I’m not sure if the stuff I’ve been “publishing” to this blog is getting seen, and I truly have little preference in the matter (in a good way). While a large readership is not something I’m after, I do care strongly about elegance, consistency, and the balance of form and function into a marriage that proceeds in an efficient manner. It’s these facts that have prompted me to write this half confessional, half apologetic post. Just like I prefer my understandings and beliefs to have reason and flow, so to should songs, records, and even blogs. And right now, this blog feels all over the map to me.
I have a confession to make-searcher, seeker, singer, songwriter
Here's the thing, I write because I have endless questions and curiosities and my process is to work through them by doing research and then ruminating on what I find, finally organizing my thoughts into essays. I like to check the logical flow of ideas and personal conclusions before moving on, I mean, even the wildest of notions must still conform to reason, right? Also, the process of writing things seems to help me, perhaps I’ve learned this from two decades of writing C#/C++ code. "Thinking with my fingers" is a good way to describe it.
In case I hadn't mentioned it, releasing an album and playing music professionally was never a dream of mine, at least not until very recently. It seems there's always been people around me who’ve encouraged me to take music more seriously, my father even pulled me aside once I’d completed high school to tell me I had his support should I choose to pursue music full-time. Although that was a kind gesture that I will never forget, the notion wasn't something I’d seriously thought about or considered for myself. Perhaps it was a dream that was simply too big, who knows?
What I can say is that I have always loved music and it’s consistently been the most inspirational part my life, and certainly the aspect which I’ve given the most time and effort to. However, about two years ago something began to change in my relationship with writing songs, and that change can best be described as learning to “get out of the way.” It wasn’t something I planned on, perhaps it's a proficiency I learned through years of songwriting, or maybe it's a gift I uncovered mid-way through life? I may never know, but this was my honest experience. This change took hold in the span of a weekend and it affected all aspects of my life (albeit very subtly), not just my songwriting.
After this "shift" songs seemed to want to write themselves more often than not, and once that happened the end product felt different. Some songs had messages that were open ended, but somewhat specific at the same time. They seemed to explore increasingly complex themes, yet they were more economical lyrically. Stranger still, the songs hinted at ideas or questions, but often I’d be clueless as to what a song wanted to say till it was finished, or in some cases until months later.
I have a confession to make-it seems like history repeats itself
It was at this point that making an album occurred to me, not because I’d always dreamed of doing it or because I had any clue how it was done, but because it felt like that’s what I was supposed to do. If I was truly just a participant in the songwriting process rather than the architect, didn’t I have a responsibility to let the tunes out into the world? Somehow I felt like these songs weren’t complete until they were set free to do whatever it was they were supposed to do, so I made A Good American Life.
Rather than being the end of the matter, making A Good American Life turned out to be a beginning for me. Following through with the record, even though it was more an act of faith than science, turned out to be an exercise in personal progress. Because I had no experience in record production/release I felt I had little choice other than to approach the album the same way I'd learned to approach songs, to get out of the way. Sure, I researched record-making and tried to put my best foot forward, but in the end it was more about trusting in what felt I was supposed to be doing and, weird as it might sound, believing that if a song can direct its own creation with my help, perhaps an album can as well?
I consider the album to be a success in that regard, the record was released in the UK in 2015 (it’s yet to be officially released in the U.S.) Once the record began getting airplay and garnering various positive reviews something even stranger began taking place in my life, I began to believe that I may be better served by following my feelings forward rather than my best intellectual reckoning. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m an analytical guy, however, just as I learned to apply my rationality to the editing phase of songwriting and remove it from the “inspiration” phase, so to am I working on living my life this way. I’m far from religious, but I can't help but wonder if this is what they meant all those years ago in church when they’d speak of “walking by faith?”
I have a confession to make-I'm working without a net on this one
All that having being said, this blog and the videos that accompany each post were suggested by a music consultant I worked with this year. He recommended starting them as “good things to do.” I was open to that suggestion, especially since I am constantly writing “out there” stuff anyway--reams of it--much more than I share in this blog. That said, I’m at a place in my life where I’m more curious than I’ve ever been, from the books I read to the podcasts I consume and documentaries I watch, my non-working life has been filled with inquiry. I suspect part of the reason for this is that I’ve transferred my “get out of the way” approach to songwriting over to my rambling essays. Just as with music, I feel more and more like a participant in my learning and writing than an author or architect, and I really love that fact. It feels good to relinquish control, as strange as that may sound.
So why the apology post? This apology is an admission that I'm all over the map at the moment, like a kid in a candy store. Three weeks ago I was reading about particle physics, the next week the history of Islam and the structuring of its modern sects, and the next food systems and functional medicine. All this has been awesome for me, but unfortunately this approach makes for an inconsistent and inelegant series of blog posts which may have little in common with one another; for the moment I can't seem to keep to a particular theme.
It is with this in mind that I publish this post and issue what’s best described as a disclaimer. My intuition tells me that these blogs and videos will find their rhythm and reach a consistent, balanced flow, but that time hasn’t arrived yet. That’s just not what my life looks like at the moment. I can promise honestly, but I can’t promise consistency, not yet.
You see, I don't think there are any superheroes out there to save us, and if there are they certainly don't reside on capitol hill. I don't view our leaders as crooks or idiots, just as regular, fallible people, no more or less equipped to solve the world's problems than the rest of us. And judging by the lack of reason and wisdom espoused by recent presidential candidates, significantly less equipped in many cases. Notice, I didn't say these folks are unqualified to navigate our political system, just to solve our problems. Perhaps this is why I feel a tremendous pull to learn as much as I can right now, it's not the people on the hill that are the roadblock in my reckoning, it's the idea that a few hundred people on a hill could ever solve my problems. No, in the end that's on me. And as for all of our problems? They're on all of us I suppose, borders notwithstanding. I don't believe we have the luxury of simply tuning out and trusting others to fix things for us, not any more. Anyone willing to look-I mean truly put their fears and belief-systems aside and honestly look-can see where we're headed, and it's not some place any of us really want to go. That's just one man's opinion though, and you know as I do exactly what that's worth (nothing and everything at the same time).
So this is my confession. To anyone reading these posts or watching my videos, please consider this an admission that from here on out all bets are off, and I will joyfully and indulgently be changing topics until I find my natural rhythm.
Find this week's video here!
Americana Singer Songwriter Ed Dupas’ lived-in melodies unwind with reflective lyrics that speak to the current state of the human condition. Soothing where possible, agitating where necessary, and calling for change where appropriate. Ed Dupas creates and shares well worn wide awake music.
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