If only I could have gone back ten or twenty years and changed a few choices, made better use of time, avoided some people, learned a couple languages, maybe I’d be better off. I could go back a month in time and change something I’d done and I imagine that would set me up so much better for this week.
If we had time machines, or an “undo” function. All I can imagine is all the bad luck that could creep in. Playing back last week alone, redone– I’d fall in front of a BART train, I’d poke my eye with a guitar string, an old lady would back her car over my foot, or I’d eat the salmon mousse after it had gone bad. I’ll keep last week, along with the cold I caught.
I recorded “Never Again, My Love” the first time in a bedroom in 1990 with gear leftover from highschool and second-hand tape that was previously used to record black-box recorder data in flight simulators. That version is on my first record– lovely, crude...I don’t know, it’s absolutely at home on that album. I decided to record it again in 1998 with my band, with our live arrangement. That version has more sounds, more dynamics, it is longer, but is it better? Should it replace the original? No, I suppose we now get to have two versions of the same song, by the same artist. I had plenty of other songs to record, but wanted to have another attempt at this old one.
Of course I’m not the only one to re-do a song, over and over. My new album in progress has multiple versions of the same song. Sometimes a band will make a single, then re-make it for the album. One must strike while the iron is hot. Generally, the single has all the fire and spirit, and the album version sits nicely with the other songs on the album and everyone hopes the listener doesn’t notice the difference.
The emerging technology seems to make no difference. If anything, it offers more temptation to seek ultimate perfection, with editing, endless fixes. It’s harder than it sounds in theory. Once you’ve made your first creation, revisions can be merely Frankenstein’s Monster. All subsequent moves are tied to the first action.
As Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon river, it was considered the overt act that began the Great Roman Civil War. He knew he would not be able to “beat the demo” as this was the only version of “Crossing The Rubicon” his troops would cut. He turned to Suetonius and uttered the phrase, “ālea iacta est” – the die is cast.