Thoughts about Songs

The Two Bit Recordings, Part 2
Just a thought from 1 June 2003 about .

Another song from that 1994 session. It's melancholy and dramatic and my voice cracks at the end. Perfect.

MP3: 4mb: Powazek-StormClouds.mp3

The Two Bit Recordings
Just a thought from 27 May 2003 about .

Back in college, my friends Jed and Roz and I would break into a UCSC classroom in the middle of the night and set up a makeshift recording studio. Jed had the keys to the sound room, and no one really used the classrooms at night, so we could make a racket undetected. At the end of 1994, we banded together and called it Two Bit Studios. As in, we didn't have two bits to rub together.

We recorded on my Tascam 4-Track. I'd bought it from a friend in high school. I kept the two hundred dollars I spent on it a secret from my parents. That small fortune was supposed to be saved for college. But some expenses are worth it, especially when you're a high school senior with songs burning in your heart.

Looking back, man, I wish I'd taken the recording more seriously. But I guess everything looks more important in hindsight.

I recently pulled out that old Tascam and the smattering of Two Bit tapes I have left from that era. To my horror, the ol' 4-track is dead. The power light just flashes pathetically, and all the output has an immense electrical hum.

But the tapes still work, and after jury rigging a tape deck to my old mac, I was able to lift some of the audio off one of those old tapes. First impression: Boy were we goofy. Second impression: Boy do I miss being goofy.

On a dark night in 1994 (November 19, actually. I know thanks to Jed's note-taking), I recoded this song with two friends in an abandoned classroom in Santa Cruz. The sound quality isn't all that hot, but the passion's there. And that's what Two Bit was all about it.

The song is called "Wake Up The Same." It's about several real people I met earlier that year. The first was a homeless man that got a job in my local laundromat. The second was a pregnant blackjack dealer I lost money to in Reno. And the third is someone I'm still trying to get to know.

Thanks for listening.

MP3: 5.8mb: Powazek-WakeUpTheSame.mp3

Sure you're out there
Just a thought from 3 May 2003 about .

Another song for those of you who liked the last one. I can't be sure of the date on this one - it's one of the few I didn't date when I scrawled it down - but I'm sure it's from the same era: early college, ten years ago, pissed off as hell. And it's one of my favorites. Thanks for listening.

MP3: 1.9mb: Powazek-SomewhereInBetween.mp3

I'd also like to stop and thank Scott Andrew for, perhaps unknowingly, giving me the confidence to post these songs here. I told an old friend recently that putting these songs online was like reconciling with a part of myself I'd divorced a long time ago. I needed the space back then, but maybe now we can be friends again.

Ten years time
Just a thought from 30 April 2003 about .

Ten years ago, if you'd asked me what I was, my answer would have been "songwriter." This was before the internet had given me the confidence to tell my stories. Before the web even existed. Back when the most pressing thing in my life was picking up the pieces of my heart that kept spilling across the floor.

I wrote songs. From my teenage years through college. I played in cafes and for friends. I put out demo tapes. I poured myself into six strings and a microphone. I could hold my fingertips over candles without feeling a thing, the calluses were so thick.

Then, in 1995, the web happened. And as I put more and more of my creativity into the computer, less and less of it went into my songs. Until finally, I put away the guitar for good.

There was never a defining moment. No special decision. No epiphany. I just kinda stopped.

And that was it. My guitar collected dust, the piles of tapes and hundreds of songs sat dormant. I guarded my music like a guilty secret.

But every once in a while, when I was alone in the house, I'd still pull out that guitar and play long enough to remember the joy of it. To let myself go just a little bit, open up, and sing.

The other day I was playing a song. It's called "A Face Among The Rest" and I wrote it for a girl. Truth is, every song I've ever written has been for a girl. But this girl was the first one I ever thought I'd spend the rest of my life with.

See, this is what songs are for. I can write "I thought we'd be together forever" but it just reads trite. This is what the age of irony has given us. But, man, sing it just right, with the right sound behind it, and it can still send chills.

And halfway through the song there's this line:

"I bet you'll find that in ten years time
I won't even cross through your mind."

And then it hit me. I wrote this song in almost ten years ago. Ten fucking years.

When I wrote the song, ten years seemed like an amazing amount of time. And now here it is. Ten years time. And while this would ordinarily send me on the cliched "What a drag it is getting old" trip, instead, this time, I felt liberated. As if the statute of limitations had suddenly run out, and I'd gotten off scott free.

So, if you can keep a secret, I'd like to give you something. It's me, ten years ago, singing this song. It's a thank you gift. For reading, for listening, for just being here with me, ten years later.

MP3: 3.1mb: Powazek-FaceAmongTheRest.mp3

This section is called Just a Thought. It's a blog where I post little pieces of what I'm thinking about at the moment. This page shows thoughts about Songs, including:

The Two Bit Recordings, Part 2
1 June 2003

The Two Bit Recordings
27 May 2003

Sure you're out there
3 May 2003

Ten years time
30 April 2003

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The Fine Print

Working the web since 1995, Derek Powazek is the creator of many award-winning websites, a couple of which still exist. Derek is the cofounder of JPG Magazine and the CCO of 8020 Publishing. Derek lives in San Francisco with his wife, two nutty Chihuahuas, a grumpy cat, and a house full of plants named Fred. More »

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