When is it Finished?

I suffer from George Lucas Syndrome. Now before you all grab your medical encyclopaedias to look that up, actually, it does exist, but not in the way I mean it. Apparently the urban meaning is “A situation in which sci-fi movies often sacrifice good-quality acting and a coherent story in order to milk in the special effects.” But that’s not the way I’m using it.

George Lucas of course is the visionary behind Star Wars. He created this galaxy far far away, which so many of us love to play in. But George Lucas is also known for tinkering. In 1997, he realised that technology had finally caught up with his vision, and he enhanced the original Star Wars films with new special effects. Most fans would agree that actually they did little to enhance the films, and in some cases did quite the opposite. But it’s that sense – of needing to tinker, to enhance, to create the best version of something, which I am alluding to when I say I share the same need.

I’ve just released my second album (or at least it will be released on Spotify and other streaming platforms tomorrow). It’s an album of Christmas songs, telling the story of a baby born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. The songs have been written for some time. They were performed on separate occasions by different choirs. But getting the recordings ready for the world was another story! I’d mix, and remix, and remaster, and think I had it, only to listen again and discover some other little flaw.

I’d even got to the stage of uploading the entire album, lyrics and all, and then I happened to listen to one of the songs again, and I heard one note (ONE NOTE!!!) which was not quite pitched correctly. So I cancelled the release, and rectified that note, and uploaded it all over again.

And what I came to realise is that at some point, I need to stop tinkering, and let them go. Without endless resources and studio space to record everything in meticulous detail, I have to accept that maybe the recordings will never quite measure up to what I can hear in my head. Maybe most musical artists feel this. And rather like a painting, at some point you have to let your babies go.

So I have. I will probably not want to listen to the songs when they are finally live on Spotify, because I’ll probably hear more flaws that I can no longer rectify. But then, maybe that’s a good lesson for life – we get to a stage when we have to stop trying to be perfect and let go.

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