Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I was going to give my thoughts on the new fleet foxes album here, but the computer i listen to cd's on died when i went to listen to it...

maybe its just too much awesomeness to handle?

while the computer is back up, i havent had time to listen to the album yet, so ive decided to write about a concert C and I went to last week.

last wednesday evening one of my favorite bands was scheduled to be in town at the great american music hall. ive been amazed at the writing ability of their lead singer, for quite a while now and when i heard they were in town, i knew we had to go.

i have to say up front that the lyrics in their music are what really draw me into the band. their best work expresses heart-brokenness over the state of modern society and it is conveyed beautifully.

While the lyrics and songs in and of themselves were all perfectly performed and displayed, there was something that felt lacking that night. each of the songs were incredible as separate pieces, but as parts of a whole, there was a lack of continuity. between each song the band talked amongst themselves, deciding apparently, which song and/or instrument they should play next. this proved to be a little distracting and disconcerting. while there is a strong theme that runs through their work, breaking up between the songs and not interacting with the audience did not make it stronger.

this lack of a "show" or "performance" made something very clear to me. i have thought for a long time that the lyrics and beauty of a song lie in themselves. in other words, a song is beautiful because it is well written.  i was taught this particular evening however,  that in a live setting, there is an essential part of the musicians job that cannot be ignored if the songs are to carry their full portion of beauty. the whole performance must be executed well if each of the individual songs are to be given their full import. songs lacked power because they were not part of a larger whole "performance". like reading a sentence out of context from the rest of the paragraph and missing the larger point, songs performed live cannot be taken by themselves apart from a good show.

the performance is the context, and each song is a sentence in the larger paragraph of meaning that runs through an artists work.

this has been a hard lesson to learn and work through. ive often left my songs hanging out of context with poor performance. i dont think the band failed at all that evening, in fact, they are amazing musicians with great gifts and talents and each song was perfectly executed. i think they missed a chance to really speak with their audience about heartbreak though, and that was a a sad loss. this band is incredible and is bursting with meaning and lyrical depth. i hope i get another chance to see them perform live.

i wonder how this "context" issue can be applied to myself or you?

do you think performance is as important as writing or intent?


Saturday, May 7, 2011

the highwire

south of san francisco there is a light house at pigeon point. built in the late 1800's, it has been blocked off due to erosion, and the light now shines only on special occasions.  the cliffs it sits above are jagged and rough, but the fields that lie behind it are covered in blankets of yellow flowers this time of year. the most overwhelming part of the scene though, is the ocean itself. vast and relentless, it sends wave after wave towards land. it rises and falls with frustration around the rocks it will eventually crumble and rumbles with the driven wind across its expanse.

what does this place have to do with highwires?

light houses walk a highwire. we stand them up tall, delicate, and shining against a huge unknown entity hoping to find some safety in the warning they provide. at any point a lighthouse could be swept away, fall, and crumble. if the very rocks they stand on are not guaranteed to always be there how is the light house?

this frailty is where their beauty, and i believe, much of the beauty we see elsewhere in the world comes from. what we describe as "beautiful" is that razors edge of a moment when something, a sound, an image, or a light house, is perched on the edge of destruction.

the film “Man On Wire” is the perfect example of this, and the reason i make the high-wire comparison. the highwire walker that strung a line between the twin towers and then performed thousands of feet in the air with no protection is the human personification of the light house. he put himself, delicate and human, in the face of a huge power beyond his control and that, we say is beautiful and poignant.

i feel this same delicate wire walking in performances by musicians as well.  a live concert is a highwire for any performer. putting oneself out on the line with no fall back or safety net beneath the stage is the same as walking a wire between two high rise buildings.  the same sense of delicate balance and un-nerving sense of imminent destruction are there. performing a song can feel like setting up a light house next to the ocean, letting it throw its light, however feeble, into the waters of the unknown.

i look for this highwire walk in the music i listen to, buy, and share. i like words and rhymes that hang on the verge, but turn out brilliant and cutting (See Townes Van Zandt). i like discovering new musicians that take me places ive never been (see Willy Tea Taylor, Joe Pug, The Low Anthem). and i especially like hearing my friends perform their highwire walks (see The Modern Times, Aaron Hale, Tim Palmer, Jordan Martin etc...)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

where you fit in

thank you so much to everyone who downloaded FINCHES

it was a great honor to see how many of you are listening.

i gave the album away free for a reason though.

in the world of digital recording, online releases, and re-shifting record companies, people that write music and share it in this fashion bear the weight of promoting and distributing their music.

im learning that this takes quite a bit of effort.

i am so glad to have friends that listen, encourage, edit, and share my music. these people have more of an impact on why i write than i think they know. they are a prime example of how music like mine gets spread around as well. 

musicians like myself depend on friends like you. without you, no one hears what we write, record and share. you, our friends, are the critical link in the chain of our music being heard.

this, then, is a plea.
a plea for you to share our music.
a plea for you to let your friends know about the music we are making.

to make this easy for you, we release things free.
it takes money to make the music that gets into your stereo and headphones, but for me that money is not an investment i make in hopes of a monetary return. i make that investment hoping that you will download, listen and share the music i make. that's the only return that is important. eveything else flows from that i (maybe naively) believe.

there are lots of ways you can help myself and others like me.
spread the word by:

- link to the website on your blog/facebook/twitter from here.
- email your friends the link as well.
-"like" FINCHES on facebook
-"like" FINCHES on my website
- spread the word about this blog

we write because we like to engage.

please engage with our music by inviting others into the conversation.

if you've read this far, you are totally one of the dedicated people mentioned above.
let me know (in a message/email/tweet/facebook wall post) how you've spread the word about my music or someone else's and i'll give you some more free music...


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New release FINCHES now available

thats right. 

you can download the album for free at:

while you're there be sure to "like" the album if you enjoy the music and let your facebook friends know about it too.

id love if you passed the album along to a friend. if you do, send me a message and ill send you a preview song for my next project (its about ships)...

thank you so much for your support and listening ear. im very proud of this project and glad you get to hear it.

Monday, April 25, 2011


its ready. ive got the songs and album artwork loaded onto jacobfurr.bandcamp.com.

im pretty excited about giving this project to you.

its final title is "FINCHES".
its a 3 song exploration of the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird"
and i'm glad i did it.

why? because it made me realize i can set my mind intentionally to a creative task and come out with something that im extremely proud of. ive mentioned before how my songwriting in the past has felt haphazard and disjointed. it was a challenge to sit down and write songs around a specific idea this time, instead of just collecting songs that came up randomly through noodling on the guitar. and i liked it. i enjoyed keeping my mind on target, brainstorming, editing (more than i have ever done before), and working towards a clear goal. it was thrilling to see the final version.

this process brought up a lot of questions as well. mainly questions like:

"why do i even do this?"

i know why i write (sort of). i love words. i love the way they twist and turn on the tongue and in the mind. i love their ability, that only belongs to them, to create worlds and visions and feelings. and i want to be a part of that. i write because i want to participate in this swirl.

i also write because i, like most people i think, want to be heard. we all want someone to hear us. to take us seriously and listen to what we say, think or believe. our basic human operating motive, (besides survival) is communication with other humans. so i write because i want to connect to you. i need that inter-human relationship. i try to do this through story and song. i used to think i wrote just for myself and that others hearing my songs was no big deal to me. but i can't honestly say that anymore. i honestly want you to hear me. not because i think im the next big deal, or that you'll get so much from hearing my songs, but because i like interacting with you through this music.

and i want to hear you. if im singing into a void, so be it i guess. but i dont think i am. i dont think any of us are. whether we are writing poems, solving problems, building houses, or just making it through our day. we do not exist in a vacuum.

in trying to make sure that you heard about what i was doing, i started to wonder about how songwriters "promote" their music. and it made me a little uneasy. its very gimmicky a lot of times. even writing a blog to give me an "online presence" smacks a little of salesmanship. 

which isnt necessarily a bad thing.  if i think my project is good and im proud of it, i want you and as many other people as possible, to hear it. to download it. to spread it around and give it to your friends. ive been convinced recently of the fact that craftsmanship can come in many forms and that a craftsman should be as good as he or she possibly can be. if im working as hard as i can at my craft (whatever it is) i should take pride in it. i should be willing and want you to be a part of it as well.

that is why i write, record, and give away. because i want to be a craftsman of words who is connected with his friends and listeners.

so tomorrow, will you come and connect with me for 15 minutes of music?


Sunday, April 3, 2011


So I'm working my way slowly towards the completion of the, as yet un-named, To Kill A Mockingbird album! I have one track mastered, another is about halfway ready, and there is one more that I want to dive into here with this blog post.

I was reminded this past week about the influence/impact that the Accidental has on artwork.

let me start with a story.

i had an entire song recorded. i went to export the song. i then saved the export over the original tracks,(essentially deleting them) and erased any chance i had of reworking the song without re-recording the whole thing all over again.

this was an accident.

and frustrating.

but thats okay, because i think accidents/imperfections/problems give life to whatever work is being created. there is a level of excellence in every good work of art. be it a painting, a musical score, a sculpture, the building of a house, or the creation of anything. but could it be that the mistakes and failures along the way give more life to something created than if it had just come out right the first time?

mistakes make for good stories.
accidents make for new ways of thinking about things.
imperfections add detail to what could have been a very bland and perfect thing.

i have songs whose final recorded versions of  lyrics are the result of a breath not taken deep enough so that some words get omitted. words that i thought were essential. but must have just been weighing things down or else they would have not fallen off.

so losing the tracks i had worked for days on resulted in me taking a deeper look a what i had recorded and coming to the conclusion that i hadn't given it my all the first time around. i was trying to cover up a mediocre performance with lots of layers and effects that i thought would finally make the song click. the mistakes made there did not add to the song. they did nothing but make me realize how quickly i was trying to rush something good out.

none of this is to say that you should not strive for excellence or perfection in whatever you are creating or doing. but it is to say that the ability to look mistakes in the face, learn from them, include them, and celebrate their influence is a great opportunity for growth.

so im going to keep striving for the best i can play, sing, and record, but now with an appreciation for good mistakes.

ive begun a whole new set of tracks for this song. ive slowed it down, stripped it of extra needless instrumentation, set it in a new key, and simplified the melody. all of this work being the result of a simple accident. in the end, im feeling much better about the song.

i think you're going to like it too

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thank you

I'd like to dedicate this post to all of my friends who came out to support me at my first show in California. 

It was an amazing and strange experience picking up and playing alot of my music for the 1st time in a while. I realized how much I love some of the songs I've written and how great it is to get inside some characters and thoughts through song as well. I didn't realize until I was preparing my set list that I have now written something like 25 songs.  That just blows my mind. 

I've never considered myself a "songwriter". I've always just been a guy who loves music and likes good words. Im not sure if this inability to consider myself a writer/artist came from fear or humility, but it has been a struggle as I've taken a step back to examine why I like to write songs. 

So this is where my amazing friends really play a role in my life. They (and my family) are the ones who have encouraged me by listening, downloading, and showing up when I say that im playing somewhere. When they tell me Im a songwriter, I believe it. 

So thank you for listening. Thank you for encouraging.


i am still working out the kinks in the "To Kill a Mockingbird"  homage EP. but the 3 songs have been written, 1.5 of them are recorded, and there's some amazing album artwork in progress(thanks to my girl Christina)

I'm going to release it at: jacobfurr.bandcamp.com

where you will be able to download it for free.

keep an eye out...

also, id like to invite you to become a follower of my blog here and to sign up for my mailing list.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Gettting down to it

I've begun recording.

The songs for the "Mockingbird" album just, yes, came all at once...out of the blue.

So i've started recording them here in our closet. I'm calling it the "Cloffio" (Closet, Office, Studio)

And it seems I've kinda forgotten how hard it is to record into one microphone with a not-so-great program on a kinda old computer. this however is the story of my life, along with lots of other people who try to be honest with themselves. we are surrounded with things, people, ideas, and passions that are often broken. but that seems to be where real art, in life and in creativity, take place. in this place where to get it right you have to repeat yourself over and over over; editing out more and more of what you thought was good stuff to pare down your life, your art, and your expression to get down to the bare, clean minimum. and this is a hard process. this process kinda sucks really.

To get to that perfect EQ on a vocal or guitar, or that perfect rhyming line, or that place of balance in life is a journey that must be undertaken with a determination to see it through to the end. ive found myself just wanting to do anything but record and write. i don't want to hear that song again for the 1200th time today. i don't think i have the ability to really get it sounding right. i don't think its going to ever sound a good as it did in my head that first pure time i played it.

but what is the consequence if i give up? i will have nothing to show for my time spent holed up in a closet, or out living my life, or writing at my desk. and that seems to me to be a terrible place to live. i will live a life of "what-ifs?" and 'Why didnt I?"

and I dont think I could really bear that. So I keep going. It's not that we keep going on into some perfect future we can see though. I have no idea exactly what these songs will sound like when I reach that moment when it clicks. I have no idea when my life will suddenly feel "right". I just keep going because I don't want to live a life void of created things. I want to make and fill the space around me. so i keep going until it just fits. until I can say "there is nothing left".

Thursday, February 10, 2011

to keep myself accountable (or, "jacob tries to have more disciplined song-writing")

Im thinking about working on two new albums.

one of covers of Townes Van Zandt songs, just to do it and get them under my fingers and in my mind.

the other, a little more challenging writing-wise.

I'd like to write and record an album dedicated and inspired by To Kill A Mockingbird.
This book and its subsequent movie have always had a very important place in my life and I'd like to explore them. I just have one small problem:

I have a hard time writing specifically about a subject when it is the cneter of my focus.

if and when i write a song, it seems that it comes from out of nothing. i sit to play and suddenly a song has nudged into my mind, under my fingers and onto paper. while this is a very organic process, its not very dependable. or deep. while often, actually almost always, i find myself working through the song later on, i find subtle personal meanings in each that i had not seen originally, it often seems these connections are not intentional. they just happen to come from my the deep recesses of my mind and find their way sneakily to the page.

dont get me wrong. i love this process. i love the unpredictability. i love the organic "just feelin it" groove. i love surprising myself. but sometimes i want more out of my songs. i want more out of myself.

i want to be able to sit and ruminate on a subject, topic, emotion, thought, etc...

and from that meditation i want to write. not expecting anything great or singable, just to write.

i would like to take the subconcious process that just seems to happen when im playing for no reason, and turn it towards being disciplined about my creative process. this is not to create more efficiently. in fact, it might work just the opposite. i might spend days pondering and come up with nothing but jibberish. and i dont want it to be about creating more. i would just like to connect my words to well, deeply thought out and deeply questioned ideas. to get that deepness, i feel like i need some dedicated rumination.

does this make sense?

it shouldnt be about a creative process that forces me to think just so i can make more music. it should be about actually exploring and digging into the passing thoughts that blow through my mind.

so id like to start this with an album about To Kill a Mockingbird. id like to meditate on the novel, the story, the characters, and ultimately maybe the meaning. because it has always had some ephemeral impact on my heart and mind, id like to explore what that looks like when i sit down to give those impressions detail.

ive written a song from atticus' persepctive with the "it just happened" style of writing. now id like to write a few more songs that come from a more thorough exploration.

so im committing here in public to write this album.

a huge step for me. i dont like pressure, even when i put it on myself. but maybe we all need some more connected thoughts.