I recently saw Todd Henry speak at an awesome hybrid music/speaking event Kristian Andersen put on at the Speak Easy. Todd said many wise and wonderful things but one statement stood out and has continued to resonate with me:
"Start with the obvious and it will lead you to the obscure."
This really hit home with me, often I discard or discount the obvious, regarding it unworthy of consideration or inclusion. But, as we have all experienced in our own lives, what seems obvious to one person is not to another. Maybe we can blame Robert Frost for this. We are all looking for the "road less traveled." The reality is that those less traveled roads often connect to the highways.
Waiting on the obscure often leads to delays or nothing getting done. We must place a higher value on forward momentum than novelty.
Our desire to elevate our thinking and work is noble but to accomplish this we must shift our thinking and begin to regard that which is obvious as a portal. It is simply the first step that will lead to much deeper, less obvious revelations. It will lead us to the obscure.
related: I recently worked on a weekend recording project that was influenced by Todd's "begin with obvious" thinking. I did the session with a group of guys I have worked with for years, even going back to high school. Often in the past we have gone out of our way to create music that was as unconventional, or weird, as possible. We didn't want to sound like anyone else, we wanted to be unique and obscure, original to the point of annoyance (according to my wife at least). For this session we framed everything around "commit". We committed ourselves quickly to the most obvious course of action- this song could use a vocal harmony, ok, let's do that! The result was 6 songs finished and mixed in one weekend. We all feel it is some of best music we have ever made (and my wife and kids like it which is nice). You can check it out here: The Pink Eagles on Sound Cloud or Musical Family Tree.