This is a newly edited version of a previously released post. It deals with the album/song process.
I am terrible at getting things done. I have no problem coming up with ideas. I have notebooks full of ideas. There might even be one or two good ideas in there somewhere. I am comfortable with hard work. Once I have selected the lucky good idea, I have no problem getting completely lost in the project. However, I am terrible at finishing.
When we found out we were expecting our first child, I put two essential items on my to-do list. It was imperative, before she was born, I clean out the garage and release the record I had been working on. Judgementcame out when she was two. It was released on February 6, 2010. I still haven’t cleaned the garage.
I think I could have worked on Judgement for the rest of my life. Fortunately, I hit that critical moment that occurs for every project that makes it to completion. Eventually, we find the point where the nagging hauntings from the ghost of the unfinished project outweigh the constant fear that it will never be exactly right. I begin each new project with a vision and a plan for every tiny detail. I sometimes get vaguely close. Good enough.
[bandcamp width=100% height=42 album=3037203286 size=small bgcol=ffffff linkcol=63b2cc track=2423564206]
This is my all-time favorite love song. I was trying to write something creepy and scary and ended up with this weird romantic ditty. Although it is not autobiographical, it is the most personal song I have ever written. Becasue it feels so awkward and personal, it has always been a tough song to perform for people. As much as I love this song, it also makes me crazy becasue I have never been happy with one line in the first verse.
“He Liked to spend his days with a little dog named Napoleon.”
It’s my song, I can name the dog anything I like. But seriously, who would name a dog Napoleon? “Here Nappy.” “Sit Napoleon.” This is the stupidest dog name, ever.
When I was writing the song, it just came out. The phrase has been a placeholder since 2012. I have often come back to work on this song. I want to fix it but I have never been able to come up with anything better. The line wouldn’t have to be about a dog, it could be anything. Maybe I wrote the line because I have always wanted a dog. Sitting alone with a dog seems to fit this guy. A little dog with a powerful name works. It sets a tone. It is weird and awkward but it’s easy to picture the whole scene. I decided to record this song and put it out into the world because it is good enough.
My wife and I have frequent discussions revolving around this concept of good enough. At our current point in life, we are solely focused on things being good enough. Being a perfectionist is not an option with twins. Survival mode kicks in. Cooking a nice dinner is out of the question. Eating spoonfuls of peanut butter from the jar when no one is looking is typically the best we can do. This may seem like a defeatist attitude but really it’s about priorities. I never get to drink my coffee when it is still hot. We have to efficiently decide what is the most important and plug away until it is good enough.
How does this fit with art? Is good enough acceptable for art? Spending time creating something is far more valuable to me than spending time trying to make something perfect. Focusing on the minor details for hours is never time well spent. Artistic integrity is important and art requires hard work. I know that some amount of spit and polish can go a long way but you need to be able to find the right balance. In this life with limited time, creating something that is good enough far outweighs being stuck worrying about perfection.
The saying goes that the devil is in the details. I don’t really know what that is supposed to mean. But for me, the details almost always slow me down and very often they keep me from finishing at all. I am learning, to finish a project, I need to begin with the fewest necessary expectations. I must look at the big picture and just make stuff. That is the only way I can ever arrive at good enough.
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