Songs For The Future You

Cleaning out one of my many junk drawers the other day, I found an old cassette tape with a handwritten label: Sunday Morning Sadness.

Luckily, we still have an old hifi with a cassette player in the attic. I put the tape in, got over the brief anxiety that the tape might get eaten, pressed play and closed my eyes.

They say time travel is not possible, but for a few moments it was 30 years ago and I was in my childhood home. The presence of my mother and sister talking in the other room was palpable.

I felt a wave of sensations from that small bedroom where the song was recorded. The lighting of the room, the texture of the walls, the floor and the makeshift desk. The way the ratty blinds refused to open and close smoothly, the way the window stuck, the squeaking of the door.

There was also me. 19 years old. Slightly hungover. A little stoned. A lot of confused.

It was such a strange and satisfying feeling to look into the past and see myself dealing with growing up. Wondering what to do with my life. Watching long-friendships grow out of themselves.

And most importantly – putting all of that aside and taking the time to record the music in my head.

No expectations. Never thinking about who might hear it. What it is good for. How it will sound. Simply and unknowingly documenting a snapshot of my most authentic self at that very moment in time.

Listening to it now, I am so happy and grateful for that afternoon. So happy to have such a personal diary entry to reflect on and appreciate how life has unfolded since then.

At some point, I moved out of my childhood home, sold the Tascam multitrack, got a “real” job and stopped recording. Eventually, I all but stopped writing songs. I certainly didn’t finish any songs for well over a decade.

I don’t have any musical diary entries for moving to Ireland or Germany, getting married, having children, September 11th, attending funerals.

Then the pandemic happened. Something about the lockdown helped me get back to the headspace of making music just to make music. Without judgment or expectation.

My playing is not great. The timing is off. Some of the words are stolen from a popular song. And the singing is oh-so-cringy.

But listening to it four years later paints an emotion-filled picture of what that time was like. There was so much we didn’t know. Having been through it makes it hard to imagine how innocent we were.

But this song of mine documents exactly what thoughts and emotions I experienced during those first days of lockdown. The personal value of that really only reveals itself with time.

Since then I’ve come to cherish the songwriting and recording habit as a form of wellness.

Documenting your authentic self in song is a great way to reflect on this crazy world and process anything and everything going on inside of you.

Your future self will be proud.


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