Resolution Rock


Want to torture yourself? Pause on Dec. 31st to consider the resolutions you scribbled down 364 days ago.

But not everyone is a resolution cynic. Check out the comments section below last year’s NYE post, and you’ll find a dozen entires from Josh Starmer, who pledged a year ago today to record an entire album, finishing one song per month.

Yup — he did it! You can read about his journey here.

Speaking of journeys: I emailed Josh to congratulate him, and he wrote back from frickin’ Cambodia on the day he was touring Angkor Wat.

Heck of a year, Josh!

I solicited words of wisdom. Josh’s reply:

For every one part challenging, it was 10 parts rewarding. Before I started, I’d never written a song before. I’d recorded little instrumental tunes, but nothing with words. I was pretty intimidated by lyrics early on, so I did what any awkward person would in such a circumstance, I sang about the weather. I then sent the song out to my closest friends and, over the months, their praise and complements kept me going, and their honest criticisms made me better. I’ll have an album out by mid-February.

Each month started out with one or two weeks of doubt and freak out. It didn’t matter how good an idea I had about what I wanted to record, it always seemed impossible. But, like everything, it was just a matter of starting, pressing record, and then putting the song together, piece by piece. The second two weeks of each month were always filled with immense pride as I watch the song materialize out of nothing. An idea in my head made real, and in many cases, better.

Along the way I developed a systematic method for singing in tune (which, sadly, is a different skill from playing any other instrument in tune), and I’m going to write about that as soon as I can. There’s a lot of bad advice out there on the internet, and I think what I came up with works really well.

Oh, and perhaps the most important thing – I can’t say enough about how cool it’s been to take an seemingly impossible task and just chip away at it each month in a disciplined way. I’ve found myself encouraging everyone I meet to do a similar thing – be it sewing a quilt, or writing short stories, etc…

How cool is that?

Anyone up for the “Starmer Challenge” in 2014? Or are you goals more modest? Or more grandiose? Please — confide your hopes and dreams for 2014 so that one year from today we can all join together to laugh at your failure toast your amazing accomplishments!

So what are my 2014 resolutions? Easy — same as 2013! :satansmoking:


Somewhere far, far away, all NYE resolutions come true.

16 comments to Resolution Rock

  • Roger

    Way to go Josh! That is really great indeed. My freinds sort of challenged me to do something similar. I have been posting little “doodle” drawings from time to time on my FB page, that I call “FriDoodles”. Well, I posted a little looped guitar music on Thanksgiving and now I have a few folks who suggested I do some kinda’ musical “doodle” on a regular basis, then I come and read Josh’s post…Hmmmm…maybe I AM suppose to make some music doodles in 2014. Time will tell…Have a great & safe New Year everyone!!! \m/

  • I pretty much failed on two out of three counts: I didn’t move to Bath (yay! I love Vancouver!), and I did less with my blog than the year before. What I did succeed at was bringing my all to every project with the result that I did 183 gigs last year, plus recording sessions, rehearsals, and party appearances (thus the scant attention to blogging).
    I’m going to have to think a little harder about resolutions for this year (I’ve still got a few hours before the New Years gig!), but I suspect that the “bring everything you’ve got to the gig” will be the central theme, and the rest will have to do with my marriage and parenting (you know, stuff more important than new pickups for an axe or some such nonsense).
    Happy New Year to all! Take a cab!

  • Rock on Josh!
    I accomplished many from last year. Played with more people, Learned unfamiliar stuff, wrote more. I built a guitar from scratch (mostly) and finished it just last night. And what I learned agrees with Josh, little chips removed reveals the sculpture. Set the goal and chip away at it.
    My challenge is to build and sell 6(six) custom guitars this year. Laugh at that.
    Happy New year to all.
    Thanx Joe

  • Bebah Palulah

    I am jealous of Josh! If he tells me he has small kids I’m going to jump off the sofa.

    I don’t think I made a resolution last year to play music in public, but I did manage to do that last Sunday. A friend told me to bring my guitar down to a local bar where they have “Pro Jam” night twice a week. They didn’t check credentials or ask for an audition. I’m no good at covers and they actually seemed more interested in original material so I dug into the wayback machine for a 3-chord (but not THOSE 3 chords) song we used to do when I was in college. I had not performed in public for 5 or 10 years so it was useful to pick a tune I could play in my sleep.

    In spite of not being perfectly in tune and just having a little Marshall combo to plug into (and begging for a cleaner tone), it went off pretty well. People there were very friendly and I may just do it again.

    Notes for next time:
    1) Bring a tuner and use it before getting on stage.

    2) Bring some cheat sheets for the band if wanting to do a more complicated original song.

    3) Bring more cash to tip the band.

    4) Dial-in the two-pickup volume arrangement to more easily switch between rhythm/lead or soft/loud settings. Having mostly played bass in group situations I never really figured this out. But if you’re going to plug into someone’s little combo with no channel switching or anything, it’s crucial.

  • Well done Josh! Personally I have been trying to finish and publish an eBook on effects pedals – The Stompbox Bible – for far, far, too long. I will do it in 2014, I will, I will (he resolved). Well maybe…

    The only good thing about it is that having taken literally years on this project and having dropped it and come back to it several times, each time I put in a burst of effort the book has got better (I think) and I my understanding of the principles of effects has massively increased.

    The tricky thing about most kinds of factual writing is that you often have to speak as an ‘expert’ and present your information as though it is definitive. At least having re-worked this book so often and found so many errors and weak parts I have less chance of getting egg all over my face WHEN I PUBLISH IT NEXT MONTH (perhaps).

  • Oinkus

    Oooh do we get free fanclub insider groupie copies ? Good luck , that’s a ton of work to make it happen. The so-called experts that publish generally are not the actual brainiacs.

  • Inspiring, Josh!

    For me, I still have a batch of conceptualized recording projects without actually finishing them. Some of them have been sitting around for a few years, which is annoying and embarrassing. There were issues with being dejobbed and rejobbing myself that got in the way this past year, but still…I could have been more productive.

    To hold myself to being more productive, I’ve signed up for It’s a site which encourages people to commit to writing, recording, and uploading a song a week. Deadline’s Sunday/Monday GMT, though, so I’m working on mine now. Anyone else doing something like this?

  • Thanks for all the kind and encouraging words!

  • […] UPDATE!  Joe Gore, former senior editor for Guitar Player magazine, who’s played and recorded with Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, Tracy Chapman and many more, dubbed my achievement “The Starmer Challenge” in this blog post. […]

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