Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

Lovely weekend, topped off by a jam session with several friends, pictured here, hot & sticky even in my air-conditioned living room: Matt (percussion), Jessica (percussion and vocals), Joshua (vocals, piano), Debbie (vocals), and me.  We played/sang a bluesy version of "Eleanor Rigby", "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)", a samba version of "When You Say Nothing At All"... actually, a lot of the songs ended up with a Brazilian flavor to them, because Matt and Jessica brought their Brazilian percussion instruments with them. 

Let's see, what else did we play... "Sweet Home Alabama"... I don't even remember.  I had a panicky moment just before the jam when I realized I hadn't had the time to formulate or execute a plan of any sort for the evening.  No charts or even lyric sheets printed up, no song list aside from the one of all the songs I've "learned" this year, nothing.  I knew it would be ok because they are all my friends (also, because I made guacamole, and I make a really good guac for which people are willing to forgive me most of my sins), but I wanted to have a method, a plan, based on the personnel of the evening, and perhaps algorithms and stuff as well!  Conquerors don't go around without plans!  Arghh!

Again with the perfectionism.  I'm learning to treat it like a really annoying neighbor who talks a lot of shit but doesn't have any real power unless I listen to him, and actually has some really good ideas buried underneath all that flagellation (like, maybe I'll plan ahead next time if I have time).  He's not going to go away, but I can usually recognize him now, and ignore him.  Or, even better, make fun of him.  So, I'll keep having jam sessions.  It will still scare the crap out of me to host them and to participate in other ones.  I'll get better at planning them (or not) through trial and error.  With any luck, I'll get better at playing, too. 

A Note on Getting Out of My Head:
The past few weeks have been an interesting study in not over-thinking things.  I haven't had time to obsess about the music I've had to perform.  I've clicked my heels together and sent up a little prayer to the gods of accuracy and soul that what little time I've had to practice is enough to ensure that this octave passage, that 16th-note run, that groove, is there when I need it.  This is partly a function of me being able to trust my technique more in the past few months, and partly a function of not having any other choice.  Mostly, things landed really well in performance, and when they didn't, I recovered like a pro.  But when I wasn't practicing, rehearsing or performing, I wasn't sitting there worrying either.  That's a new feeling, scary and liberating at the same time - not obsess!?!?  What the hell should I be doing instead?  I think adding this song-a-day thing has tipped me into the volume of music - amount, not decibels - necessary to force me out of my head, and the urge to have jam sessions is the latest manifestation of that non-stuck-ness (that, and coining new words, apparently). 

Recent songs and quick thoughts about them:
"Amanda" (Boston): chosen because I asked my friend Amanda for suggestions.  Typical epic 80s ballad with the kind of soaring male vocals that make baritones bleed with tenor envy.  I like where it goes for the bridge: they've gotten us accustomed to hearing D resolve to E-minor during the chorus (Em / Am /, D / / / and repeat...), so it's not so much of a stretch to go to E major chord instead for the bridge.  Neat. 

"A Thousand Miles": a great piano-based song for me to use to work on solidifying the new technique.  I've been looking for a pop song to use, because, for some reason, when I learn things primarily by ear, the old, bad technical habits creep in.  But it's the same keys, and the same fingers playing them, so I need to find a way around that roadblock.  I love the drums on this song. 

Off to learn "Sweet Dreams" (Joshua started jamming on piano on this one, and I sang with Debbie and Jess, but I want to learn to play it too), and, if I have any juice left after that, "When I Fall In Love" - pre-1960, so a bending of my post-March-8 rules, but definitely an uber-standard.  Also, kind of a cheater song, given that I'm already quite familiar with it.  But, as Jess and I were discussing tonight, some of the fake books put in the alternate chords for you, which kind of takes the fun out of the chord substitution process.  So I'd like to play around with the harmony in addition to committing the song to memory.