Just Play

My friend Samuel organized Just Play, a thirty day-long group challenge of recording ourselves playing music every day. I’m very proud to have made it the whole month and only missing a handful of days. You can check out Samuel’s website for daily collections of the results.

Each day, I recorded a cover of a song; I didn’t write any of these, but I tried to bring some creativity to them. I regret not adding the titles of each of these songs but I’ve embedded a playlist at the end of the post with all the songs I’ve covered.

Most of the songs are on guitar, and most of those are on acoustic. There are a few piano songs, but my piano repertoire is so limited at this point, and not growing (too excited about guitar). There’s also a ukulele song from Steven Universe. (Ukulele got me into guitar, but I’ve recently picked it back up – it’s just so much fun!) I’m learning clarinet but I’m only a week in and am not ready to record myself. Music is back, it’s good again, and I’m so happy.

I’m really glad I did Just Play. It pushed me. It pushed all of us. I was pushed to dust off songs that I had learned but had forgotten, pushed to learn new songs I’d been putting off, pushed to bring organization to my guitar practice. I created a Trello board for all the songs I’m learning or have learned on guitar. Just Play accelerated my progress – and reinvigorated my enthusiasm – in learning guitar. Thank you, Samuel.

One thing you’ll notice if you look at the song list is that over half of the songs were from The Weakerthans, or its frontman John K Samson. Samson is my favourite artist; his music inspired me to learn the guitar in the first place, and my first public performance featured covers of two of his songs. His lyrics are so evocative and weave such intimate stories.

The final three entries make up the trilogy of songs told from the perspective of a cat named Virtute, released over the course of thirteen years. The story it tells is of the cat’s frustration and anger with its owner, who struggles with depression. Tired of living with someone so depressed, Virtute runs away from her owner. She reflects on how her owner’s absence makes her feel and eventually, the owner gets treatment and feels better, and Virtute comes home. It’s a touching story – I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about it – and it means a lot to me, so I saved it all for the end.

Here’s the playlist with all the songs I covered. The songs are ordered chronologically, as they are above, so you can match my cover to the original if you want.

Tomorrow, I turn thirty, and I can’t think of a better way to wrap up my twenties than to take a snapshot of where I am right now, musically. I’m still learning new songs, but I know there’s more out there. Writing. I dunno. It seems huge and intimidating, totally new, but I’m taking small steps. We’ll see!

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