Just before that recent travel binge, while working on the songs, I had a couple of complementary epiphanies:
#1) I have been overthinking this. Some of my very favorite songs in the world have nonsense lyrics and only four chords. It hit me while I was listening to the four-chord ditty "Mashed Potatoes" by The Squish, lyrics: "It makes no sound, and I wouldn't doubt, if you looked around, and worked it all out. Well I wouldn't care, potatoes are mashed. Would it be fair, if I ever asked? It makes no sense, to turn away, it's my favorite game, that I like to play. Well just as I feared, potatoes are mashed. Would it be weird, if I ever asked?" I love that song. I've been enjoying that song for like ten years or more. You could write more cogent lyrics by picking words at random out of a newspaper. I could write and record two "Mashed Potatoes"-level songs per day -- sure, the vast majority of those wouldn't be as catchy as Mashed Potatoes, but if just 5% came out passable I'd have more than enough to have this project done in no time.
#2) This project is not being scrutinized by anybody but me, and I have no reputation to build or lose. I had big ideas about making a great first musical impression with fabulous original songs that would meet all of my own unrealistically high expectations, but none of that matters. This blog has a single-digit readership, as does the Commuter Challenge, and there is nobody out there thinking, "Ah, at last! That pimply bass player I saw in that crappy high school Van Halen/Scorpions/Kiss cover band in 1987 is finally producing some original music." This frees me up to stop stressing about this project and have more fun with it. My goal is to generate music, and it makes no sense for me to get bogged down by fears that something I make will be imperfect.
Neither #1 nor #2 are my way of allowing myself to cheapen this project, or an advance effort to excuse submit sub-par songs. If anything, this just gives me more leeway and freedom to produce music; I don't have to stress out about musical concepts or messages, and instead I can just try to write the type of music that I might actually enjoy listening to.
A couple of weekends ago I was able to record some of Andy's vocals for "Butterfly" with the generous and patient help of the super-amazing Wendi. The vocal tracks were a little free-form and might need to be digitally massaged into the song a bit, but he has an excellent voice and I'm excited about getting the opportunity to work with it. Having said that, incorporating his vocals might not happen by the December 31 deadline, we'll just see how it goes. I will post a version with his vocals at some point or another regardless.
More updates soon...