The Tuesday before Thanksgiving I had the chance to hear one of my all time musical heroes, Bob Dylan, live in concert for the first time. It was an interesting experience attending his performance after so many years of listening to his recorded work because every song performed that evening was “re-imagined.” That’s a nice way of saying you couldn’t figure out what tune it was until he hit the hook of the chorus. I knew this would be the case going into the concert but thought, “Those who weren’t able to catch it right away clearly weren’t serious fans of Mr. Dylan.” Let’s be honest, there are Dylan fans and then there are Dylan fans. I pitch my tent in the second camp and still there I was sitting with 2,000+ guests slowly figuring out what he was playing.
The concert became more and more fascinating as each song quietly revealed itself to the listener, like a child unwrapping a present. The audience repeatedly had this realization, through each song, where they found their musical bearings. The closest thing I can liken it to would be running into an old friend you’ve lost touch with in an airport, in a different city from the one you live, on the way to place you’ve never been. Dylan’s concert created that sense of surprise, confusion, familiarity, and warmth for two hours.
Driving home from Washington, DC that evening, I thought about that sense of the unfamiliar with the familiar. The delight audience members felt when they figured out just what it was they were enjoying and then, it wrecked my Christmas song.
So, here’s my holiday greeting to you (Click here). Much like Bob’s concert, the familiar hook of the song “Silent Night” will emerge but you’ll have to wait for it.
Here’s a hint:
Wishing you and those closest to you Happy Holidays & New Year!
I was driving in the car a few weeks ago while thinking about how I wasn’t managing to practice everything on my plate. I was preparing for recording sessions in October and getting ready for several days in front of the microphones had proved challenging. Thoughts chugging along in my head, I flipped on the radio and heard an interview on Tech Nation (NPR) with behavioral neuroscientist Daniel Levitin about his book “The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.” While Levitin is a scientist, he’s also a musician and this caught my interest. What struck me was something that the author mentioned in passing. Levitin said, “Eat the Frog,” was a mantra around his house. The idea being this: if you have something difficult to take care of, work to do this task (or in my case tasks) first and then it’s off your plate. Ah, the return of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s age old battle between the Urgent and the Important.
Armed with this frog consumption concept, I returned to my work and reevaluated my approach. Behold, a revelation, I was arriving to the guitar too late in the day. After a few tweaks to my schedule and a bit more morning coffee, I managed to work on the difficult pieces first thing each day. What was most interesting about this, to me, was that while some practice sessions were better than others, my view of my progress was more positive. I felt “on track” towards my goal and this left me more motivated to continue working. The end result was a very successful run of recording sessions (yep–new album coming in 2015), and I finished the work feeling ready to dive into the next set of challenges.
If you want to find out more about the origins of this frog eating concept, click here.