John Mayer/Steve Jordan/Pino Palladino/Chick Corea/Wallace Roney
Here’s a full seven minute tune I loosely composed called “Little Sur,” recorded last February in New York City. I got together with some of my friends and favorite players for six amazing days of playing music with no rules, no plans, and no pressure. Oh, and no vocals. What came from it was a really inspired batch of recordings. Hours of music that I’ll need to sift through at some point should it ever become an album. (I hope it does.) If you’re wondering where I am in the mix, that’s me playing a Music Man long scale guitar… Pino and I are kind of both living in the bass space. As soon as Chick came in on the piano, I knew something really deep was taking place. This is the rough mix that was given to me at the end of the day, as it has lived on my laptop since.
I tried to find a minute, two minute clip to share with you, but these recordings just don’t work any other way than in their unabridged form. So here it is. Free music. Played freely, shared freely. Put it on and go for the ride… If you dig all seven minutes, then surely you deserve them.
There are times for marketing strategies, and there are times for just p l a y i n g. The original design for all musicians. Hope you enjoy hearing this as much as I did.
It’s day three of 2014 and I’m not feeling any less guilty about not posting some thoughts I have, so I guess that’s good enough reason to write them down and send them to you.
I guess a part of me wants to lay out some predictions for the culture-at-large, and wouldn’t that feel great for a minute, but that’s really not my business. I can really only speak for myself, and sometimes that’s the hardest topic to have a mindful point of view on.
I want to enjoy being an artist. Artists are weird. We’re fucked up in some of the wrong places, sure, but that’s part of the deal. I’m not mad enough to be a genius, and God knows I’m not genius enough to justify any true madness, but I do want to live my life being creative. And I want the quest for creativity to win out against the fear of failure.
One thing I need to divorce myself of in 2014 - and to the extent I have any real influence, I would want other artists to as well - is the belief that the now ubiquitous act of studying the changing attitudes and behavior of a society when it comes to how they do or don’t consume music has ANYTHING at all do to with me or the kind of work I want to create.
It might matter to concert promoter or a record company or a journalist how people are consuming music, but it should never be a good enough reason why I wouldn’t want to make it. There is empirically nothing inside the autopsy of an attitude in listening habits that should change the music that someone’s heart tells them to make.
2014 is the year of doing, not thinking. I could live the rest of my life in the theoretical “idea space,” a fancy name given to what often should just be called “pure inaction,” but sometimes, it doesn’t come down to a rousing cerebral back and forth on why I should or shouldn’t make my next record here or there or with this person or that one. Sometimes, if you spend too much time debating between two places to go, you miss the flight.
This year I resolve to create more; write more songs, book more studio sessions with musicians I don’t have a master plan for the purpose of, take more photos, take more chances. For the past several years I’ve seen expression as a vulnerability, and certainly for some of that time it was necessary, but it’s not anymore. I want to use at least half the time I used to spend debating whether it’s worth doing actually DOING IT. If you’re an artist, and you want to do it, and that “it” exists inside your art, DO IT. An artist should be able to make it now and let the audience tell them what it was or wasn’t without a TED talk-level of explanation before even trying to create it. The artist-as-strategist paradigm might be a compelling thought on some level, but one thing it isn’t is fun. Or groovy. Or messy, which is fun sometimes.
I hope that you have an amazing, healthy, timelessly enjoyable 2014. A lot of specifics are up in the air as to where I might see you next, but please know I will be spending every bit of my energy on making the purest and best music I possibly can. Thanks for standing by my side.