Recently, a few people I knew at Dartmouth got back in touch with me. I haven't really heard from them in 10-15 years. I find myself summing up the last decade of my life in an e-mail message. It's odd that it is so easy to do.
An even more humbling experience? Going back through all the music I've worked on during that time period. I compiled two data CDs - one of stuff I've "worked on" as a producer, engineer, or sideman; the other is stuff I wrote or co-wrote. About 100 tracks between the two of them. And that's not everything, just the tracks I felt merited some notice.
Think you're good at what you do? An "OK" artist? Go back and look at your old stuff. Things you did a even a few years ago. Ouch.
It's not all crap. There are a few things that surprised me with their quality. Then again, "even a broken clock is right twice a day". There's a good 10-15 tracks on each disc which aren't too embarassing.
Ultimately, I end up reflecting on what I've done with my life so far.
Last night I watched "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind", the film adaptation of Chuck Barris' unauthorized biography. A moody, slightly disturbing film. On the DVD, Barris talks about how he was going to create one last game show, called "The Old Game". In the game, 3 old men would sit onstage, each with a loaded gun. They'd all look back on their lives, at what they'd done, who they had been. In Barris' words, "the winner would be the guy that didn't blow his brains out."
Many famous composers are known for a single work - Ravel's "Bolero", Pachelbel's "Canon in D", Satie's '1st Gymnopedie". Of course, there's much more to these guys than a single work. But for one reason or another, that's what people focus on. Their one big hit.
I wonder what mine is.