“Play the C Chord” – Everybody Makes Mistakes

So we begin with Everybody Makes Mistakes. Going by the title alone, we may find this album to be more humble than the judgement heavy The Fashion Focus. Saying that everyone makes mistakes implies that you recognize that you make them too. This is a good start.

In “Play the C Chord”, we hear JM going back to basics. The rhythm section is made up of a simple drum beat, a clean bass and at least two acoustic guitars. That’s a solid foundation. The acoustic guitars add a meaty texture to the sound that props up the two lead guitars. The first lead is bursts in at the beginning of the song and holds court during the verses, drenched in reverb and chorus. The second lead comes in in the chorus, playing on slide on some high notes. The first lead fills in space during the chorus playing mid-range arpeggios.

There is a synth in the background filling in space but without the New Wave antics of The Fashion Focus. The main vocals are overdubbed and we get some nice harmony backup vocals in a few places. Nothing in this song is particularly flashy. It’s just a solid, well crafted song.

These friends of mine
Fill in the lines
To put in the songs you like
To fill up your time
These friends of mine
Who write the lines
And we write the songs you like
In half the time

Hey, maybe I should get a cowriter to help me fill in the lines and write in half the time. I’ll admit it, getting through The Fashion Focus was a slog. I think there was more to my struggle than just the fact that that it’s not one of my favorite albums. Maybe I only have so much creativity and I’m already tapped out. I mean, I know I’m good for a few stories, but am I good for 50? I’m a good for the hundreds that will be required before this project is over? Gah. It’s frightening to even contemplate.

Something’s wrong if it’s the old news
Just play the C chord
Like it’s something
‘Cause something’s wrong if it’s the old news
Just play the C chord
Like it’s something
Like it’s something

A funny thing happened on all the days I skipped writing during The Fashion Focus. Everyday I heard a beep on my phone during my usual writing time. Every time I checked my screen, I saw that Siri was recommending my blog to me. Did it take Siri three months to realize that that I might be interested in my own blog or was she nudging me to keep writing?

There’s a pressure inherent to trying to create over an extended period of time. You don’t want to keep repeating the old stuff you’ve already done. But what do you do when you can’t think of anything new to do? Go back to basics. Play the C chord (pretty much the first chord any guitar player learns). Write what you know and what you hear. Keep going at it until something breaks through.

Like it’s something new
Like it’s something new
Like it’s something new
(Play the C chord)

The pieces of this song are all parts that we’ve heard before in previous sf59 songs. But this isn’t just a rehash of old news. It is something new because of how well crafted it is. This may be the turning point when JM grasps the songcraft we know so well in the later albums.

It is, at least, encouraging for me and my endeavors here that going back to basics can be the way to find a new path forward. Just keep going at it like it’s something new.

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