My Musical Evolution – Part 413 Conclusions

Posted by | Filed under My Musical Evolution | Dec 31, 2012 | 3 Comments

MusicHere we are on the last day of 2012. It has been a full year since I woke up on New Year’s Day with an idea that I would try to document My Musical Evolution.  I remember it so clearly that I cannot believe that it was a year ago.  I really do get a sense of some kind of temporal vertigo when I think of all the things that have happened while I worked on this project. Really. The season did a complete cycle, my kids went through 2 semesters of college each. I discovered some cool hiking areas not far from home. We saw movies. We had a multi-day power outage in July. The fall colors came and went. I went fishing in Michigan a couple of times. I rode my bike on the river greenway for the first time. A lot of stuff happened and yet it feels like it was all just a dream.

How cool was this experience?

It was highly enjoyable to force myself to take the time and walk through the music of my life from the beginning all the way to present day.  It was nice to reflect on a bunch of ancient memories of people, places, situations and the songs that served as the soundtrack.

For the most part it was fun to do. I especially enjoyed listening to all those albums from start to finish. As I commented about numerous times, the Shuffle and Storage features of modern media players have made the art of album consumption a rare activity. I know that I am guilty of shuffling a genre rather than listen to an album. This project reminded me that it was how we used to do it.

I really enjoyed thinking about all those old times, my old stereos and the early years of MTV. I still wish that they would produce a DVD series like MTV The Best Of 5 and it would be music videos from the first 5 years on the air but presented in a way that really captures the flavor of what it was like. Package it on 30 DVD’s that when playing, it would be like watching the channel in the early 80’s only with no commercial breaks.

I found it cool that thousands of people from over 100 countries have visited this site. I’m not sure what they’d get out of it given that it is somewhat personal but I hope that at the very least they heard a song that they never heard before and decided to pursue it.

What have I learned?

I’d like to have a couple of concrete things to say here about what seeing My Musical Evolution in this format has uncovered but I think I’m too close to the project to see anything like that.  It did make me realize that I don’t listen to music as much as I did before I got married. I truly intend to try to fix that. I also discovered that I miss listening to albums or rather listening to the albums that listened to when I listened to albums

Something I found interesting is more about the videos I used. It was very cool to see the evolution in a faux time lapse format. At the beginning, the videos were largely “live” performances on Ed Sullivan or The Midnight Special. Then there were a few animated music videos for early variety shows like Sonny & Cher. Most interesting to me was the launch of the MTV era and the rapid development of the music video. There was that peak in the music video production value then a return to more live performance oriented. Lastly YouTube show us the rise of the camera phone. This was quasi disappointing because in my search for videos to support more current music, YouTube is polluted with thousands of crappy footage shot by the audience with phones.

I guess one thing that I learned was that I’ve had a pretty decent life. All along I’ve had family, friends, music and stuff to make my time on your planet rather enjoyable and most memorable. Maybe I didn’t learn that but it was certainly reaffirmed.

The Best and Worst parts of this experience

The best parts as mentioned before were listening to the music again and really focusing on what life was like around those songs. I highly recommend that you try to duplicate this process in some way.  Try to stretch it out to cover an entire year. I think that way, you give yourself enough time to delve into it.  If you are 24 years old, dedicate 2 years per month. If you are 50 dedicate a week for each year. Don’t rush through. If possible, put on an album and write whatever comes to mind about it. How you feel about a song or who you were when you bought The Grand Illusion.

The worst part was that sometimes, I didn’t feel like I had the time to commit to it. I mean 413 posts in 366 days meant that most days had some kind of dedication to this project. Often I still felt rushed. I sometimes wondered if I should have dedicated 2 years to this project.  I think the absolute worst part was when I’d write for 45 minutes and WordPress would malfunction and I’d lose it all. I learned the value of frequent saves eventually.

What would I do differently?

I suppose that I would have planned it out.  The way it happened, I woke up on New Year’s Day with this crazy idea of doing some kind of project throughout the year. I quickly decided that tracing My Musical Evolution would be fun to do and interesting to see for some.  After about an hour of thinking about how to do it, I decided that the web would be an interesting choice. I felt that it would serve as a sort of online backup for the text and it would motivate me to see it through as it would be in the public eye. I feared that if I just did it locally, it would be easier to give up.  Another aspect of the online format was the ability to embed the videos from YouTube. I had just learned about embedding on another project. It made things more interesting because it gave me the opportunity to share the music that I was talking about which I think is the best part of this whole thing.

So as you see, it all ramped up very quickly and I think that had I spent a month or so in preparation, the final product would have been better. I may have set up a domain for this instead of just using one that I had lying around. I might have given more thought to the format. If you start at the beginning you’ll see that I was not completely convinced that I was doing this the best way. The tag cloud comes to mind. If you look at the bottom of the page, the tag cloud could have been used in such a away that the weight of various influences might have been reflected visually.

I would have mapped out a schedule.  By just letting it evolve on its own, it took me 10 months to cover only half of my life. This made me feel rushed to document the last 20 years. As a result, I don’t think that they were able to be as detailed as the first 20. Although the free association approach may have hade some therapeutic value. Mapping it out better would have prevented some grievous omissions.

Better editing. What you have been reading this whole time is the first and only drafts.  I’d put on some music then ramble on about what I was experiencing in regards to that music. One the one hand that makes for some pretty choppy reading that is lacking the traditional elements that provide continuity and a train of thought that can be followed. On the other hand, that is the nature of a Musical Evolution the music of your life doesn’t follow a predetermined course it bumps down the riverbed and get redirected by unforeseen forces.


Keep a music journal

I wish somebody would have told me to do this in 1972.  Find a nicely bound hardback notebook and use it to record your own Musical Evolution in real time. When you find yourself liking a song, write down the details. The song title, the artist, the date, how you first heard it, what you were doing, what you like about it, anything you can think of. When you buy an album, the same stuff. The album title, the artist, the date, where you bought it, how much it cost, why you bought that album, what you like about it, anything you can think of. Be faithful to it and in 30 years you’ll be able to look back and get a great snapshot of some great moments in your life.

Create a music circle

It is so awesome when you have a handful of friends that like some of the same music as you but also like a lot of other stuff that you might not be into. It gives you all a chance to share your musical discoveries and broadens your tastes. I give my friend Scott a hard time about all the Blues songs he likes but there are a bunch that I found that I like too and I never would have looked at them twice if he didn’t share them with me first.  In my case, a long weekend fishing trip twice a year is a great venue for us to share music. We get away from our typical lives for a few days and listening to music while fishing works really well.

Facebook birthday songs

This is something I’ve been doing for over a year now. When ever one of my Facebook friends has a birthday, I include a song with my birthday greeting. YouTube and Facebook make this very easy to do.  Sometimes I share a song that meant something to me and my birthday friend. Sometimes I share something that I just discovered. Sometimes I share something that I think is cool and that they may not have heard before. I become a boulder in the riverbed of their Musical Evolution. Who knows, maybe they’ll hear that Ray Lynch song and it alters their Musical Evolution in ways that they never expected. Not only them but their Facebook friends as well. It becomes like a giant semi-anonymous music circle and the birthday is a great opportunity to remember to do it.

Did I forget anything?

You bet. Like I mentioned above, the type on the fly nature of this project while having some free associative benefits suffers from lack of planning too. Part of me rationalizes this by saying if it was really important, you wouldn’t have forgotten it but that isn’t completely true. For example, when Oliver Stone’s movie The Doors came out, I went through a Doors revival that lasted over a year. During that time, I acquired the missing pieces of The Doors catalog and did some cool Doors themed mix tapes where I even blended in some archival interview stuff. But in hurried effort to cram 20-some years into 8 weeks I totally forgot to include that.

What is next?

I plan to take the next few weeks and go back through it from the beginning and edit things for spelling grammar and clarity. I think I’ll add links to where the music discussed can be purchased. If the winter is cold and lingering, I might get ambitious and post a complete list of my CD’s. I’ll also update broken video links. That is the worst part of working with YouTube, is that the videos disappear all the time.


Thanks for checking it out. Happy New Year!



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3 Responses to “My Musical Evolution – Part 413 Conclusions”

  • Melissa Irk says:

    Love the idea of sharing a video on birthdays through Facebook!! Thanks for the idea. I might have to try this one!


  • Bill says:

    It has been 3 weeks since I’ve looked at this site. I get a strange sensation when I do. For nearly every single day of 2012, I was working on this project or thinking about it and now with 413 posts completed and 2013 upon me, it seems strange to be without it. It is nice to not have it looming over me though.

    Still, there is that sense of loss. It is kind of like coming to the end of a good long book. You wonder what you will fill that void with and try to jump into something else.


  • Bill says:

    It has been a year and three weeks since the last time I posted to this site. I’ve looked at it briefly a couple of times since then. When I do, it makes want to go back over each post, update the broken links, fix the errors and expand where it seems appropriate. I wish there was a more stable way to present the accompanying videos than YouTube. I’d estimate that about a third of them are broken. Still, I’ve enjoyed looking at this stuff again.

    I’m also getting the desire to do another project similar in many ways yet I’m not quite sure. If I use this space, certain things like the Tag Cloud will lose some relevance and the overall theme might become muddied. Things to think about.




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