Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Excerpt from "I Asked the Lord" by John Newton

....I hoped that in some favored hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part....

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

"These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Blues

What were you thankful for this year? Were you thankful for all the things you should have been thankful for?

For my own part, I can say that this was just an off year... I found it hard to be thankful. I am thankful, of course, but I definitely didn't show it like I usually do, and I definitely didn't feel thankful like I normally do.

I have been given so many things - stuff that I don't deserve. A good family, a roof over my head, food to eat, access to education, clean drinking water, and lots and lots of "stuff" - material possessions. Very little of this do I actually need. Most of these things are just bells and whistles - to make life easier, more convenient, more entertaining, or whatever.

At the end of the day, we should be thankful for everything, but most thankful for the essentials - the things we can't live without. This year, I have found myself asking for help to want to want to be thankful - mostly for the essentials:

Oh, when I come to die
Oh, when I come to die
Oh, when I come to die
Give me Jesus

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Late Nights Can Kill You

I've been spending so much time at the computer again that my forearms are starting to bother me again. I feel like I already mentioned that in a recent post, some time in the last month. As you can tell by the time of this post, it's because I'm getting in to the groove late at night, after my family has gone to bed. I've found that my most productive "computer work" comes after hours, if you will. It sucks, but it's the only time that I have, really.

But, alas, the time has come to go to bed. Goodnight, computer. I will see you tomorrow evening. Until then, I know that others will caress your pretty back-lit keys, but please don't enjoy it, okay? If you can muster up any sort of passionate desire within your uni-body frame, may it only be for the soft pressing of my very fingertips over all of your buttons.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Official Blog Title Change!

Inspired, once again, by a songwriter that I really respect, Josh Ritter, I decided to change the name of this blog. To be a Josh Ritter copy-cat? No way. Just because I didn't want the name to be something so obvious. The previous title of this blog was "What It's Like" and what could be more obvious than the fact that blogs are about "what it's like to be..." [fill in the blank with whatever it is that you do and why you think people care to hear about what you do every day]...

So there you have it. Boom. New blog name: "Fine Lines and Hidden Spaces".

And you may ask yourself, "Self, where did Jay come up with that name?" Well, without giving it all away, I'm working on a new song with this lyric in it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Crying Babies

Today, for the first time in a long time, I have a serious problem with the sound of a crying baby.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Moving to Brooklyn

Manhattan Bridge. Photo by: Daniel Hautamaki (http://www.danielhautamaki.com)

So, over the past few days, I've been talking to a buddy of mine who lives in Brooklyn with his wife. He is really convincing. He thinks I should move to NYC pronto. We're seriously considering the option. It's a great community with a thriving arts scene, awesome food, at least one, really good church, and a boatload of opportunity - in all sorts of areas: work, culture, spiritual, community. We will see... Only time will tell.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Selling a Piece of Family History

Today I asked my mom if she'd be okay with us selling her father's 1960's Wurlitzer organ, that has been sitting unused and neglected in my parents' basement. Selling the organ is not new news, but the reality of selling it finally hit her when I told her this morning that we might have a prospective buyer.

I understand the sentimental ties to the organ. I feel them, too, even though I was a wee young lad when my grandfather died. I have no memory of him prior to his first stroke. But I also understand that, as life runs its course, all things come to an end; and all things pass on, move on, continue on - life continues as life dies.

And so, to me, the organ is better in the hands of another, as we say goodbye to something that was useful to us at one time, long ago, and brought our family such joy, but has now laid dormant for over a decade. We recognize that to give it to someone else means that the organ actually increases in value - not decreases - as others are allowed to make memories with it and it becomes a part of others' lives.

Saying goodbye to an organ doesn't mean saying goodbye to the memories created by it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Running on a Full Tank of Ambition

Yes, Megan laughed when I said to her this evening, "Baby, I'm running on a full tank of ambition," but do you want to know something? Her laugh didn't bother me too much. Actually, it didn't bother me at all. I feel recharged, renewed, refreshed, and ready to go for it - again...

Over the past couple of days, I have been inspired by reading Josh Ritter's blog on called Making a Life in Music. Here's a link to it: http://www.bookofjubilations.com/2010/10/making-life-in-music-vol-1-were-all.html

It's for songwriters who, pretty much, want to do what he does. I guess he does music "full-time" and "for a living", but I've never asked. But he certainly seems popular enough for that to be the case.

Anyway, so Josh's blog has been inspiring, and I've already to put in to practice some of the things that he has recommended to up-and-coming songwriters.

Over the last few years, I have tried a number of record-keeping techniques to help me stay focused and help me continue to move forward. But somewhere along the line, my methods lost their effectiveness, I got out of rhythm, or my circumstances changed and I was no longer able to use whatever system I had developed...

One thing that Josh recommends is buying a nice notebook and writing down your goals - ten years out, five years out, two years out, one year out, six months out, next week, and tomorrow. The first chance I got I ran down to the local bookstore and bought a Moleskine. (I've never owned one before, but I felt cooler just writing in it the first time.)

One more big thing he mentions about your goals: never show them to anybody else. I'm not sure why that is, exactly, but that was his recommendation, and I guess I can see why - a little. To me, it's probably because they are your own private thoughts and other people might not see the world how you do. They might try to mess with your mind, your aspirations, your emotions, or whatever. And so I'm going to try to take his advice.

So far, I've been most impressed simply by Josh's method for going about "making a life in music". Another one of his basic premises is that a career in music blooms out of a music community. You don't do music in a bubble. You pursue it and succeed with others - musicians, friends, other songwriters...

Onward and upward...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New The City Song Initial Mix Complete

Last night, Gary Stanton and I (The City) completed the initial mix of our song "Broken Well". Read the full blogpost here: http://whatisthecity.blogspot.com/2010/11/newest-song-broken-well-initial-mix.html

And yes, you would be correct in thinking that this is the same "Broken Well" from my new record, Fundamental. By the way, you can purchase a download of the record or the limited edition/hand-painted version right now from my webstore: http://jaymathes.com/store


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Working on a New Video

I don't know much about Final Cut Express, but I'm learning. Slowly. Right now, I'm in the middle of doing some "real" editing for the first time, on a new song video that I hope to post this Thursday. With everything going down for Fundamental, I haven't had a chance to post a video in a while. But this one should be good. It's a solid song, for starters, and the video, I hope, will keep it interesting... The song, by the way, is called "Let Us Live".

Sunday, November 7, 2010

15K and Still Alive

Yesterday, my wife and I ran 15 kilometers in the Hot Chocolate 15K Run in Chicago. I am still alive! My knee is killing me, though. Actually, other than my knee, I feel really good. And as far as the knee goes, I have another doctor's appointment this Thursday. I'll let you know how it goes. My gut is that there....

Okay, I've actually just spent the last 15 minutes looking at knee images on Wikipedia. I also just had my wife check out this funky ligament-deal that is doing this weird popping thing, when I straighten and bend my leg. Yikes! Some sort of ligament over the lateral meniscus, or maybe something a bit lower - the lateral collateral ligament, which connects the fibula and the femur. (I only know some of this lingo because I've been staring at it for 25 minutes now...)

Until the middle of this post, I had no idea how complicated the anatomy of the knee was. This is unbelievably complicated stuff! How on earth the human body has been assembled so well is quite unreal, if you ask me. Even the most complicated automotive engine doesn't hold a candle to the intricacies of the human body. It just works. It makes you wonder who built it...

Hopefully this new doc will be able to tell me something I don't already know about my problem knee and help me fix it. No cortisone shots, please.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Website Updates and the Double-Edged Sword

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been doing a bunch of updates to the website (http://jaymathes.com), and finally, I can say that I won't be doing any major updates for a long, long time...

The main updates:
  • Design Fundamental ad on homepage.
  • Music page updates to include songs from Fundamental
  • Extras page has all new stuff
  • Music album pages now have album info, credits
  • Albums now have downloadable artwork - covers and booklets
  • Listen to every song from my three most recent records in new music players
Now, some of this stuff wasn't necessary, but it has been on my to do list for a while. And, I think as we continue to move towards a more online digital media-based society (especially when it comes to music), this extra content really starts to add some significant value to the site.

But there is one, major drawback:

Because I am *capable* of doing all of this updating myself, I do. It takes a lot of time - time away from writing and practicing music. But at least I don't have to pay someone to do it. It's a skill - perhaps necessary. Well, at least at this stage of the game, it's definitely necessary - because I'm doing it. Hence, I am typing this at 12:26 AM...

Time for bed! And let me know what you think of the updates!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tendinitis Coming Back

So, over the past 72 hours, I've put in a lot of time on my music - more time than I've put in in the last three weeks combined. The result? Well, most of them are yet to be determined. Hopefully I'll get a string of shows lined up from it. But what I can say is that my upper forearms are starting to sing to me again... Meaning: they tingle with pain some times and at other times they send two- or three-note staccato soprano notes straight to my brain via my my hyper-active nervous system.

The point: I need to be conscious of my time on the computer, get off of the laptop and back on to a real keyboard and touchpad, and take breaks frequently.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Beautiful Letdown

I'm still trying to figure out how any letdown can be beautiful, but I think it's a good exercise to get in to the habit of. I've also just recently discovered that the way we think about shame is all messed up - just like our understanding of being let down. Here's what I've learned:

"No one whose hope is in [God] will ever be put to shame"
- Psalm 25, line 3

What ever could that mean? It means that, at the very least, there was no shame at the cross where Jesus died. People mess that up all the time. I mess it up. The culture of the time messed it up. According to the Romans at the time, it was the absolute, most shameful way to go. But somehow, there was no shame there. How does that relate to my first point?

I can't explain it, but I *think* that letdowns *are* always beautiful. (Switchfoot was right.) When I don't get my way, that event should cause me to think about something that is more meaningful than whatever it was that I wanted - and didn't get. I think about a story I once heard about a man born blind...

So what sparked this conversation in my mind? A good friend of mine, Chris, gave me a lead on an apartment for rent (a condo, really) at an unbelievable price - with all of the amenities that I have been dying to have - namely, a dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer, a balcony, and two bedrooms.

I made the first call. I spoke with the owner. It sounded promising. She made sure that I was aware of the rate: $800/mo. + gas, electric, and water. Awesome deal. The owner gave me the name of the person managing the rental, and I gave her a call. She didn't call me back.

Day two. I call the property manager. She answers. Bomb #1: someone else has already submitted an application. Then, she proceeds to inform me that there was some sort of mistake about the rental price. She claimed that the *owner* was confused about how much the property was renting for. Yeah, right. Bomb #2: the property manager was asking for $975/mo. + utilities.

And so there you have it. My beautiful letdown.

Now if I can only come to see how it is beautiful...