Before '52 Songs' I'd begun to feel like a liar. If you call yourself a songwriter you should be writing songs that will be heard. One or two a year was just not enough commitment. I kept returning to my old songs. It was easy because people seem to like them just fine. I needed something to force me into being a songwriter on purpose; to stop feeling like a liar.
This was honest (just ask my wife). '52 Songs' was risky for me with many fearful Wednesdays having no idea where a song would come from. Some appeared instantly and I finished easily and some I felt I was forced to finish. Some songs were complete surprises and some led to other surprises (the melodica, the sand paper blocks and the phone book drum). It was a year of being open to the surprises in the moment. It was honest that way.
This was scary. I was caught off guard at how much I liked the first ten songs. Suddenly I felt the bar was raised and writing any "slacker" songs would seriously bother me. The commentary had really kicked in too. I was amazed and touched by the thoughtfulness that went into some of the comments and I felt my end of this deal was my best effort. Scary - like I was writing songs in front of audience.
This was fun. Fearful Wednesdays resolved into grateful Thursdays when I'd post the new song. I learned to take encouragement from your comments. Wednesday night's flaws in my songs turned into Thursday's revelations. Flaws could be overcome- even become favorite things for some of you. Not perfect enough? Have faith. I learned to live by "perfect is the enemy of done" and the deadline became my friend. I let go. I learned to turn the page regardless of how I felt Wednesday night.
It was fun to write and record songs in odd locations: a wood carver's shack, a granite outcropping, a mountain meadow, a monastery, a city sidewalk and a motel room. It was fun to figure out my studio too. I was forced to solve technical problems and learn new tricks. I became a better recording artist.
It was good to share the journey. My wife spent many Wednesday nights listening to my final ideas, which either sealed the deal or exposed problems I needed to fix. It was fun to write songs about people I care about, in real time with their lives. It was nice to have many of you encourage me in person during the year.'52 Song in 52 Weeks' was always about putting myself in a place I'd feel accountable to others. It worked. Thank you for helping me make it to week 52.
Most of the 52 songs of years 2009 and 2012 can be heard on the James Hersch bandcamp homepage. You can also buy any song or the whole album as well.