About ten days ago I heard a Q&A session with Charlie Peacock, a Nashville based producer/songwriter/musician/author. I was in Nashville at this session because I didn’t have anything better to do. My girlfriend and I had broken up a few days before and I wanted to get out of town. So there I was and I wasn’t sure why. My ears perked up when Charlie was introduced and walked onto stage with a Switchfoot (one of my favorite’s) song playing over the PA system. I didn’t know it until then but he produced Switchfoot’s song, “Dare You To Move” and signed them to their first record deal. So now I wanted to listen closely to everything Charlie had to say. He didn’t disappoint.
He seems like a really intelligent and thoughtful and hardworking guy. I say thoughtful because it’s apparent that he hasn’t just had years of experience in the music industry but he’s clearly thought about what it all means and why it matters. I was impressed with so much of what he said but one thing really stood out. It’s something I haven’t been able to get out of my head since. He talked about connecting with humanity as a songwriter. He said that what he’s interested in is music and/or artists that are taking risks and connecting with humanity.
He had me at humanity. The more I thought about it the more I realized that not only was that concept blowing my mind but it was also a huge relief. For the past twenty years I’ve been writing songs. Some of them are good. Some of them aren’t. For a lot of those years I’ve been attempting to get better at that and that quest has led me to add numerous slashes and titles to my descriptor; “Hi… I’m Tim Pepper, singer/songwriter/artist/audio engineer/social media guy/video editor/web page designer… You get the picture. I’m getting better at some of the things on that list but, it’s a really long list. I’m probably not going to get my 10 000 hours in for all of them.
Then you hear a guy like Charlie Peacock talk about how jazz musicians employ an economy of notes in order to make great compositions. They aren’t playing every note they can play. Instead they are play the right note at the right time and maybe they aren’t playing at all sometimes. You hear him talk about that and you hear him talk about humanity and suddenly all those titles seem like a lot of unfocused activity. Suddenly you remember that you love the music of The Milk Carton Kids because it’s pretty and simple. You remember that most of the music you love touches something in you that has nothing to do with tones or beats or walls of sounds. You remember that maybe it’s possible to touch people with a voice and a guitar and a few well written words. And it’s a relief because it gives you a really definite thing to focus on and get better at. Just write real stuff and write it well. Connect with the one thing in you that is common to everyone…humanity.
For the past few months I’ve been doing tutorials online so that I can make better mixes of songs in Pro Tools. I love it but it’s enormous. There’s just so much to play with inside a modern recording software program. I’ve been working on a song called “It Ain’t Easy Falling Apart” and it’s horrible. I kept playing with the mix because I kept trying to make it better. At this point the mix is decent but the song is just a piece of crap. I hate it but I know I’ve been wasting my time with it. I know….I know….nothing is wasted…
When I got back home from Nashville I started the process of learning how to live in a new city, suddenly without a girlfriend. Suddenly without a friend at all it seems. It’s lonely of course. It’s quiet. I’m sick of Netflix. I want to talk to people. It’s weird because I keep reaching for my phone to tell my person about some dumb thing I’m doing that day. But I can’t. It’s boring. To top it all off I have high blood pressure so I’m not supposed to drink. Not that I want to go get drunk all the time but it just seems like that might at least be fun. Throughout all of that I kept thinking about humanity and realized that the best thing I could do would be to get back to writing. I decided that I’d forget all the studio tricks and just record this thing quickly and simply and let it be what it is.
This post is already long so I’ll just post the lyrics below and be done. Enjoy!!
Boredom and Sobriety – Tim Pepper
Another line on this face.
Another track for the tears.
But it isn’t what you think.
It’s not the stacking of the years.
My distress is caused by silence.
A room so quiet I can hear.
Every creak and every crack in this house;
Each heart beat drumming in my ears
I wish we had fought like lions,
Or wrestled with the Deities.
Our passion burned like an ember dying.
We parted ways so peacefully.
Now the only things that I’m left fighting
Are boredom and sobriety.
Since you’re gone I hardly know
A single soul in this town.
I guess folks would understand me
if I turned to drink to wash it down.
But I prefer to sit in silence
and wonder, “What should I do now?”
I know things will get better
But good God I don’t know how.
I gotta be honest. There’s a part of me
That likes drinking whiskey straight.
Cause it’s more fun and a little easier
Than this here skinny, narrow gate.Share on Facebook