I already did a retrospective of this last year about a week ago, but since I’ve been seeing so many end-of-decade lists I thought it might be a good time for me to reflect on the second decade I’ve lived through in its entirety, and maybe make some resolutions. For me it seems like the themes were work, self-determination and the first several geographic relocations of my life.
So, to recap major events/transformations of the Zeroes (my preferred title):
- 2000: End of junior year of high school, beginning of senior year. Clockwork, my high school band, is starting to get ‘serious’, becoming the ‘house band’ at the Tin Ceiling. I’m in the process of ending my first serious relationship (no scare quotes on this one), and lose my virginity New Year’s Eve of this year (if this strikes you as Too Much Information, you clearly haven’t been listening to my song lyrics very closely, or are kidding yourself about their autobiographical nature). I also accept that I won’t simply skip college and play in a band, and get pretty psyched about applying to Oberlin, to which I am admitted in December.
- 2001: Clockwork records our first album (and our second album, and our third album). I graduate high school, feel sad about Clockwork breaking up, drive to Ohio for college on my birthday. September 11 happens two weeks into freshman year, making the change in my life and surroundings seem all the more immense. I meet Claire, my romantic partner of the past eight years, and we hook up casually for a few months before officially becoming boyfriend and girlfriend two days before winter break.
- 2002: I decide I want to be in the Oberlin’s composition program, put together my first portfolio, and get rejected. I work like hell all summer (probably the first time I’ve really worked hard for something I cared deeply about in my life) revising all the pieces plus writing a few new ones, and in the fall I’m allowed to be in the program on a provisional basis for the semester. My first several assignments come back covered in red ink and bearing such criticism as “major problems” or “this isn’t a melody – no idea here” or “You lack a basic understanding of Western tonality”. I revise every single one of them and hand them back in for more abuse. Gradually, it tapers off and I’m allowed to stay in the program. I get my mind blown with challenges to my notions of what music is and should be, where it’s going, whether writing ‘pop’ music (read: anything that’s not wanky academic chamber music) is worth a damn (I conclude years later that it is). I have my first college band, The Plan, which was some befuddled marriage of punk rock, experimental electronic and jamband (my bud Derek, the drummer, gives a shout-out to these glory days in the sweet birthday song he wrote for me this year). Over the summer, I also play in a jazz combo led by my good friend and Clockwork bassist, Nick.
- 2003: I start recording my first solo album of original songs, which isn’t finished till the next year. I also get involved in doing anti-oppression education and have several major revelations about power and privilege in our society.
- 2004: After many moons and many missteps, I finish my album What The Hat Meant, with hilariously backwards production decisions like dubbing drums after guitar and guitar after vocals. I spend the summer shedding on guitar: scales, jazz standards, classical pieces.
- 2005: Clearly not having learned the lesson from my solo album, I bite off way more than I can chew for my senior recital: string quartet, fusion combo, horn section, guitar duo. But it all comes together okay. I graduate, spend five weeks in Spain and Italy with Claire, then return home to St. Louis for six months to work, save money, and figure out that I’m going to move to California to make music with Sebastian. Also, somewhere in there I write the script to a graphic novel, which I have yet to do anything with.
I’ll be a little briefer here with these next few years, as I’ve already gone in depth about them previously on this blog.
- 2006: Moved to Los Angeles. Started Safe Patrol with Seb and Art Paz. Sebastian and I share songwriting duties, he does almost all the singing. We play one excellent show and promptly go on hiatus. I start working long hours at an awesome nonprofit and decide to put down music for a while.
- 2007: I move to the Bay Area for my job, work harder than I ever have in my life, have an incredible number of personal trials through the course of it, and by the end of it know that I’m not a child anymore.
- 2008: I leave my job, despite a great deal of time and emotional energy invested, because I want to get back to music. I take a less crazy nonprofit job. I write a small handful of songs, and I’m relieved that I haven’t lost the ability to do so; in fact, I’m pretty sure they’re the best songs I’ve ever written. I record my solo acoustic demo, Music From And Inspired By Our Doomed Love Affair, and begin to play open mics.
And of course I just summarized 2009 in depth a little while ago. Now: some resolutions for the year. Hopefully making these public will help me to be faithful to them.
- To write twenty songs this year.
- To play shows in every month of the year.
- To do my first mini-tour.
- To record an album with the Radical Folksonomy.
- To improve as a musician; especially to learn how to sing harmonies real nice.
- Most importantly: only to deepen my dedication to creating and sharing my music.
So there it is. Happy New Year, everyone. Happy New Decade. There was some bullshit going on in the world, to be sure, but for me it also paints a clear picture of increasingly pushing towards what I need to be doing. May this be the best fucking year of my and your life/lives.