Why collaborate at all? One could conceivably make more money not sharing the profits — if there are any — so why collaborate if one doesn’t have to? If one can write alone, why reach out? (Some of the most financially successful songs I’ve ever written were not collaborations, for example.) And besides, isn’t it risky? Suppose you don’t get along? Suppose the other person decides to take the thing in some ugly direction?
Well, as I said earlier, one big reason is to restrict one’s own freedom in the writing process. There’s a joy and relief in being limited, restrained. For starters, to let someone else make half the decisions, or some big part of them, absolves one of the need to explore endless musical possibilities. The result is fewer agonizing decisions in the writing process, and sometimes, faster results.
I’ve read through this whole post now several times and each time a new little nugget of truth is revealed. David Byrne remains one of my all time heroes.
This is one of the cleverest pieces I have read in a while. Even more so for what it does not say (“the pen is is mightier than the sword”) than what it does. It is like the perfect school piece on how to write – Tell a story in a few words as possible, avoid cliché, respect your audience and their time, etc. I have tucked this away for future reference because this is how all writing should be.
Many of my long time readers and those that follow me on Twitter and elsewhere, know how long and deep my love affair with Levenger runs. I have been a customer for over 20 years now. Words are not enough to describe the quality of their products, the attention to detail, or the outstanding customer service. Properly maintained, Levenger products are made to last a lifetime and then be passed along to your descendants for theirs.
I recently purchased a Levenger 5-Year Journal and it is true to every word stated until now. For those not familiar with how a 5-Year Journal works, there are Pages for 366 days, including February 29, with 1 page per day, with 5 line entries – one for each year. It allows just enough to highlight the bullet points of a busy day but forces brevity. It is like Twitter for a private and bygone era. There is no pressure to catalog every detail of life or how you are feeling. Want to simply write a single thought or idea? Well, that is OK too. The beauty is that, those who have felt the pressure of maintaining a journal in the past (like myself) will likely feel far less so with such a low barrier to entry. Take just a few seconds at the end of the day and write what strikes you.
The quality is extraordinary. The paper is bright, thick and takes fountain ink well with no feathering. The binding is clearly meant to last as a living document of record to be passed down for generations. The cloth and leather make it a stately addition to any desk or shelf. If I have one concern it is this – will I have enough for all of my years. I am seriously considering buying 10 more right now, for fear that I may not be able to 50 years from now.
Van Halen buried a special clause in the middle of their contract. It was called Article 126. It read, “There will be no brown M&Ms in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.” So when Roth would arrive at a new venue, he’d walk backstage and glance at the M&M bowl. If he saw a brown M&M, he’d demand a line check of the entire production. “Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error,” he wrote. “They didn’t read the contract…. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show.”
I have been aware of this for years but it is always a good reminder. Having attended a show on just about every Roth era Halen Tour, I can vouch that they were always some of the most impressive and deftly executed rock shows ever staged.
That said, many other bands and performers use similar methods to ensure not only technical perfection but also give them an easy out of their contracts with a venue should anything not be just so. People often look at this stuff as arrogance but, as you can see above, most of the time it is simply to ensure that all parties are paying close attention to detail.