I’m often at a loss for what to do with myself when we visit Elise’s families in New Jersey. At home, or at any friend’s house, my default position is guitar playing – it gives me something to do with my hands in idle moments so that I don’t feel like I have to carry on a non-stop conversation at all times.
I don’t usually bring my guitar with me to NJ, which means the families haven’t witnessed this particular phenomenon too often, but Elise was planning to leave me marooned while she went on a wedding dress tour, and I needed a way to pass the time. I added a wonderful new “print-version” feature to my lyrics database, so for the trip I printed out sheaf of my fifty most incomplete songs to workshop while Elise was out on her wedding whirlwind.
Isn’t that a little crazy – fifty songs that are unfinished and still relatively new?
I really vacillate about this sort of thing. At this point Gina and I have a solid sixteen song set, and I have ten or twenty of my strongest songs that go in and out of solo rotation. It’s a comfortable point to be at, but then I look at my freaking database and I see all of these unfinished songs – some of which I really adore and like to play, such as they are in their unfinished state. And, since my current setlist is heavily influenced by my 2003-04 stuff, there are incomplete songs hanging around that are about to be four years old.
Four years old! Which is a problem when I have a whole new fleet of unfinished songs to be working through – I only have so much headspace to to to push these things forward. So, I sat down with my sheaf today and had a touch of a workshop. I re-notated a few things in a more complete fashion, and I think finished one from 2001 – “4th of July” – once and for all.
All that rehearsal meant I was plenty limber for my post-dinner conversational gambit. Except, these are people who aren’t used to my schtick – that I like sit and underscore a conversation without needing anyone to pay attention to me, and that if there’s a lull I might sing for a bit before tucking my voice back under the din.
It made for a few awkward moments … I don’t know that Elise’s father has ever heard me play my own songs before? Certainly not songs about his daughter, anyhow. But, they won’t be getting rid of me anytime soon so they might as well get used to the incessant underscoring of my life. Along the way I turned in possibly my best vocal of all time on the bridge of “Love Me Not,” and also a very respectable version of the recently on-hiatus “Little Love.”
All of which is why I need to go home tomorrow and record a Trio. And then I need to record another another one. And then another. And so on.
Right. But, first I need to drink this glass of wine. And maybe another one.