A couple weeks ago I predicted that my biggest challenge as I tackle this goal of recording a song everyday would be to overcome the discomfort of sharing work that I’m not exactly proud of. Well, you can call me Nostradamus because my prediction came true. I flat out do not like two of these songs, one of which I considered playing completely in reverse, because at least that would be artsy and cool instead of bland and lame (but I chickened out of that). If I wasn’t so stubborn I wouldn’t share these with you. But I am stubborn, and so I’m sticking to this goal I’ve set for myself.

Luckily this week also produced two of my favorite songs I’ve made during the course of this experiment, so I think it all evens out in the end. Now I’m not going to tell you which songs I love and which I hate, because you might love or hate a completely different set of songs, and I don’t want to sway you in anyway. However, I do want to introduce a simple new element to this project of mine: I’m going to start naming the songs. Because who wants to listen to a boring old song called January 31? Not me. But do I want to listen to a song called January 31st — Bumpin’ Gumballs? You bet your britches I do.

January 29 — Faded Photos

January 30 — Snowy Forest Sunrise

January 31 — Bumpin’ Gumballs

February 1 — Impromptu Underwater Lounge Party

February 2 — Ichabod’s Return

February 3 — Vanillappropriation

This morning I read a profile in the New Yorker about the writer William Melvin Kelley (pictured above). There are many remarkable things about Kelley’s life and personality— the fact that he attained literary success with his 1962 debut novel A Different Drummer when he was only 24, that he was a black man who often wrote from a white perspective in order to expose white America’s contradictory views on African Americans, or that he essentially coined the term “woke” that we all use so much today. But the thing that I admire most about him is that every day he sat down at a desk facing the wall and wrote— first he would write in pencil, then he would edit his draft with a pen, and finally he would type it on a typewriter. He repeated this ritual everyday, even after he fell into relative artistic obscurity later in his life. The man simply loved to write. As I tackle this task of writing and recording a song everyday it is helpful to draw inspiration from other figures like Kelley who have gone down a similar path. I really don’t know where this path is leading, but I do know that, like Kelley, I just love to write and record music. Hope you enjoy this week’s work.

Daily Songs

January 22

January 23

January 24

January 25

January 26

January 27

 

 

 

 

Alright kiddos, this week I want to talk about string theory. Just kidding. I’m going to talk about myself. So tomorrow marks the first day of my last semester of grad school at NYU. And thus begins the true test of my New Year’s resolution of recording a song a day. It has been relatively easy to record these songs these first few weeks because I’ve been able to spend as much time on them as I’ve needed. Now begins the difficult task of spending less time on each song and still managing to create something that I feel is worth sharing. Or, more likely, thus begins the even more difficult process of creating things that I do not feel are worth sharing, and still sharing them. Because dammit, I made myself a resolution and I’m going to stick to it. Anyway, here’s this week’s batch. Enjoy!

Daily Songs

January 15

January 16

January 17

January 18

January 19

January 20

 

I was at the Comedy Cellar over the summer when one of the comedians (I wish I remembered his name) told this joke: “So I saw a girl crying on the subway recently. Whenever I see someone crying in public in New York I always think the same thing… Why aren’t more people crying right now!?” I thought about this joke a lot this week. Because in addition to the usual high levels of rats, rabble, and rent, it was also just painfully cold. But come to think of it, the question “why aren’t more people crying right now?” is probably valid anywhere in the world. Life is hard man. It’s ok to cry about it. And at the same time, it’s ok to dance about it. So watch this video if you need some bodily inspiration, and be sure to check out week two of my daily song project below that! See you next week kiddos.

Daily Songs

January 8

January 9

January 10

January 11

January 12

January 13

 

 

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It’s New Years Eve and I’m sitting at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. At my current perch, the Starbucks at the end of gate H, I’ve witnessed one impromptu wrestling team practice, two adorable psychiatric service dogs, and about 17 people who resemble Larry Bird in some meaningful way. I’m familiar with this land of a thousand Larrys— a decade ago I spent a semester of college at nearby Lake Forest College and I remember believing for a time that Chicago could be my permanent home. Now its just the middle point between Little Rock and New York.

I wrote that a week ago today, thinking I was going to post something that day, but I quickly got swept up in the New Years eve festivities as soon as I landed back in New York. I really enjoyed being back in Little Rock for the holidays— it still feels like home. While it used to be the place where I worked hard to patch together enough gigs and lessons to earn a musical livelihood, now it is a respite of relaxation. It is always replenishing for me to come back and eat home-cooked meals with my family, take hour long baths, watch an enormous amount of NBA basketball on TV, and get properly drunk at least once with my friends. Yet there comes a time during every trip home when the relaxation has turned into stagnation, and I’m ready again to hustle in the bustle of the big city. Thus, it was from the warm depths of my parents’ comfortable couch that I hatched this ambitious New York City sized New Year’s resolution:

I will write and record a song* everyday*.

I know what you’re thinking (because I can read minds). You’re thinking “Lucas, you doofus, you’re not going to record a song everyday— that’s crazy! I bet you only last like four days….”

First of all, there’s no need to call me names. Words hurt, man. Second of all, you’re a hater. Third of all, I’ve already lasted more than four days so you can go suck a lemon.

Next, you’re thinking, “why are there asterisk next to the words song and everyday?” Well, I’m glad you asked. Let’s start with the word song. The traditional definition of the word song is a piece of music that is meant to be performed by the human voice with or without instrumental accompaniment. That is, songs are meant to be sung (of course there are famous exceptions to this rule such as Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words). Instead of the traditional definition, I’m using the word song in the way 99 percent of Americans use it, simply to mean any standalone piece of music. For instance, the 1999 crossover techno hit Sandstorm by the Finnish DJ Darude isn’t technically a song by historical standards, but people the world over still call it a song whenever they exclaim “I fucking love that song!” or “I fucking hate that song!” Similar to Sandstorm, most of my musical works will be instrumentals that aren’t necessarily “songs” per se, but I’m calling them songs just like your iTunes library would. For I’m not quite pretentious enough to call this project something like “Daily Opus” (although I am clearly pretentious enough to write a long paragraph demonstrating that I know what a song is).

Yes, there’s also an asterisk next to the word “everyday” you noticed. I think we all know what everyday means (define everyday: every day). That asterisk is there because around day six of this adventure I realized that I needed to heed some old testament advice and take a day of rest if I want to sustain this level of output. So here at Lucas Murray Music, everyday actually means everyday except Sunday. I make the rules!

Anyway, it would be easy to write and record these songs, just tell you I did it, and then pat myself on the back. In fact it would be even easier to just straight up lie to you and say that I’m writing and recording these songs, when I’m really just on the couch watching the show Big Mouth over and over again. But for better or worse I’m going to share these songs with you every Sunday. Just check them out on my homepage or at the bottom of this post. I hope you like them! Also, if you want to use any of them for your personal projects please let me know! We can work it out.

Happy New Year!

January 1

January 2

January 3

January 4

January 5

January 6

 

 

Tuesday was a real doozy. My first day of the school year (perhaps my last first day of the school year ever) included the submission of my thesis, a four hour practice session, lunch with an ex-girlfriend, a composition lesson with Ariel Marx, and two classes— Colloquy in Music (in which we talk about and prepare for our final recording projects), and Jazz Arranging (in which we learn how to arrange music for a big band). In fact this whole week was a doozy. In addition to fulfilling my school requirements, I played two shows with the new band Kangaroo (which I joined this summer), auditioned for and made it into NYU’s contemporary vocal ensemble (I’ll be playing guitar as part of the backing band for various singers—I won’t be doing any singing myself), went to see a stellar R&B cover band at Groove, and capped the week off by getting good and drunk at a party at my apartment last night.

Despite having a week full of music, school, and socializing, I still feel like I should be doing more. I’m not even sure that I could be doing more, but I know that New York has a way of making me feel like I should be doing more. I think that no matter what field you are in, the talent level, the potential work opportunities, the endless list of things to do and places to see, the high cost of living, and the rapid pace of this city makes one feel like they should constantly be working and playing harder.

This attitude does not make for a comfortable existence. As I was discussing today with my roommate Delta (yes her name is Delta), I’ve felt more insecure this past year of living here than at probably any other point in my adult life. Yet this is not a negative. The things that are making me feel insecure— namely the high level of musical talent surrounding me and the uncertainty of my future after school— are the same things that are motivating me to work harder and get better. I didn’t move here because I thought it would be easy; I came here to learn and grow, and the discomfort of this place has in large part been my greatest teacher.

This is after all, a special, attractive kind of discomfort. It is not the discomfort of say being stuck at a tiresome party when you really just want to go home. It is more like the discomfort of finding someone at that party who engages you in a deep, honest conversation that challenges your core beliefs and assumptions about yourself (does that ever happen at parties?). It is a discomfort that is the opposite of complacency. Whereas complacency leads to stagnation, the discomfort of being in this pressure cooker of a city inspires me to action and offers me the feeling of being fully alive.

I’m not sure how long I will live here. I do know that after I finish school, I want to stay for at least as long as it takes for me to feel like I gave “making it here” (in that Frank Sinatra sense) my best shot. I might stay for one year or I might stay for fifty. I do believe that the longer I am living here, working hard, and being propelled forward by my ambition as well as my sense of insecurity and discomfort, the more likely it is that I will have a big break. For this is a special place, and I think it is realistic to believe that something unrealistic will happen here.

Two weeks ago today, we had a beautiful sunny Sunday in Manhattan. It would have been a perfect day to go for a stroll in Central Park, or go to the Union Square greenmarket, or take a trip on the Staten Island Ferry, or walk the High Line… And instead, I sat in my living room eating bagel bites and binge watching Game of Thrones. It was, after all, an international holiday:

I really wanted to catch up with the show in time for the season seven premiere so I could watch it with my roommates that night, but unfortunately as of noon that day, I still had eight episodes of season six to watch. I thought briefly that any dignified, self-respecting person surely would not even consider attempting to watch nine episodes (that’s 8 episodes of season six + the new episode) of any TV show in one day, yet I was unswayed by this conventional wisdom. Instead, I decided to conduct a social experiment asking the important question: what happens when a person watches 9 hours of Game of Thrones in one day.

I spent many years of my life in public school being forced to do science fair experiments so I have at least a vague recollection of the scientific method. I understand that a good experiment must be reproducible. So just in case you’re looking to replicate my experiment, here are the materials you’ll need:

  1. A TV or Computer.
  2. An HBO Go subscription. Doesn’t have to be your own—mine’s not.
  3. A cozy couch or bed. I chose couch.
  4. Plenty of snacks. This is crucial.

The next steps are pretty straightforward. Sit (or lie) on your couch (or bed), watch your show, eat your snacks, and record the rich tapestry of psycho-spiritual fluctuations that you will surely experience.

It didn’t take long for some of the results of this experiment to come in. In fact, before I had even begun the marathon I discovered an important principle: If you want to engage in guilt free reprehensible behavior, just call it a “social experiment!” Heck, sometimes you may even be rewarded for your sins. If you don’t believe me, just ask Morgan Spurlock— he was nominated for an academy award for eating McDonald’s for a month.

Armed with this liberating sense of shamelessness, I assembled the snacks and assumed my position on the couch. The first three or four episodes were easy enough. Game of Thrones is obviously a very watchable show, packed with with complex characters, compelling power struggles, gratuitous violence and nudity, and at least one moment per episode designed to make you say “oh shit” out loud. However, around episode five I began to get a little stir crazy. For my own entertainment, I compulsively started singing the plot of the show along with the musical score.

What can I say, I’ve got the creative itch y’all. Many (if not most) people do. I can’t sit and relentlessly consume so much media without having the strong desire to create something of myself. That’s why I was singing those stupid little ditties and also why I’m writing this blog right now. If you haven’t yet discerned this from virtually every single sentence of this blog post, I’m not a scientist. I’m an artist.

I’m well aware that that last statement may have sounded very pretentious, but I’m not claiming to be a great artist or even a good artist, I’m just affirming to myself and you readers that my approach is that of an artist and not of a scientist. I think the distinction is interesting. I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for anyone with the discipline, patience, and intelligence that it takes to be a scientist— personally, I don’t think that I have the fortitude for it. The scientist is concerned with discovering truth through a process of objective quantifiable observation of the natural world. She may spend many thankless hours measuring butterfly wingspan or orangutan bone density, but she does so in the name of contributing to the scientific community’s ongoing process of discovering the natural laws of the universe.

This is, in the least, my admittedly limited understanding and impression of the scientific endeavor. Like I said before, I am an artist, and as such I may not always (or even often) report the facts of life in their most objectively true form. Instead, my purpose and driving motivation is to create things that ring out as emotionally or even physically true. Essentially, as a musical artist, I’m doing my job if I have created something that you can feel in your heart or in your butt. And to prove that I at least attempt to accomplish this from time to time, and don’t just sit around watching popular TV shows all day, I’m going to share a couple more tracks from my ongoing Subway music project (see this post for an explanation). Thanks for reading my ramblings and I hope you enjoy the songs.