Letters From Hamburg: Next Step, Studio

by Kevin Burton

   Hamburg is a city in Germany about twice the size of Columbus, Ohio. Don’t know too much else about it.

   Except that it was the proving ground that turned the Beatles from a pretty good club band to the best band of the rock and roll era.

   Best band of the human race era probably. 

   The Beatles played marathon nine-hour sets there and really honed their craft.  I don’t now and never will compare to them. But as mentioned previously here, I have invoked Hamburg in my effort to put a lot more hours, a lot more effort, into my music before it’s too late (Taking The Last Train To Hamburg, March 13).

   I have enjoyed my metaphorical time there. I practice at least 12 original songs every day. There’s nothing sacred about this, but the pattern that has emerged is I warm up, practice three originals, then play two cover songs from my “practice songs” play list that Alexa Myers built for me.  (Alexa says she doesn’t have a last name. I gave her the name Myers.)

   I may or may not sing all or parts of the cover songs based on how much voice I have that day.  Repeating this four times gets me up to 12 originals.  Any originals that don’t go well I set aside for extra attention at the end of the practice. There is always at least 20 minutes left at the end of this process.

    I always try to play “My Music” by Loggins and Messina near the end of practice.  It’s one of the best love songs to rock and roll that I know and it’s a great attitude song for me on good days and bad days.

   So things are looking up musically. And now, ready or not, I have a tentative date set in early May to see a local artist development guy to get an assessment of my stuff.  As long as I get my second vaccination shot as scheduled before then, I’ll be good to go.

   You hear people talking about their bucket lists all the time.  I could come up with one if I had to. But this music thing is really it for me. It’s my only bucket thing. It been my dream for a long time.

   After I made the studio plans, you can imagine the energy that went into my next practice.  I doubt I played or sang any better than the day before, but I sang with hope and purpose.  Now I have (or will have) the ear of an actual industry professional. 

   One of the next steps is to decide which of my songs I will present.  What goes into that series of decisions will be how marketable I think the song is, how well I can convey it and how much it means to me. 

   I love these songs like the children I never had. I don’t want them to die when I do. Like all children, they talk back to me at times, misbehaving, suggesting changes. 

   Besides song selection there is other work to be done before the studio consultation, typing lyric sheets for one.

   In college they called me “the gutless wonder” for showing flashes of musical talent but lacking the confidence to make anything happen.  Maybe now I should write that hit song called Gutless Wonder.

    Think of the popular music you have heard and enjoyed. Some of it was made by people with other-worldly talent, virtuosos who couldn’t miss with their music if they tried.

   Other songs, you listen to, analyse, they might be a little more accessible.  Sometimes you think “I can do better than that, or at least as well.”   It’s something I have always wondered. Can the best of my music stand alongside some of the popular favorites.

   Music is a half skill for me. I didn’t get the complete package.  This process may teach me that I’m just not good enough. I flunk stage presence completely.

   If I do anything at all, we’re probably looking at writing songs and selling them to others to perform. 

   But it’s just good to have some possibilities presented and to dream that dream one last time.

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