February 5th, 2021

So there’s this thing that many of you probably know about, called February Album Writing Month (FAWM). And, like they say, it’s all right there on the label: write an album in February. And here we are, in the middle of a pandemic, and given that there ain’t much else to do, I thought to myself, what the hey, let’s give this a shot. Now, because the Internet needs to take everything and ruin it by turning it from a thing to a Thing, and so there’s a Web site, http://fawm.org, and you can sign up and do the social media thing and meet all the other FAWMers, as I’m sure they call themselves, and trade songs and get feedback and do all the Internetty things that gives introverts like me a case of hives. 

So I haven’t signed up, and I’m not going to meet the other FAWMers (except for the ones I already know, like my Somerville Songwriter Sessions co-host Beth DeSombre, who is doing FAWM for the Tenth. Straight. Year., all the while holding down a job as a fancy-dancy professor of something extremely smart), and I’m not even following the rules. I mean, I’m still doing it in February, and I’m still trying to write an album, but their gimmick is 14 songs in 28 days and that’s just too damn many, so my goal is 10. 

So how’m I doing? Well, glad you asked. Keep in mind that I haven’t written ten songs in a single year in, oh, about a couple decades. And as I write this, it’s noon on February 5, and I’ve already finished two songs, and one of them is a major keeper. And I’m starting to realize how, exactly, this is going to be a challenge for me.

The first thing is that I have a tendency to increase the degree of difficulty, especially in terms of the narrative structure. I have to pick exactly the right tone for my flawed protagonists. But I’m not going to have time for that; if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. The second thing is that I tend not to finish those songs where I can’t achieve my degree of difficulty, and here during February Album Writing Month, that’s not gonna be an option. If I invest some time into it, I have to wrap it up, put a bow on it, and move on – and moving on, well, that’s not my strength. 

But I think the third thing is going to be the worst. When I write a good song – and, let’s face it, I have a lot of experience with this – I tend to enter this zone where (a) all I can think of is how much of a genius I am, and (b) all I want to do is play the song. My wife, She Who Must Be Taunted, is remarkably tolerant of this, both because she mostly agrees that I’m a genius and because she can tune out just about anything if she wants to. I, on the other hand, am trapped in Song Mania Hell. Which is usually a lovely place to be – except when I have to put it away and write another song, because I’m on a schedule, and those songs ain’t gonna write themselves. 

And that’s where I am with the second song I wrote this month, which is called “Modern Art”. And in order to attempt to put this puppy to bed, I’ve recorded it and posted on the ol’ Web site for your delectation. And I’m hoping that this act of committing it to the Internet will allow me to move on to my next song, which is either called “Blaming the Weather” or something else which I haven’t come up with yet, but better damn well come up with in the next couple days. Damn you, FAWM, and your rigorous schedule.

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