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

 

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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

 

 

After a month long hiatus, I’m back to blogging. In the past, after having taken a long break from blog writing, I’ve always come back to it with some grand declaration and a clear goal to enact (e.g. I’ll blog everyday, release a song every week, etc…), and I am tempted to do this yet again. We are after all still within the window of opportunity for me to tell you all about my multiple new year’s resolutions! I’ve asked around, and it seems like most of my friends are not as enthusiastic about the idea of new year’s resolutions as I am. Personally, I love to make resolutions. It feels great to set big goals, and dream of what my life will look like when I’m living as my peak self.

I’m also certain I could squeeze out a whole blog post simply by talking about the what, why and how of my new year’s resolutions. I’d feel great about myself and all my ambitious plans, and yet you the reader might actually feel a little bit worse. The best case scenario is that you’d get bored and just stop reading. The worst case is that you would think “Wow, Lucas sure is going to do some awfully cool stuff this year! What am I going to do? Not much. I suck. I hate myself. You know what, I hate Lucas too.” Look, I don’t want you to hate yourself, and I especially don’t want you to hate me, so instead of talking about all of my goals and (hypothetical) future achievements, I’m going to try the opposite approach and talk about some of my past shortcomings. Because a little dose of schadenfreude does a body good— it’s my New Year’s gift to you! You’re welcome.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve carried two (mostly subconscious) desires that have motivated much of my behavior: the desire to be liked, and the desire to be the best. In many ways, these desires have served me well in my life. I think I’ve generally behaved in a well-mannered, somewhat delightful way, and a lot of people have liked me because of this (or in the least, they’ve not disliked me). Additionally, I’ve put a lot of effort into being really good at things like music, sports, and school, and as a result I’ve been a relatively high achiever in these fields. And yet, for the past decade or so, as I’ve sought to create, sustain, and grow a vibrant musical life, I’ve discovered that these motivating desires have provided more hindrance than help.

Consider this: one of the best ways (if not the very best way) to improve at playing music, is to play with musicians who are better than you. Here at NYU, and in New York City as a whole, I am surrounded by musicians who are more experienced than me. I have ample opportunity to play with them in both impromptu and organized jam sessions all over town. And yet last semester, I consistently avoided these opportunities, because I have this desire to be one of the best in whatever realm I enter and it feels very uncomfortable for me to be one of the very worst. But if I really am serious about improving as a musician, I’ll quit ego-tripping right now and start getting comfortable with playing with people who are far better than me.

Ultimately I also wish to compose my own music and release it in to the world, and it would be a dream come true if I could earn a living by writing original music. Although it is a relatively rare livelihood, I don’t even think it is all that far-fetched. I know that I can write music that sounds pretty good, and I see numerous outlets for original music: movies, TV shows, video games, advertisements, live performances, or sold directly to an audience (who knows, maybe even old-school aristocratic patronage will come back into fashion). Yet success in any of these realms requires at least one common thread: the willingness to put my music out into the world. Sure, I’ve done this on a small scale— I’ve written some original songs, made some home recordings, and put them up on sound cloud. That counts right? No, not really. The stakes are too low. I’ll never truly know if people like it or dislike it, and that is the hurdle that I am hesitant to jump over. For I have this crippling desire to be well-liked and approved of, and I am afraid that if I put my music out into the world and really try to sell it, people just won’t like it. Yet the fact is, no matter what, some people will not like my music. It’s impossible to write universally loved music— go ahead and try; you’ll end up writing elevator music. If I really am serious about making music my livelihood, I’ll accept that many people are not going to like my music, and just put it out into the world anyway.

Yes, I’m a scared little piglet everybody— I’m afraid of not being the best and I’m afraid of not being liked. Yet I have some virtues as well. In the least, I have an awareness of my fears, and the gall to confess them to you all. I’ve shared these shortcomings with you because I want to move beyond them. As Louis Brandeis said—guys, wait, listen, I’m not going to act like I knew who Louis Brandeis was before I wrote this, I was just vaguely aware of this quote and so I looked up who said it. Anyway, as Louis Brandeis said, “publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” Well, this blog is my publicity, and you readers are the sunlight, here to help me clean up my act. Thanks for reading.