Saturday, September 7, 2013

Another silver anniversary: If I Can't Be

Song link at the bottom, just like it was fruit in yogurt!

I've written songs (goofy songs, at that) since I was a kid. I also got into the habit of keeping a journal relatively early on.  So I have a pretty good sense of when various songs of mine were written. As I barrel through my 40s, some of these songs are getting pretty old. It's not surprising, of course, living as we do in a universe where time passes.  Still, anniversaries are things it's been interesting (for me at lest) to keep track of, as I've done both in depth and in more cursory fashion.

This past Thursday (the 5th) was the 25th anniversary of one of the songs I associate most strongly with college. I'm writing this post on the day itself, but I'm not posting it until the weekend since I'm doing the Ceres Google Hangout with the Dawn E/PO team today and want to keep my Ceres post up for an extra day or so. So we'll celebrate this birthday over the weekend. :)

I was a drummer first and foremost (and really, only) when I got to college. I dabbled a little bit with a goofy Casio keyboard, but never had lessons. I couldn't sing (still can't) and couldn't read music (still can't, unless tabs count). But I did have the foresight to decide that if I was going to procrastinate in college I'd do it with something useful-- learning to play guitar.  The floor I lived on had a communal 3-string guitar, which no doubt led to bad habits I kept when moving on to a 6-string.

In any event, I wrote a couple of songs on the 3-string guitar, which I inflicted on my dorm-mates while sitting in the hallway trying to learn to play. Two of them, Katrina and the Zen Master and Beneath the Milky Way, have both been recorded a la Gedankenband. But the first song I wrote, 25 years ago this week, was this one: If I Can't Be.

I played it a lot in 1988-89, but as I came up the learning curve on the guitar and wrote other songs it fell out of rotation, so to speak.  It didn't help that the 3-string got "fixed" and became a 6-string, and while If I Can't Be is pretty easy with three strings, it gets daunting very quickly for a novice with six strings (at least this novice).

I have a couple of very early recordings of this song (from 1989 and 1990) but both are so cringe-worthy I can't imagine putting them up here.  Instead, here's a newly-recorded Gedankenband version, which may (eventually) end up on the next album/EP/single:

If I Can't Be

(Edited 16 Feb 2014, new pointer for If I Can't Be)