I remember reading a piece on songwriting advice that said there are periods of give and take creatively – at times we are exporting information and in others importing. We have the ability to consciously make the choice for when that should be but for the most part life dictates those periods for us.
There have been several seminal changes in my life since I last actively used Patrick Goes Pop, before I went into a personal period of importing. After two years as a model of stability my nightclub band had a tough year of transition that drained a fair amount of my emotional energy. Our bandleader was promoted to another location in July. His moving on was in the long term best interests of everyone involved (my relationship with him had become especially cantankerous) but he nonetheless left a gaping hole that fell mostly on me to fill. We lost another member of our band much more unexpectedly shortly after. Needless to say it was a lean few months as we tried to right our ship.
I wrote my last piece for this site on the precipice of re-enrolling in school for the first time in five years. That brought about some changes that I could’ve anticipated – having much less time to watch and write for fun – and others that I didn’t see coming.
Part of my fall 2019 semester curriculum entailed spending Friday mornings at a local Catholic school teaching Kindergarten and 2nd graders. We often led exercises designed to coax them into participating in a musically creative activity. We wanted them to extend, to take a risk, jump off the proverbial cliff with the faith that we would be there to catch them. Unsurprisingly what these children shared with us was not prodigious. But I respected the immensely for taking the leap, particularly those who did so before getting to know us.
One morning I made the connection between those kids and anyone who produces work in the fine arts. They are extending themselves by self-expressing just like my 2nd graders were. I started thinking critically about music journalism. Producing it felt trivial and petty.
These internal questions didn’t stop me from reading the Rolling Stone, Billboard, and Pitchforks of the world. It didn’t mean I suddenly liked every single song because the person making it was trying their best. There’s plenty of music that I still think is absolutely fucking awful (Drake). And I still love debating pop music things like which Album of The Year nominee was best this year (Father Of The Bride) or which edition of Genesis is superior (Phil Collins). But I have had a change of heart in the kind of output I want to produce.
I’m going to write to discover rather than write to review. Less time spent critiquing performances as good or bad and more time spent mining for what can be learned from them. From time to time I won’t be able to contain myself and will have to share some thoughts that read more like a review (the new Let It Be movie comes to mind) but for the most part I am retiring any aspirations to be Jann Werner. There are plenty of people who write those pieces and do so with a kind of conviction that I simply have moved on from. I can’t see myself getting worked up over what the #1 song is anymore.
What hasn’t been done? What hasn’t been written?
My podcast is a perfect marriage of the 1.0 incarnation of this website and what I plan to do with it going forward. I am still talking about pop music, but am doing it in a way that’s aimed to get people to think more critically. I couldn’t fill a podcast up by simply saying a song is good or bad. I want to be less of an authority and more of a curator.
Whether this is your first time on my site or read it before, I appreciate you stopping by! I believe my best work is always ahead of me.
Patrick Hyzy, April 2020