I hang with a great group of songwriter/amazing people who inspire and challenge me: the superfriends. Over the years the superfriends have established a grand tradition of goal setting, particularly in regards to the musical/writing life. Sometimes they are long term (ultimate life-long, three-year, one-year). Sometimes they are mid-term (six months, nine months), and when we go to Song School at Planet Bluegrass they are short term (this week). Usually we write them down and sign them. Then, we check in over the course of time and see where we stand.
On one hand, this is very light hearted. We like to tease each other mercilessly about how the goals are going. Sometimes a person (Andy) has strange and unobtainable goals and if the rest of us are unsuccessful in dissuading the goal from being formally set, we are very successful in reminding the goal setter (Andy) of the strange and unobtainable goal and asking how it is going (knowing that it is not going anywhere). On the other hand, the goals are serious and seriously helpful business. It is great for me to clarify what I want: what I want to do, achieve, learn, see, or experience. It is great for others to hold me accountable to those things; to encourage, inspire, help, guide, and remind me. It is great for me to see my friends working hard, struggling, and making magic happen.
Ultimately, we all want the others to do well and goal setting has been a way that is helpful in making it happen AND in ensuring that we see successes and are able to acknowledge them as intentional and hard fought, not just a thing that happened (Emily's pledgemusic campaign went live and is kicking butt--high five! Hope ordered business cards--high five!).
One of my goals was to spend some time analyzing great songs. I have never done this in a formal way, which is surprising. The poetry unit in my AP World Literature class was my favorite. I wish I could have taught a whole poetry class--totally my cup of tea. So why have I not looked at the songs I love with the same analytical eye as the poems I love? I know the danger of picking things apart too much (see this poem by Billy Collins and this song by Paul Jacobson), but I also know that to get better at anything, it helps to study the greats.
My original intent when I sat down this morning was to analyze the Shangri-Las song The Leader of the Pack, one of my all-time favorite tunes, and share my deep and poignant observations. I know it is a weird choice, but it has held its grip on me for like 35 years. I adore this song. I meant to write a short introduction and get to it. Now it is a long introduction and will have to stand alone for now, but I'm hoping it will be the first in a series of posts that actually include looking at great songs and figuring out what makes them that way. Stay tuned.
PS: You should tell me what songs would be on your list greats to study.
PPS: Andy is working hard on some really worthwhile goals.
What I'm reading
What I'm listening to
My Favorite Murder Podcast, Someone Knows Something Podcast, The Cars Greatest Hits