October 26, 2012 by Tommy Link
I finished my 70th song earlier this week. I’m not sure why it’s struck me as it has, as 50th or 100th, or even 75th seem to be more commonly acknowledged milestones in counting. But any increment of 10 tends to hold weight, and I happened to be feeling reflective as I reached 70. And I reach it with a variety of thoughts.
For one, there’s pride. Not in reaching 70 songs, as quality has much more significance than quantity in this case (in most walks of life, if you ask me), but pride in the songs that over the years have been acknowledged by different people. And that there seem to be songs worth keeping spread out among the time I’ve been writing. I used to think that my newer songs were always better than my older songs, but looking back recently and reviving some earlier songs, there’s been a few gems each year. That’s comforting. I like the idea of the better songs coming and going more than the idea of endlessly moving forward and never looking back.
Another feeling would be honest embarrassment. I mean, looking through these songs, there’s some pretty rough stuff here. Ideas that were poorly executed, or that I can now notably view as fleeting and probably would never had made it off the launch pad if I had waited another day before writing it. Bound to happen, I suppose.
Then there’s the nostalgia, which is pretty incredible. I mean, some of these songs I haven’t played in years. But reading over them, so many take me back to exactly the mindset I was in that caused me to write that song. It’s a very particular kind of memory I guess, which I’m sure anybody who’s written anything or done anything artistic can relate to. Or really probably anybody who keeps any sort of memento to the past. Alright, so maybe it’s not actually that particular. But it still feels pretty incredible. In writing down these songs, I’m obviously logging memories, but at the time I’m never thinking “by writing this down, I will have permanently saved the memory of how I feel in this situation”. I get goosebumps just thinking about where I was (geographically, mentally, emotionally, what have you) in writing some of these. Time’s funny like that.
So why bring it up now? Other than this is my blog, and this is the kind of stuff you talk about in blogs (I think), I’m not really sure. I know there’s a lot of songs you’ve never heard in this 70, intrepid reader, and considering some of these songs, there’s good reason for that. But just saying 70 as a number doesn’t really mean any more than a number to you. In feeling reflective, I guess it is nice to look back and know that some of these have earned the respect and praise of some of the people that I respect and praise (both in said field of songwriting and otherwise). The nostalgic mood stuck me, and 70 is in fact a nice round number. But maybe I will make more of an effort to make these songs public.
What’s the worst that can happen? People not liking them? People ignoring them? Ha! I’ve already had both of those things happen. I’ll lose more sleep remembering that I need to change guitar strings. Which reminds me…