A pretty sure sign that your having “writers block” is when you commence making lists of your favorite compositions much like I did in my last blog.
I have had “blocks” before and I don’t much let them upset me like I used to.
S. J. Perelman (perhaps my favorite writer) explained them as being the natural consequence of having “used up” a certain amount of yourself. I think that’s true.
Not only do I find myself being more selective about what I compose but I also reject more attempts than ever before. I now have to write five pieces before I find just one acceptable. But those are the conditions of the tournament and the wisdom of age negates the youthful exuberance of the past when I was still trying to put together an original repertoire and was a little less self-critical.
Another one of the major drawbacks is a sort of self-plagiarism. This is when you think you have struck upon an idea only to find (upon further deliberation) that you have already mined that vein. Someone once said that all composers only have three tunes and that they merely write endless variations on those three themes. That is a pretty drastic overstatement and over-simplification but it has some ring of truth to it.
I would say that out of the 233 pieces I have written and recorded at least another 250 were discarded. And out of the 233 pieces that survive perhaps only 60-75 really approach something that can be called original and worthy of at least limited permanence.
If this blog seems a little preachy or haughty I have no apologies because I have truly reached a point in my creative life where I have enough confidence to say what I really think and I finally care less than I used to about what people think about it.
Though I still want people to like what I do. It’s just that I’m no longer heartbroken when approbation is not forthcoming.
Here endeth the lesson.
According to the BMI catalog (and they should know) I have written and recorded 233 songs thus far. This number surprised me a little but also got me to thinking on the subject.
Of course many of the 233 pieces are forgotten even to me. So I thought I would compile a list of songs that I have written and recorded that are still “active” and at least on occasion make their way into my live performance repertoire. Here is that list of precisely 40 songs in my original repertoire.
House with Four Chimneys
Sweet on You
East Hennepin Swing
Goatee and Shades
Tales from the North Woods
Through Rose Colored Glasses
Sasha and Dinu
Long Ago, Far Away