The Ice Of Texas

Feb 19, 2021

There has been something.a little weird about looking out the window in Austin at the snow coming down while knowing four of the five top stories in the New York Times were about the weather in Texas. Here at Casa Fretboard we've been extremely fortunate not to have lost power or, as of this writing, had anything go amiss with the pipes. But that's the thing about extreme weather, which around here usually runs more to things like hurricanes: the aftermath often proves just as difficult, and even though the weather is due to warm up soon and stay that way, there are plenty of people struggling with burst pipe damage, the stores are cleaned out, and everyone will be boiling their drinking water for the next several days. All of which is just to say, I appreciate all the inquiries I've had about the situation, and for now, my immediate circle is doing ok.

That said, it's been kind of an epic hiatus from the clockwork machinations of the Fretboard enterprise. Having grown up in New England, you won't catch me driving on uplowed roads, and while you'd think being home for a week would be conducive to getting something done, the lack of power and consequent loss of internet means even virtual school has been cancelled. And I hate to miss out on the action, when there's action to be had, so I've played scrabble, walked the hound, and helped spearhead the Great Sled Hill Hunt Of 2021. It turns out, there are not that many places with the right pitch and length for sledding in our neighborhood, and we didn't really have the right gear. But, like stalking the perfect tan, it's the pursuit that matters, and for my money, those couple hours spent crunching through the frozen snow with kids, dogs and neighbors were just as worthwhile as the few good runs we did get in.

So work took a hit, and February Album Writing Month took a hit. After rocketing out of the gate with four songs the first week, the second week I only got one song done – about a particularly affable goose; I can explain – so with only nine days left, I've got nine songs to go. Which is, of course, a song a day, unless I try something crazy like writing three songs a day for the next three days just to get my groove back on. Either of which would be realistic in a world where I had nothing else to do, but clearly I don't, if you catch my double-negative drift. It's my tenth year of Album Writing Month, so I hate to go out with a whimper, even if I can claim extenuating circumstances. One solution, of course, is to write nine bad songs – the Contractual Obligation Album approach. But there's no point to that; the idea is to get some decent songs out of the experience. Then again, if I did resolve to just write nine bad songs, who knows what the harvest might be? I could surprise myself. Unlikely, but possible.

The final option is to pivot, and just create nine tracks. Once, under deadline to create a library of cues for a show called Shipping Wars, I clocked into the studio around 9am and didn't leave until two the next morning; somehow I managed to write and record five complete, multi-tracked two-minute pieces in those seventeen hours. Get on a roll, and you can just kind of make stuff, it seems. So it's possible to still meet this deadline, if I redefine what the parameters are. I've always considered the mission to create fourteen songs, meaning music and words, but creating nine cool things, if music only, would be, I think, an acceptable alternative in a month as weird as this one.

Under the circumstances these are, as my friend Rich would say, uptown problems, so if all I get done the next few days are more dog walks and meticulously hand-scrubbed dishes, so be it. In the meantime, I hope wherever you are, you're not too snowed in, rained out or otherwise chivvied about by the vicissitudes of of the natural world.