Recording Journals: The Making of the No Schedule Man CD

Recording Journal Vol. 50: “The End (And the Beginning)”

By July 10, 2010No Comments

Well, we did it. No matter what script the future writes, I know in my heart that I set a goal, I stuck with it through thick and thin and I darn well got the job done. On June 26th, we (me, Kevin Gorman and Alyssa Sestric) did a show at the London Music Club, played songs from our new “No Schedule Man” CD, and I’ll be damned if we didn’t have copies of the darn thing to sell.

We did it.

And no one can ever take that away.

Over a year ago, KG and I set a goal and set out on the task. Bit by little bit, we inched closer to fulfilling our objective. At times, it seemed like we’d never get there. But we did. We did it. And if I may so, I feel we did a fine job, too.

It still hasn’t really sunk in yet. But we did it.

I’m proud of that.

The only trouble is that the completion of our project arrived in conjunction with the poorest health I’ve encountered in a good long while. Coincidence? Mmmm … that’s up for debate. However I’ve documented it in this blog throughout these last few months, so there’s little need to go into too much detail again, other than to remind you that there was a hospital visit at the end of May which necessitated the rescheduling of our CD release from June 12 to June 26 (which cost us scores of people, including members of my family who were planning to attend the show as originally scheduled). I then encountered a setback a few weeks ago (one week before the rescheduled CD release on June 26th) with a strep infection that required another run of antibiotics. Stupidly, I didn’t say anything about that little spell (except to my doctor) because I didn’t want to cast any doubt upon the rescheduled date either. And of course this all went along with the herniated discs in my back that have been delivering debilitating sciatic nerve pain in my left leg since the beginning of May.

Looking back, I see now that I should have shelved the CD release until at least the fall. That’s easy to see from the outside. But when you’re the one who’s dreamt of it your entire adult life, and when you’re the one who has worked at it for a year or more; and when you’re the one who has made commitments to others to get the thing done; and when you’re so close to reaching out and touching what you’ve worked for … well, you feel you should suck it up and do it.

So that’s what I did.

And I’ll be honest: I don’t know that I did the right thing.

I’m not sure I really enjoyed it as much as I should have, but I did what I said I was going to do. Perhaps it’s a flawed perspective but it matters to me, and it’s more than many people I’ve observed would have done. So for me, it counts for something.

Despite the leg and back pain, I did get through the night on the 26th. Though we made our mistakes (due to the fact that I was too sick to rehearse properly leading up to the event), I thought we played reasonably well that night. No, actually, I know we did really well. I’m exceptionally proud of KG and Alyssa, who joined me on stage.

And, yeah, I’ll say it: I’m proud of myself too.

This has been a great learning experience. Many people have been telling me to “slow down.” I thought I was doing that when I cut out my 5-day-a-week radio job on BX 93 back in February. Turns out I need to cut back some more.

When it comes to people telling me to “slow down,” I have found that my true friends say it and mean it, no matter whether it affects them or not. And then there are others who tell me to take care of myself out of one side of their mouth and then immediately ask me for something out of the other side. In fact, there’s one person in particular who I thought was my friend, and he left me five desperate-sounding voice messages on my cell phone at a time when he knew I’d been taken to the hospital. Funny thing was that I busted my butt to help him as soon as I got out of the hospital. And what I got for my trouble was prolonged ill health and more demands from that same person.

It’s my own fault. I take full responsibility. And I will correct it. But I also know from experience that, people like that; you really can’t help them. It’s upsetting, but you have to take your lumps and move on. The alternative is to never trust anyone again, and I fundamentally don’t believe in that.

It’s a shame, but it’s also the reason why songs like “Do Better” and “Awake (But Not Alive)” come to life. And when you hear my rock songs (maybe some time in the next year or two), well … I’ll just say that it’s been good therapy for working through some relationships with people who are convinced they know better.

All that aside, the fact remains that those close to me are correct. I do need to slow down. I’ve been trying. I have cut out most of my music-related efforts until such time as I can feel well again. I’ve slowed my pace somewhat with my company, CPT Entertainment, and have found my business partners to be entirely supportive. I’ve been going to physiotherapy every other day for the last couple of weeks and as a result I’m noticing incremental improvements in my leg/butt/back pain. And after weeks of being awake all night and finding what little sleep I could manage on the family room couch with my feet on a nearby end table, I have finally arrived at the point where I can manage a few hours’ sleep in my own bed. That alone has made an incredible difference in my sense of well being.

And so here I am, at the end of the journey to complete a CD of original songs. I did it. There’s a whole pile of them sitting in the corner of my office, about ten feet away as I type this. And yet here I am: physically broken down and mentally worn out from all that I’ve done. I acknowledge victory in getting the CD done but I have also, reluctantly, conceded defeat in terms of how I feel.

But I will correct it.

In fact, I believe the whole situation to be healthy. My feeling is that I am now paying for far too many years of running too hard, trying to fulfill unrealistic expectations that I had set for myself, and listening too much to the people who tell me one thing but mean another. Ultimately, it’s all my responsibility. And I will fix it.

As for the CD, I’m now at the end of the first part of the journey. And as such, this will be the final entry in a year’s worth of what I’ve called “recording journals.” There hasn’t been any “recording” in quite some time. I’ll keep entering a journal, as I’ve come to enjoy and value the experience, however I’m not going to promise that I’ll deliver one every week. Silly as it sounds, I’ve learned that the only person that expectation matters to is me. So I’ll submit more notes down the road. But I’m not sure what they will be called or when they will arrive. But they will arrive when the time is right.

Whenever that is.

The next logical step is promotion and performance of the songs on the CD. And I’m excited about that part of it. But I also realize that it’s now time to back away from it before I get going on part two of this adventure. The first priority is to get well. After that, I’ll put together a plan and get back out to where I might find some people willing to listen. Until then … who knows.

In closing, I will say that for the most part, I’m very pleased with the CD. There are songs I wish we could tweak some more, but I’m not going to tell you which ones they are. However I will tell you which songs I feel turned out the best compared to my original vision: “Sunny Day in November,” “Bagley Avenue” and “Kevin’s Prayer.” I’m really happy with those three numbers. I am also extraordinarily proud of “Song for Sean,” but for different reasons which you may have already read about. If not, go back a few months in this journal and you’ll find the stories, along with the reason for the “Celebrating Hope” campaign, which is also waiting in the wings, ready to go whenever I am.

And so ends another adventure. And what an adventure it’s been. I am so entirely grateful to Kevin Gorman for sharing his time and talents, and for all the people who contributed in some small way to helping me achieve my dream of completing the “No Schedule Man” CD. I did it and now I will always have it. Forever.

In the end, ironically, I realize that I really could stand to learn from the main character that I created in the CD’s title track. The truth is that “No Schedule Man” and I are complete opposites. And although he is a creation of my imagination, I also envy him and aspire to be more like him. I wonder: how is it possible that you can create something totally unlike yourself and then want to learn from your own thoughts?

Strange, isn’t it?

I just have to keep reminding myself: no plan is all part of the plan. I’ll get there when I get there, if I get there at all.

All day, all play.

Sound advice. I think I’ll take it.

Thank you for reading. See you on the road … whenever I get there.

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