Rendered Fat Content


Sakai Basai 酒井 梅齊:
The Sand-Carrying Festival [Sunamochi Matsuri] (1856)

"It's already far too late to have properly filed my history the first time."

Creating this set list involves considerable dredging. Had I properly filed my finished pieces, I might just scroll back through a pre-existing list and choose, but I did not maintain a list of completed works. I have multiple lists of completed works, none complete themselves, and not all even accessible any more due to obsoleted file structures and operating systems. Anything once saved as a WorkPerfect file is perfectly inaccessible now. I have paper backups which have fared little better, since the lists and, indeed, the actual lyric sheets seem spread over a considerable geographical area, some essentially unfindable. Seeking hard evidence of the existence of any specific song becomes a slog slowing filling with self-recriminations. It's already too late to do anything right the first time. Some pieces have been lost to the ages since their inception.

It's no great tragedy when I lose evidence of some past creativity.
I once wrote what I then considered to be a great song, one about performing on open mic night stages. It was spirited and more positive than that experience tended to actually be, but I felt that I'd captured some of the spirit that used to visit me when I'd perform there. They always seemed like a big deal, like I might be discovered that night, whatever discovered might have entailed. I was always on my best behavior and approached these casual opportunities very formally, only performing songs I'd practiced to the point I could perform them flawlessly, an especially important point because stage presence tends to twist a tune out of intended shape. Time moves differently beneath spot lights. It often moves faster than normal. Consequently, one might find they have played a three minute song in just under two minutes unless they've practiced performing it to the point where local time variation has no influence.

Writing each proved to be a mysterious process, familiar after decades of practice, but hardly replicable. The idea would visit and take root, then haunt me until I'd managed to flesh it out. While Dredging around looking for the final set of lyrics for the song I wrote for my dearly departed daughter's wedding, I happened upon this exposition, written contemporaneously, describing what it was like for me trying to write the song. I have not yet located the finished lyric sheet in my infamous random access filing system, but this story very properly describes my effort.

I experience the same difficulty trying to keep track of my finished stories as I have Dredging up finished songs. I have not yet learned how to categorize things into hierarchical form. I know that computer scientists and designers have been trying for over a generation to convince us how we really should be parsing our world, but some of us (I suspect, many of us) have not yet understood the memo. Our world, my world, does not appear in ordered hierarchies. I cannot quite decide what label to scribble on which tab. The Muse maintains tidy file cabinets. I maintain ill-labeled boxes. We once hired an organizer to put my many papers in order, but it turned out that I would need to figure out what order I wanted them to be retained in. She left behind boxes simply labeled David's Missl Writing. My hard drive's similarly organized, so as I try to find songs to consider for my Set List, I'm bedeviled by my own historical randomness. The final list, I'm confident, will show up with teeth marks from a dredge on its face. It's already far too late to have properly filed my history the first time. There are no second chances.

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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