Challenges, Rules, and Elephants
During the wrap-up gathering for 2017, I was challenged by Derek Greenberg to try writing music in 2018 that I wasn’t comfortable doing or had never tried. Rap. Country. Whatever. I took up this challenge and added a few additional rules and guidelines for myself:
- Never write the same style two days in a row.
- Use every piece of gear in the studio over the course of the month.
- Focus on songs. Instrumentals only if inspired or absolutely necessary.
- Play more guitar.
I feel like I was largely successful with this. The variety is definitely there. In 2016, I had several ideas floating in my head and didn’t start grasping until about the third week. In 2017, it was roughly the same; I didn’t have specific song ideas, but I had general styles I wanted to explore. In 2018, I ran out of ideas and hit “weird” on the third day.
There are a few complete embarrassments, but I’m putting them here because that’s the spirit of the challenge, and the spirit of Song-A-Day in general. There was an elephant in the studio, however.
The death of my grandmother was a somber ending to the previous Song-A-Day. That wouldn’t come close to the devastation I experienced with the loss of my youngest brother to cancer in December of 2017. I had only been back from his memorial service for about two weeks when Song-A-Day 2018 started. I both looked forward to, and feared, the songwriting process. Everything was raw and nothing made sense.
As it turned out, there was less music about him than I thought there would be, and the things that are about him aren’t the things I expected. As of this writing (February, 2019), I now think it was because I needed some processing time. (The challenges also helped.) I’ve written more about him this year than last, even if obliquely, and it’s only seven days in.
Again, here’s the playlist. I’ll be adding descriptions over the coming days, either directly to this page or linked as separate posts.
- I Wanted More Ray Toler 2:38
- I Like to Go Fast Ray Toler 3:32
- Something to Do with You Ray Toler 4:27
- Waiting Patiently Ray Toler 3:02
- POKE 53280,1 Ray Toler 3:02
- The Orrery Ray Toler 3:23
- Sidie Ray Toler 11:00
- In My Dream Ray Toler 6:19
- I Know It's Five O'Clock Somewhere Ray Toler 3:16
- Canardic Cacotopia Ray Toler 3:47
- I've Never Written Her a Love Song Ray Toler 1:50
- I've Got a Tub in the Basement Ray Toler 2:05
- Lacuna Ray Toler 5:42
- Churika Cherry Bomb (Excerpt) Ray Toler 1:03
- I Tried to Feed Her Kale Ray Toler 3:48
- Gammognostic Ray Toler 4:01
- Into the Black Ray Toler 3:38
- Ode to the Car Alarm Outside My Window Ray Toler 2:38
- Doesn't Matter Ray Toler 4:12
- Cascade Ray Toler 3:13
- Radionic Ragdoll Ray Toler 3:15
- Splat Rat (Duane Gayle Cover) Ray Toler 2:35
- Proton Donor Ray Toler 5:35
- Diaphanous Dervish Ray Toler 4:25
- Corona Ray Toler 8:58
- Battus Ray Toler 1:48
- You Can't Make Me Love You Ray Toler 3:21
- Crazy and Holy Ray Toler 1:58