A review of my song, Of Love and Fear, as told through the rejections I received from music magazines… Because there is nothing like rejection to inspire clarity in our thoughts and actions.

“The song doesn’t quite have enough substance in the arrangement for me and I am looking for something more accomplished in the songwriting and musicianship. I also don’t feel the vocal delivery and melody is strong enough. Thanks for submitting.” Podcart

So, I LOVE THIS COMMENT. It is very representative of the world we live in today. Basically we have the politically correct and the just-don’t-give-a-fuck bomb throwers, trying to figure out how to coexist. Now a days, the politically correct are just not going to be heard, so they are trying to be bomb throwers, but in a civilized, acceptable manner. Editors in general have to be able to shred your work to pieces. So what you have in this first comment is a politically correct editor setting off his bomb.

You must have seen the clips of Andrew Gillum’s debate with Ron DeSantis where he said, “First of all, he’s got neo-Nazis helping him out in the state. He has spoken at racist conferences. He’s accepted a contribution and would not return it from someone who referred to the former president of the United States as a Muslim n-i-g-g-e-r. When asked to return that money, he said no. He’s using that money to now fund negative ads. Now, I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”(Vox)

Gillum was so smooth that it took a lot of the violence out of the fact that he was, rightfully by all accounts, ripping DeSantis to shreds. After Gillium was done, DeSantis’ face looked as if he was thinking, “oh shit, I am a racist!”

Yeah, so that was way off topic, but what I was getting at was style. In his comment to me, the editor of Podcart explained that my song didn’t have enough substance, musicianship, or vocal chops as well as melody. That was a very nice way of saying that the song sucked and has none of the qualities that a decent song should possess. But he or she said all of these things in such a polite way and with a thank you, that after it was over, I was like, “No thank you!”

I once wrote a song for a project and asked a friend to come and play on it with me and when he came he said he liked it but was confused about two things: the beat and the melody. We have figured out all kinds of nice ways for conveying that we think something is crap while trying not to offend anyone.

“Thanks for sending. There was some cool elements in this song but overall I think the whole thing needs to be tightened up a little more to feel more complete.” Rock the Pigeon Music Blog

Rejection is the tip of the spear in our battle with an illusory world, our ego, a fate unclear. It cuts through the bullshit I sometimes think is important. I have never been scared of failure. Instead I embrace the possibilities it provides. For me, if you don’t have the chance to mess it up, then it’s not really fun at all.

I used to be the harmonium player at Amma’s San Ramon ashram. I spent 16 years there, almost all of which I have since blacked out. (Hey, now I’m at the flagship, I can forget about all of the minor league years.) But one thing I remember clearly is that I preferred not to know the songs but to just wing it. That way, there was always a possibility of messing up and it would be that much more exciting. Maybe not so exciting for the singers that I was accompanying, but hey, simple pleasures, right…

“Very nice lyrics. Realize that what you were going for but just a bit of a miss with the recording. Think your lyrics deserves better than that. But that’s just us. All the best.” Comeherefloyd

Well, since we are already about 600 hundred words in, let’s go back and start at the beginning. As many of you know, I recently uploaded a bunch of my songs to BandCamp, so as to share with whoever is interested in hearing from the other side of my heart. Most of the songs are just me and my guitar. Because I am not at all about technique and more about the words I’m conveying, I put myself into the folk/blues box believing that it allowed me to be less ashamed with the belligerent nature of my singing.

“Hi, Thank you for your submission. We liked the song. However, the song sounds like it was recorded in a home studio. There is nothing wrong with that. However, we only feature music that is recorded professional. Sorry for not being able to accommodate “Of Love and Fear” on our playlists at this time.” PopFiltr

Being the ballsy guy that I am, I then sent one of my belligerent recordings out to twenty music blogs for the possibility for review. It was very quick into the process that I realized I had set myself up for twenty rejections.

“I can very much appreciate the vulnerability here, and some really poignant and interesting lyrics; some great rhymes. I think for its part, the acoustic guitar does a great job – the strings aren’t too new, it’s a compelling delivery, but I don’t get enough dynamic range from the production approach. It’s very live-sounding, which is great, but I wanted just a little bit of sparkle from some other elements.” Chill Filtr

And they are completely right. The recordings are crap. The production is crap. The songs are not built up and lack dynamics. And I forgot for a moment why I even released the songs. To share with y’all.

“I appreciate the acoustic style, unfortunately the recording style is not a natural fit for us.” Ear To The Ground Music

It is funny how easy it has become for me to take rejection and criticism on my writing and music but how I still can’t be told that there is too much salt in my soup. Maybe that is because, although I write stories and music that I love and hope that their might be an audience for them, when it comes to cooking, I am putting my heart into something that I want everyone who eats it to love. With my books, if you don’t know the basics about the devotional path and guru disciple relationships, then you are probably going to be pretty confused with my stories. But with food, everybody eats. You of course want everybody to love it. But that is just not possible because everyone has different tastes. Because the intent that goes into the offering is different, the way the criticism is received is also different.

“This song needs more production help. But you can stay in touch by following us on Facebook at Americana Highways.” American Highways

And she did indeed reach out separately – which is the awesomest rejection ever – to see if I wanted to get in contact with people that could help me out, recording wise. But I’m an ashram guy. I’m doing my thing from my tiny room in a fishing village in the very south of India. I wouldn’t actually want to change that. I love my day job of cooking for the ashram. I love writing. The only way to make the dream even greater is if a great singer sung one of my songs and took it to where it deserves to go.

“This is very cool. Love the lyrics and the stripped down vibe. Just not sure it’s for us atm. Thnx.” Santa Rosa Records

I am a songwriter and I’ve worked with a lot of singers, all immensely more talented than me. Through working with others I’ve learned that a lot of the process is about knowing your limitations and offering what you can. Some are pitch singers and they are perfect with that but they don’t always have the emotion to back it up. Some are personality singers and they might be a little carefree with the pitch, but they have something equally important to bring to the table. I definitely fall into the second category.

“The song shows a lot of potential. I’m just getting hooked in this form. Maybe it needs to be fleshed out a bit more.” Pop Occulture

“Thanks for sending in your music! From my perspective, you need to work on your music some more altogether. Just too raw and needs more done to it when dealing with the production as a whole. Best of luck in the future!” Nasty Tracks

I’m well into my forties now. I’ve seen too many people go all in with their recording efforts only to have nobody listen to their music. If anyone is going to listen to my music, it won’t be because it has a great beat. It will only be because they want to hear what I have to say.

I feel kind of embarrassed that my Google knowledge panel calls me a singer-songwriter instead of just a writer. It makes me feel like doing vocal warm ups or something. But do I really want to do all of that just because of Google’s mistake? Um… not likely. I can’t even get myself to study Malayalam consistently and that would be a lot better use of my time right about now.

“Nice songwriter folk but a bit too lofi in the recording for us.” Modern Music Maker

Ok, enough with the tangential philosophizing, let’s get back to the shit recording.

“hey thanks for sharing “Of Love and Fear” with me, correct me if I’m wrong but it sounds like an iphone demo. the style you’re playing could give way to being similar to Jack Johnson or Jason Mraz but I think you could up your recording game, would be interested in hearing more.” Its Not Records

For the record, I don’t have an IPhone. It’s actually a more ghetto process than that. I recorded a live video in the closet, I mean my room, on the bunk bed, which may look a bit like a cell, and then a friend downloaded the music from YouTube and I ran that download through GarageBand just to get a working file for BandCamp… So… not an IPhone.

“Good acoustic track, but we pass. Thanks.” Indie Obsessive

And yes, that means it’s a little bit too Indie. But I accept that. It’s not music for the masses.

“Recording quality was pretty low and the song just didn’t flow well.” Digital Tour Bus

And I got my own flow, and I’m not really a guitar player, but it helps me to work out my ideas. And, and wait… I’m pretty sure I have some more excuses and disclaimers… Nah, I’m all done.

“The sound here is effective is creating a sense of emotion and melancholy, though the track’s lyrics didn’t quite catch my ear enough.” Various Small Flames

I am grateful for all of the honest feedback, because I enjoy living in reality.  There is nothing like rejection to inspire clarity in our thoughts and actions.  I write for the love of words and thoughts, – putting them together in ways that make my brain tingle – and how they can reflect worlds beyond words and thought.  If I can inspire a quiver in the brains of others, an occasional laugh or a tear, then it is an added benefit to an already satisfying venture.

 

 

If after all of that, you are dying to hear the track that I sent out for review, you can listen to it here:

 

 

Ok, it’s time to get back to my day job – cooking delicious food and yelling at unsatisfied customers!

 

 

9 Comments

    1. Thanks for making it all the way to the end. I was sure how many people would actually get there. It was fun, at least for me, to compile all of the rejections and look at them together and think about what it really does or doesn’t mean to me.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I love the way you wrote this post. Very effective and creative. I’m struck by how strong and clear the recording is. Amazing since it was done in the room you describe.

      I remember all of the rejections when I wrote professional articles during my time as an assistant professor at the University of Washington. I learned to not be surprised by them, so just turned around and sent them to someone else. Eventually someone published them. Rejection didn’t bother me in that setting.

      It was a different situation when I published my books about my years with Amma. Those were so much closer to my heart. I was much more sensitive to peoples’ reactions and let any negative comments get to me. That was even more a problem when I wrote some bhajans…. or even when I led bhajans. Even after all these years, I am much too sensitive in that arena.

      Thanks for sharing your process in this post.

      Liked by 1 person

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