It's TRASH-YOUR-OWN-SONG time again!!

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Actually, it's not. Life's too short. And I'm too tired to launch into a full bodied rant so: people, don't trash your own songs in the liner notes. Don't heap shit on them, or comment on their lack of sap, or their worthiness to be left unloved and unlistened. The cold cruel world outside will do all that and more for you, just ask Beethoven. By all means suggest where you'd like input, but hey, let the listener listen without misdirection, okay? Your songs don't deserve you to turn on them, they're your children, goodness sake!

Agreed. Even a bad song is a song written, and not everyone wrote a song today. In fact, a lot of people don't even try. You succeeded... look at you, you productive beast! (The word *YOU* used here as a the generic as in you people, and not specific)

I'd just like to say thanks to @Tim Fatchen for continuing to emphasize this point. I used to be bad about trashing my own songs, then I took Tim's advice and realized I was being unusually cruel to myself. That's so counter productive. So thanks, Tim. EDIT: Yes, I do still do some self trashing, but it's far less than in years past.

?I'm of two minds here. When I was a kid I studied classical trumpet and I found myself in a lot of recital and competitive performance situations. Anytime I performed for others, they would come up to me and tell me how great I did, and I would immediately go into the litany of mistakes. Now, to be clear... I was correct. Of course I made mistakes, and I'm actually pretty grateful that I was able to analyze my own playing so well. I couldn't have become better otherwise. However, my mom pulled me aside one time and really read me the riot act. She said that contradicting people like that is like telling them they are stupid and that they don't know a good performance when they hear it. So I just started saying thank you. Sometimes I still forget after a performance. Sometimes other people have even called me on it. But that's rare. Problem is it still happen in my mind. So when I say thank you, it's kind of like a lie by omission. But it's socially expected. There are people that belittle themselves because they're fishing for compliments. There are people who belittle themselves because they really think they're no good. As a performer and a songwriter I know that I'm good. That's not a problem. And I don't need anyone else to tell me that I'm good. I used to, but I don't anymore. But I'm analytical about myself and I want to get better, so yes... I am always going to look for the flaws and the weak points. I don't think it's always a bad thing, but I think in some cases it can cripple a person's ability.

I just think it's a shame when somebody mistakes my self-deprecating humour for a genuine lack of confidence. I guess it's a British thing.

There is a big difference between critiquing yourself and trashing yourself. A critique says, this is what I did well, and this is what I can improve. Trashing is saying, this song sucks, and that's just belittling yourself. I also think that even if you had a bad performance in your own estimation, saying thank you to someone who genuinely enjoyed your performance isn't a lie of omission. It's just being grateful that someone enjoyed what you did. They can enjoy it even if you didn't.

Absolutely @Tim Fatchen . This is where you go to post things that are by nature not perfect. This is a place to feel free and be vulnerable, but trashing your own song first can sometimes feel better before letting others trash it (which rarely happens, and they generally only want to help make the song better in my experience). There are rules in place to keep this site a playground of positive, helpful feedback, even when it's critical. So trash your songs if it feels right, but there is something awesome to be found in your song even if you truly believe there is not. Now, I tend to trash myself more then trash my songs, its not their fault if I'm having an off day. That's a whole other topic.


Very interesting topic @Tim Fatchen! I have several thoughts (surprise!)

First, I generally agree with you that one should not trash one's own songs! Here at 50/90 & FAWM almost everyone is very supportive so trashing your songs will sometimes result in commenters focusing their comments on refuting said trashing rather than telling you what they liked about the song.

I think some folks do this to lower expectations when they are not feeling confident. I have seen this often in songwriting groups where folks kinda feel like they have to warn you in advance in case they flub the performance. I've seen folks spend more time apologizing for their song than they do performing it!

But I can also see the other side of this. When I am presenting something to a group with high expectations and I know what is wrong with it I may still briefly preface with that info (even though it would prolly be better to fix whatever is wrong before presenting it!)

And, of course, there are some who are fishing for attention (I mean, even more than all of us are doing here!) And sometimes that attention desire is satisfied by proclaiming one's faults and then basking in the resulting "it's not bad"s.

Hmmm, I think I was going to conclude by making a point of some kind but I seem to have lost track of it.

Interesting thread developing here Music 2

@katpiercemusic My background's a lot like yours. And I know I'm good (to the point I have to stamp on "so why ain't I rich/famous" internals--I know the answer there too). And I know to keep looking for the flaws and weak points--I only have to be in the same room as my violin to be reminded. But...the real point I posted was very like your mom's point. Don't trash your own, in this case beforehand. A posted song is a performance and the liner notes are a pre-performance chat. Let the music influence the listener, not the pre-chat! The exception is where you have a technical issue or question, in which case by all means pose a question or make a pre-emptive statement!

@katpiercemusic - I like what you wrote about how some are fishing for compliments and some (probably most) genuinely don't think they are good. The first is kind of BS, the second is a shame.
But when I give comments to those who trash themselves, usually I take the bait and write something like "Don't be hard on yourself - I like this one." Maybe one of these days I'll write, "You're right - this song is freaking awful!" and see what happens.
No, I won't. But it's interesting to think about.
@Tim Fatchen - Thanks for starting this thread. You sure livened things up around here!


Well, yes, one should look for the weak points, as well as the strong. But this isn't about that, this isn't to tell you not to think about what you could better-- it's about not putting a label on your stuff for all the world to see that says "inferior product! look at how I FU this song!" And that's great advice. Internal checklists, yes. Bouncing it off a person whose opinion you value, one to one, yes. Looking for room for improvement, YES. But not along with your offering, not in the sales pitch, not as general commentary. When you put your checklist out THERE, you're just robbing others of the chance to experience any of it. Most people will not have the training & ability to hear the flaws you hear, but telling them your take on those flaws dampens the strong points. Look at your work critically, just make sure to discuss that in the proper place, is all.

And I know because-- I do this as a cook Smile

I've sort of been harsh to my music since the beginning. I used "crapcapella" as a warning to keep the "wrong" people away from my songs. (Wrong people being those uninterested in lo-fi acapella recorded on the device on-hand.) It's taken me numerous positive interaction with others who seem generally impressed by my ability to improvise to shift me from describing myself as a "crapcapella musician" to a "lo-fi musician specializing in improvised acapella."

But that's more about badmouthing myself. I don't think I normally badmouth my songs.

If I don't like something enough to post it, I don't post it. My process totally supports this. I've had liner notes from skirmishes like: "I had to improvise this three times before I got something I liked well enough to post."

[@Chip Winthrow] if I really think someone is fishing, I unfortunately usually don't listen to the song. When I do, I have been known to give helpful suggestions. About the most unflattering things I say in my notes are "No going to develop further" which is usually because I'm just not interested enough in it, "needs some work" which means I am, but I haven't put the time in that I would were it not 50/90. It seems like people are just upset with the label. I mean it's 50/90. None of us get to 50 without writing a few duds, but I guess it's just irritating for some people to read the dud label. It doesn't bother me. I don't use it either. I just don't worry about what other people think of their songs. I guess I'm more bothered by the almost taboo way we treat constructive criticism here. I almost never give it and I get it even less. That's frustrating because I value feedback, but this feels like hijacking a perfectly good threat, so I'll cram it now *^_^*

Trashing oneself can be part of the act, though, can't it? Like Rodney Dangerfield in comedy. I'm d**n proud of even the worst songs I've written. Smile

After thinking about it a bit more, I'd say that self-deprecation can have several causes and functions some of them constructive, some not. It can be a genuine expression of the person's insecurity, in which case the compassionate response would be to affirm that person, seems to me, and I suspect that from a psychological point of view that's actually something that helps in the creation of a community. It can be done as a way to signal that the writer of the song, which is perhaps seen as being offered as a gift to the listener, isn't quite sure that the gift is good enough. Again, I suspect that that can be functional in the creation and maintenance of relationships. It can be done as a kind of bragging, and that bragging can be engaging or disengaging to the listener, depending on a whole lot of other factors (humans are pretty good at sensing false humility after all). You are an astonishingly gifted artist in multiple dimensions, Tim, and your art certainly wouldn't be well served by the kind of trashing you describe, but if it can have other functions, some of which are constructive rather than destructive, well, seems to me that it might sometimes be a good thing. I bet that there is a lot in the psychological literature about this. It'd be interesting to see what empirical studies say.

Tom, I really appreciate both of your comments. I actually commented on this thread twice and removed those comments because I felt that the discussion had veered away from the compassion you mention above. I am a semi-amateur musician, which means that the demos I post necessarily fall short of the way I imagine "the song." I understand that my self-deprecatory shtick can get old after a while. I've been involved in FAWM/5090 since 2012, plenty of time to get my shit together and learn how to play and record--so I would excuse the handful of people who listen to my stuff for saying, "Sheesh, I don't need to hear about how you haven't picked up a guitar since February. If you don't want to be a semi-amateur musician, why don't you practice?" Point taken. But I am who I am--and that guy wants to be An Artist four months of the year, working with the tools at hand.

That said, I'm tremendously proud of just about every "song" I've ever written. I really feel that I have my own sensibilities and I like what I do. If I point out problems in the recording/performance, it's because I want people to know what I actually had in mind, so maybe they can imagine it, too. I once posted a song that was basically iPad autoplay marimba and drums behind my vocal. I did my usual sadsack routine and noted that I envisioned the song as an upbeat synthpop tune. What happened? Well, the immensely talented @tinam recorded some synthpop backing tracks for me. That is the magic of fawm/5090 for me.

And, Tom, I enjoyed your Rodney Dangerfield routine in the liner notes of Every Cliche Possible, though I heeded your advice and didn't listen to the song. That said, I have no doubt that you stacked up those cliches with brio

@katpiercemusic said "I guess I'm more bothered by the almost taboo way we treat constructive criticism here. I almost never give it and I get it even less. That's frustrating because I value feedback"

Katie, I don't think constructive criticism here is taboo. But I agree a lot of people don't welcome it because our work here is of a rough draft nature. Personally I prefer to wait for critiquing until I have finished my work. Otherwise it feels more like I am unintentionally collaborating! Smile

This site, and FAWM, are also not about production yet we often spend a lot of time discussing production in the forums and even commenting on production values when it seems appropriate.

I'd say, if you feel strongly about this, you should start a "constructive criticism" thread and encourage folks who are interested in giving and getting it to sign up! Maybe call it the "Constructive Criticism" challenge! Not sure how many folks are still active here but if you ever decide to do FAWM I bet you'd get a lot of interest in such a challenge!

@fresh spotless youth, then I have failed, the Dangerfield thing was supposed to sucker people in for a listen. Smile

@TomS it worked on me but you claimed cowcore... I’m much less apologetic since I’ve realized my target audience is myself and my family. I don’t need to compare to the best here to bring a smile. That takes the pressure off. P.S. Tom you needed more cowbell IMHO. P.S.S. Tim I wrote a song on this last year. Still a great topic.

Yeah, I had all sorts of cowbell in there and got all artsy and took most of it out. I will do penance by challenging even Don't Fear the Reaper for cowbellness next! Smile

@TomS that would make my heart happy! Go beyond my cowbell tune. Forget Don’t Fear the’s weak in cowbell.

I, too, enjoy constructive criticism and, yes, feel it might not be appreciated here in FAWM / 50/90. Not that everyone would mind - but it's difficult getting a feel for which members would appreciate the constructive criticism angle. But eh... Doesn't bother me too much. For me, it's mostly about getting off my arse and making a song, y'know? Regardless of the feedback (even though I appreciate the comments that do come in). Smile

Ooo geez, I haven't looked in for a while cos I'm practisign and sorting out lead sheets for a 4-hr gig as one of Greg Coombsy's "Those Village Minstrels" on Sunday (well, the gig is paying. PAYING!! Be still my beating heart)... Constructive criticism: yes, often it isn't welcome. I give some anyway where I think it might help. I try not to overdo cowbell (with which I've been in love ever since the Beatles brought out "I call your name"). And I did a truly cringe-making parody some FAWMs back called "This is a terrible song", a joke at many levels and an excellent song too but boy, did it generate some private flak as well as public.

Part of my motivation to try to support people--not so much these last 18 months but hey, thousands of comments in previous years-- is that once I was terrified too. Not technically, I had the chops. But I didn't even realise I could WRTIE until I was fifty (50). It was the kindness and support in my very first FAWM in 2007, and some gentle nudging on that to put out another CD, and also move into TAXI and enter the professional world that set me on my current career where I can afford to buy my own coffee (instant) with the income.. I would really hate to step on someone who felt as exposed and uncertain as I did when I started, because I could see that stopping people dead in their tracks. And giving up.

But I was an appalling trasher of my own stuff, which ranged form not-bad-at-all to quite good, even at the start--it was a personal security or lack-thereof thing. And it applied in all other sorts of directions. And the psychology is well known. Even now I still ahve to force myself to stand outside my own stuff and judge. The difference is, though, that I live by what I say and everything, everything, gets onto 5090/FAWM as it gets written.

The first time I was brave enough to throw what I thought was a train wreck (instrumental) onto FAWM, people weren't just kind, but also made suggestions, and mildly chided me for calling it a trainwreck. After hours and hours and hours of practise at it, that eventually became one of my two go-to gig openers for "serious" music--ie non-Flying Tadpole. ("Panic Panic" on youtube, if you want to find it) But those hours-and-hours are not available during FAWM/5090, nor is the time to develop beautifully polished professional production numbers, that's not what it's about. Yes some of us have the gear and abiltiy to polish to some extent as we go. Some don't. Some have no gear at all but if you can even just HUM your tune, hey, put it up.

Okay, there's more I can say and should but I'm out of time for now. Chew away!

@johnstaples - A "constructive criticism" thread might work better here than in FAWM. Smaller community here, so we're more tight-knit, and maybe that would help with the quality and tone of the critiques.
I'm sort of surprised that no one has started such a thread since John's mention of it. I wouldn't take part, though. Years ago, I was a music critic for a couple of newspapers and a website. Even then, if I didn't like something, usually I just chose to not review it. And my goals for my own music are limited and specific these days (on the infrequent occasions that I think about musical goals).
Yesterday, I did something I rarely do - I scrapped two songs. One was finished and ready to record, and the other was a full set of lyrics. Then I started struggling with re-writing them, and it just wasn't worth the time and effort.
I've only done that maybe a half-dozen times in all the years I've been 5090ing and FAWMing. So that's my own version of trashing my own songs.

Great stuff, very interesting Crazy