It’s been my experience that I learn best by doing — practice, as it turns out, makes permanent (as the dude quoted on my old school orchestra folders used to say). I am learning to play new instruments and learning to write new songs, and it seems to me that the best way for me to get better at this stuff is to keep doing it. Accordingly, I’ve assigned myself a Monumental and Daunting Task: to record one cover song a day for a year, slap it on some video, and embarrass myself in public by posting it for other people to hear. Why covers? Because learning other people’s songs is, I think, helping me to learn what I want from my own. Also: it’s good homework on the new instruments. It forces me to learn new technique, it forces me to learn to adapt songs to my limitations, and it forces me to suck it up and practice already.
I know. I KNOW. It’s a totally stupid idea. I get that.
This, you understand, is a large part of its appeal. I love me a stupid idea!
Here’s the deal: In order to give myself some reasonable learning time, I’m going to cheat just a bit. I already have video of myself performing several different cover songs (either by myself or with a band), so I’ll be padding out these early days with old bits. I’m not going to hold myself to very high standards on these covers — some of them, honestly, are just going to suck. I am prepared to be embarrassed. The point of the exercise is to learn, and failure is a valuable part of the learning process. Some of the video will be of a performance. Some of it will be a slideshow set to whatever song I’ve recorded (depending on how much time I have to cut together live video of anything and on what instrumentation I’m using).
This little game doesn’t supersede my existing Stupid and Impossible Project (covering Devil Went Down to Georgia, all by my lonesome) — that bit will be a part of this one (and should be done in the next week or so, actually, if I can find the time to do it).
So here we go with cover #1: “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”, as I performed it with Jimmy Davis and Friends at the Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival this past January.