So I recently turned 45, and if asked what the 45-year-old me has that the 44-year-old version was missing, I would honestly say that in the last year, I have learned to follow -- to give myself over to the possibility that I’ve been living my life exactly backwards, that reason and rigorous planning may not be the best guide when it comes to finding peace and happiness, and certainly not when it comes to making records.
This all comes after the recent recording of my second studio album, set to be released in early 2017. Having written and tracked the album within the space of a year more transformative than any previously experienced, I can now hold the music in my hand and consider more fully the journey I’ve taken to arrive here. I can see that I simply wasn’t capable playing my role in this record a year ago, I wasn’t a strong enough singer or writer, nor was I the player I needed to be. I see now that to follow the path of this record required me to change not just the way I wrote and played songs, but to change myself at a fundamental level. Had I known what I was signing up for I may have thought twice, I suppose it's a good thing I didn't.
Let me backtrack a bit here …
Okay. I’m gonna zoom out for a second. So each of us perceives the world in our own unique way, and based on those perceptions we form impressions and make assumptions; but in the end, our viewpoint is like a kaleidoscope providing only a skewed perception of what others think, feel, and experience. We truly live in our own reality, each of us, and sharing openly and honestly with one another is an endeavor fraught with communication and trust issues. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that although I may try to illustrate what happened to me in the last year, it may never make it through that wall of self we each carry around us. My reality can never be truly visible to you. Nonetheless, I continue.
I’ve always considered myself a rational person, and indeed this is a necessary trait for anyone who earns their living designing and writing software, but in 2015 I found myself opening to feeling things more freely and allowing myself to stray beyond the “reasonable” concepts which had dominated my mind up to then. Having followed undefined feelings to arrive at songs somewhat repeatedly in the previous year, I’d found myself able to follow a subtler leading to arrive at a record, as one by one people lent their talents in just the right ways. After witnessing the positive results that emerged from simply being willing to let go and follow, I found myself noticing deeper intuitions and getting increasingly curious about where they might lead. However, these new feelings had less to do with songs and albums and instead pertained to my life and the way I’d been living it.
Within the private universe of my life things had always proceeded in a certain fashion, with problems analyzed, plans made, and solutions executed. But, in the summer of 2015, I found myself confronting the reality of having done things differently, of having given myself over to intuition, and awarding it my trust in areas where reason and rationality seemed ill-equipped to help me. In the end I received better results than I ever could have planned for, and I was beginning to suspect there was something I'd been missing about life. This was a lot to grapple with and difficult for my rational mind to accept at first, perhaps it still is … only now I've experienced too much to turn back to strict, linear thinking, planning, and writing.
In demonstration of this new, intuition based “thinking,” I consider my songwriting process. This process for me is akin to creating a shaded impression on a piece of paper; songs start as a feeling and the words and music act as paper and pencil. The paper is laid over a given feeling and the edge of the pencil tip is used to shade in the basic form of the inspiration, and from there it’s a matter of nurturing that creation to completion. After releasing my first record I came to trust in this process and confidently set forth to sketch out the new songs pulling at me, only this time they seemed a lot less shy about wanting to be “known,” and were more well defined as they arrived.
In the past year, I also began noticing the arrival of a new layer of inspiration, a deeper, subtler energy beginning to work on me, wanting to be sketched, wanting to make its way into the world. These intuitions seemed to have to do with me as a person, and to the repulsion of my rational mind I found that there was a new question arising inside me, “if I can arrive at a song or an album by following my intuition, what would happen if I tried living my life that way?”
After much soul searching I decided to try putting my plans aside and gave myself permission to follow whatever it was that was pulling at me. I knew there were songs to be written, and this time there was a larger concept too, a sense that I could intuit more about the record itself, how it might be structured, how songs might arrange and support one another to greater effect. But deeper still was a pull that demanded more, a wholesale analysis of life as I’d been living it.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, for one, to get it out. But more important, I’m writing this post as a disclaimer of sorts, as I like to do from time to time. There are so many bizarre stories and lessons I’ve lived through in the last year, some of which are bound to surface in whole or in part as I share more about my approach to music and how it has shifted throughout this journey. In order to feel truly free to discuss these ideas and approaches, however, you need context. You need to understand that once I opened myself to the possibility that my heart may be a more suitable tool for navigating life than the intractable logic and rationality of my mind, things changed. I changed. For the most part these experiences will remain mine, it’s surely best that way in the end. But that being said, I needed to feel free to speak candidly about my musical journey, and if something seems strange as details emerge, rest assured it’s not you, it’s me. And although I (generally) feel better and more alive than I ever have, admittedly it’s been a really weird year.
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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