Ben Franklin Blog

The blog of the band Ben Franklin from NY and NJ

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Walking to work is a really invigorating thing, and mostly you don’t realize it except on those mornings when you take the route through the park. It starts out cold, but you warm up quickly, and soon you’re hot inside the winter coat. On your way out the door you put on Remain In Light, and by the time you get to the park, “The Great Curve” is cranking and you feel excellent, you feel momentarily free of the weight of the world, your conscience, your fears, and all there is to think about is: what to make next?

At least, that’s what happens to me once in a while, although the details are never quite the same. I wouldn’t exactly call it satori, but I am feeling like I’m at a turning point here. What to make next?

I’ve been struggling with this a bit lately. I haven’t been sitting down to write often enough (to be clear: I’m masochistic enough to think I ought to be doing it every day, and recovered-Catholic enough to then feel guilty about not meeting such an unrealistic expectation for a working boy), but I have been writing and with the exception of “Team Work,” which is definitely no longer new at this point, I haven’t written much that I think is “going somewhere.” And I think that’s mostly because I haven’t a notion of where I’m going at the moment, but I think I’m finding it, so bear with the drivel here.

A lot of the material I personally wrote for Optimist, before taking it to Eddie and Sarah, anyway, was an attempt at letting go of a lot of my pretensions about rock music, and making songs that “just worked,” for lack of a better way of describing it. I haven’t really often tried to put this in words, but I wanted to be able to write good songs that were simple, and thus, that’s what I was stabbing at. Since then, I’ve been working just a few tunes, many of them the same few tunes over and over again. Some of them are more than a year old! What I mean is, I keep sitting down to work on the same five or six unfinished songs, banging my head against them and demanding that I ought to be able to come up with something good, but I’m at a loss.

So, instead of stepping away from them for a day or a week, it’s really time to put those ideas in a “maybe some other time” folder, mentally, and just push ahead. Well, there’s one I’m going to hold onto, because it’s fairly recent and not so simple. But the others aren’t pushing my own mental envelope musically, and I think I’m just not as interested in that kind of music as I was before. I find myself thinking about some of my favorite far-out beats, funks, thinking about what it would sound like if Autolux and Talking Heads had a baby, thinking about really upping the ante technically with the band as performers, but still doing things that are more stripped down and raw. Sometimes, I think that rocks more. Anyway, we’ve got more than enough rock in our set, and being a hopeless slave to the genre, I’m sure I won’t be cranking out navel-gazing world music jams anytime soon. But it’s time for new sounds, for me personally.



Written by Ben Franklin

December 28, 2009 at 11:23 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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