are there to ‘Make a Point’ anyway (unless it’s a protest song.) Songs are for comfort, companionship, for lifting up, for connecting with / conveying emotions, for meeting you where you are or taking you somewhere else. A song is not an essay, nor is it a sermon.
And another list of insurmountable worries - another list that I just have to live with.
It looks like I am trying to be clever, but sound stupid
I make a fool of myself
I reveal too much
I say something that upsets someone else
Nonetheless, here I am, saying things and meaning them.
So I’ve wasted most of last week trying, and failing, to write a blog about my song ‘She Can’ (but this will do instead I think.) And the rest, hating on videos of myself.
And I thought - is it too much? Should I just give up on these goals and focus on writing songs and recording and performing live? Is this just causing me too much frustration, slowing me down, demotivating me?
Goals that seemed quite simple have become an exercise in self-acceptance, or at least self-forgetfulness.