A Challenge Worth Taking

Several years ago, I was invited to join in a slightly scary experiment: “write, record, and post a song every day for the month of February.” Up to that point, songwriting had been a precious, careful thing. I often took weeks and sometimes years to finish a track. Doing that in a day, and then doing it again and again for an entire month was a daunting prospect, but also an appealing one. What would I write about? Could I put the perfectionist aside? Could I silence the inner demon-critic?

I’ve now answered those questions over 150 times, though I’ve been told that the journey only really gets started once I hit the 200 mark. The links below will take you to my Song-A-Day output since 2016. These are the raw tracks, exactly as they were posted on the noted days, warts and all. Some of them have gone on to have additional life on my album releases, film scores, and video game soundtracks. Others have become personal favorites that remain in heavy rotation on my private playlists.

Beginning with 2019, I’ve written a blog entry for each track, and have been adding entries every now and then for past songs as well. Check out the page for each year to learn more about what was going on in my head and in my life, as well as production notes and background.

Song-A-Day has become one of the high points of the year. It’s maddening, grueling, inspiring, and amazing. It’s self-inflicted torture and therapy. Above all, it’s taught or cemented several important lessons:

  • Deadlines and limitations make a difference.
  • Writing regularly makes writing easier.
  • Not every song will be good.
  • You might write your best song ever today!
  • Finishing a bad song is better than never finishing a good song.
  • You can achieve far more than you think.

One of the most amazing things about this project is hearing what each person creates. On average, there’s a full album worth of music posted every day! You can stream the current selections at the Song-A-Day website, or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Song-A-Day 2023

It’s 2023. I’m supposed to have a flying car, personal robot, and Mr. Fusion by now. Instead we have the biggest babies throwing the loudest tantrums and demanding the total submission of the unenlightened. With antagonists both global and local, is it possible to stay positive? Can I find beauty in a thorny landscape? And can I stop telling the same story over and over again?

Song-A-Day 2022

A year already fraught with upheaval and conflict, and yet almost nothing’s changed. As I try to keep my head down and focus on the music, new constraints bring an interesting mix to this year’s challenge. But what about the results? And what do I have against bees?

Song-A-Day 2021

A dark season. A dark time. The world at a crossroads with the loudest tribes, addicted to drama, outrage, and hate, shouting down all who would oppose them. Time to talk, time to hide, or time to leave? Let’s explore.

Song-A-Day 2020

It was supposed to be a new chapter and a new attitude. It ended up being a terrible start to what would become a terrible year. So much to say, with little motivation to actually say it.

Ray Toler - Song-A-Day 2019

Song-A-Day 2019

A blank slate and a blank mind. What happens when the muse is off hitting on hipsters at the bar or playing X-Box? What happens when the voices in your head get hold of a shredder? What happens if you have a relapse of… The Funk?

Song-A-Day 2018

Working through a tragic loss, but not exactly the way I thought I would. A challenge from another participant coupled with some additional self-imposed rules creates some unexpected results.

Ray Toler - Song-A-Day 2018
Ray Toler - Song-A-Day 2017

Song-A-Day 2017

New city, new year, new challenge! Freshly on sabbatical, back in the same city and state with my wife, and trying to figure out how to decompress. Deeper explorations of interesting things, all while frantically trying to set up the studio.

Song-A-Day 2016

You’re challenging me to write a song every single day for a month? Are you insane? Am I insane? Apparently so. Testing my stamina, juggling priorities, and writing coded messages to myself.

Ray Toler - Song-A-Day 2016