December 28, 2009 9:38 PM

I spent much of this morning shouting. Not at anyone, or anything, or sure, at something, a microphone. It was musical shouting, which you should know different from shouting to be seen, or shouting because you're angry; it's a bit more controlled, and really doesn't have to be very loud, as you're going more for the raw, pitchless timbre rather than volume. At the beginning I was thinking of early Johnny Burnette or Charlie Feathers, that sort of wild, loose rubberband rockabilly vocalizing. By the end of it, I had started to think of Howling Wolf. Then I started to think how ridiculous it was to think of Howling Wolf, and then my throat started to hurt. Anyway, I'm quite hoarse now, and I can't eat citrus without my throat stinging.

Yesterday I saw a few bands play. They all did pretty well, that is, I wasn't bored with what was happening, in fact I was a bit stunned by the first band at first and caught myself filled with skepticism. They were a sort of vaudevillian troupe, moving quite fluidly between puppetry, storytelling, and music. The puppetry and storytelling were very good, whimsically constructed, humorously playing with the fourth wall; I had no problem enjoying that aspect of the group. But for some reason I found myself hesitant to enjoy the music, although it was well-orchestrated and expertly performed. Frankly, I think the vaudeville aesthetic is a bit old-hat, and even when it's done well I find it hard to justify the efforts made to reconstruct the look and language of that bygone era. Not that I disapprove of anachronistic delights: quite the contrary, I love so much old music and a lot less of the new. Somehow though, this band just didn't take me where I wanted to go.

The second group was a female trio who sung in harmony over simple guitar and harp accompaniment. The melodies were rambling, and the vocals enticing; however the lyrical sentiments were thin, and the song dynamics a bit flatline and anonymous. Again I found myself asking, is this where I want to live, in a world of romanticized banalities, gently and dramatically paced? Not to be maliciously curt,, not really.

As it happens so often, these bands got me thinking about my own music. What kind of world do I conceive of? If you ask me, I think my world is full, with an encyclopedic, if frayed, scope. I try to make all the shapes, represent everything that I know as accurately and definitively as possible. Yet this process is not without a touch of anxiety, because what I'm seeking is impossible to create, and I recall my actual location and time and identity and hesitate. I know I'm not this or that, from whenever or wherever, so I almost count on myself falling short and exaggerating one thing or another. Failure is an inextricable part of my creative process.

I often wonder if my music is even listenable; my approach is practically documentary, and my immediate tendency would be tell people to listen to something other than my music. But I guess if we're going to take this metaphor all the way, it doesn't really matter.