Last night, I needed to clear some storage space on my phone. What I really need to do is move some of my photos onto my computer, but since that wasn’t an option at that moment, I tackled the voice recordings instead. When I get an idea for a melody that I think is worth keeping, or maybe a scrap of lyric that I don’t want to forget, I will grab my phone and make a quick recording. Sometimes I’m able to sit at the piano for a minute and improvise whatever it is that’s running around inside my head. I don’t always get time to go back to the tracks right away, so the collection accumulates, a bit like odds and ends in a shoebox.
I had 120 tracks to go through, so I only got to tackle about a third of them last night, but it was like an auditory tour of the past year. I was transported back to a day when I was working out instrumental tracks for a couple of songs in the studio. The phone helped me to hang onto ideas, so I could compare them and decide which I liked best. Others reminded me of wintry days driving to work, putting down bits of melody while freezing rain pelted the windshield in the background, the phone on the seat beside me. In one of the files, my kids were chatting about silly things in the back seat while I dictated a chord progression to go along with a few lyrics.
Not all of the files got deleted, even though I was on a mission to free up space. I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of the audio archives showing the evolution of a couple of my songs. There are times when I just know that something has potential. It keeps coming up, asking to be worked on. It keeps letting me know, “Not yet, I can be better!” One of those songs, With All That I Am, is a favourite among students at two of my schools. We sang that song at a school Mass two days ago, and I even as I was singing, I was grinning as I heard the students singing along. That moment summed up what it’s all about–the satisfaction of shaping a creative idea into a finished work that can be shared and enjoyed.
My digital shoebox might be full of scraps and surprises, but a little like my grandma’s button collection (which I loved), just about everything seems to belong, somehow. I need to get back to sorting the remaining files, but I have a feeling I’ll be keeping many of them, too.