Remember when I punched out 1:50 of low-quality video and incredibly simple yet charming musing on the inability of Italians to queue? That was kinda funny.
It had a semi-positive response in the world of social media. And all that external validation translated into just the tiniest speck of internal validation, which was nice.
It’s a feeling I’ve not had for a long time – people telling me I’d done something good, people expressing approval. Perhaps most importantly, nobody telling me that I was a dick or that I should stop trying. That Facebook cull appears to have worked in that sense.
So within 36 hours I’d written and recorded this bad boy. Buoyed by the initial success of my low-investment ukulele rant, I thought I’d try my hand at an old aspiration of mine – musical comedy. In the past it hadn’t gone too well for me (because of the aforementioned abuse and my own inability to take myself seriously). But I fancied another go! So I hatched this idea, to play the part of a man who is in love with a kind of stonework popular in the early stages of the Roman Empire. It’s funny because you don’t fall in love with stonework, you fall in love with people. How queer!
So yeah. But it turns out a mildly diverting premise, fleshed out over the course of about four hours, does not a comedy song make. It’s too exposition-y, it’s lacking in jokes or explanation, it requires a lot of prior knowledge… it’s neither comedy nor high art.
But I didn’t seem to care about that. Within the space of 48 hours, then, I seem to have gone from “people’s funnyman” (humour me) to that artist who moves away from his primary output and goes off down some vague artistic track in a very self-indulgent way. That’s what it was. My thoughts were along the lines of “I’ll post this again, and then people will love me again!”. Sadly it wasn’t to be so.
Regardless, I sat down again today, determined to write another song. But this time there was none of that verve that inevitably comes with external appreciation. None of that “just do it, it’ll be awesome”. All that was left behind in the wake of this moderate failure – as I perceive it – is that all-too-familiar nagging sense of “you’re not good enough”. I am not a fan of that feeling.
I had hoped, in this instance, to write a song entitled “insecurities in G”. I was off to a good start; I’d already decided on a key. The first few lines, I decided while sitting on the toilet early this afternoon, would be about my recent complications buying slim jeans accidentally, despite not being slim. What larks. Much comedy. Such humour. Wow. I got a couple of lines down, a catchy chord progression, slightly more up-tempo without being incomprehensible.
Then I hit a block where I didn’t type anything for 90 seconds, and I wanted to cry and throw my guitar away and never write a song again.
It’s possible to get very lost in the space of four minutes. I went on the hunt for inspiration – to my favourite musical comedians, and to my favourite serious musicians. I even decided to bite one particular bullet and check out the YouTube channel of a friend of mine who has been writing songs and recording acoustic covers for the better part of a year. She’s quite good and it made me sad.
A study in self-pity
I was briefly moved to try and write a serious song. After all, I’m very interesting and deep and introspective and I have a lot of interesting things to say and original angles on stuff. Or do I? No, probably not. Shut up shut up shut up. Christ you’re boring and stupid and fat.
I think part of my problem is that I’m constantly thinking, “how will this be received?”. At that point I imagine an amorphous blob, an amalgam of all the people who have ever told me that I’m anything short of amazing and incredible. Part of me’s thinking “what if they see it and criticise you? The world will literally end!” and that leads to the weird belief I always hold that if something isn’t perfect right away, if you’re not amazing at something on your first try, there is simply no point in going any further. And I need to look at that.
But not yet. For now I’m just going to lie down and try and find that sense of worth. That sense that hey, actually, people do think you’re vaguely amusing. People do think you’re worth sharing oxygen with. Maybe.
Maybe I need to be thinking more along the lines of: I think I’m worth something. I think I’m not a waste of oxygen. I think I’m funny.
More to come.