Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison in 1789, remarked that “the earth should belong only to the living generation,” who should have the right to be free of the trammels of preceeding ages. He asserted that the lifespan of a generation was 19 years, and that regimes, laws, and debts should be renewed and should expire at such intervals. An interesting thought. Edmund Burke stated that society is a contract between those departed, those alive, and those yet unborn. Madison pointed out that previous generations have created roads and bridges for the use of those who came afterward. Who does the world actually belong to?
I would assert now that the span of a generation (whether familial or cultural) has lengthened – both because the average lifespan has risen since the 1780’s, and because people now start families and have children much later, many 30 years or more after their parents had them. The average familial generation in the united states is just over 25 years, and it’s over 27 in the UK. I would argue that a working generation, in all its glory, from the time its participants are educated to the time most have hit their creative peak, is from their mid-late 20’s to the age of around 55 or 60. Between 30 and 40 years. Of course, many of our world leaders, CEO’s, and those making important decisions are older than that. But the most forward- mobile and potentially effectual generation at any given moment is the younger, up and coming one - those in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s who are working with enthusiasm, drive, passion, and zeal.
It seems as though many of my generation have a tendency to think of the world as ‘just the way it is’ without much hope for massive restructure or change. This is ironic because we have seen such massive structural change in our lifetimes alone. I was born into a world with no internet, no cell phones, no personal computers, and I grew up as these massive networks slowly took place and began to restructure our communication and our day to day lives. In the not so distant past, and throughout history, the borderlines of cities, countries, and ideas have constantly been malleable, but now when you ask people they seem to think that everything is set in stone, that politics are beyond our control, and that there’s not much we can do except occasionally vote and hope for the best. But politics are driven by people, and I believe that the best changes ever made to our world have been those made by the strength and courage of a few who were willing to stand up and work for what they believed in, even if it meant risking their lives and going against the status quo. Many of us have become too complacent, or overwhelmed, or burdened with things that make no difference, and it’s time for our generation to start taking the reins. We are certainly not children anymore.
The earth certainly does belong to the 'living generation', but only to those who choose to live in it.
Apologies to those of you whole clicked on this link expecting a juicy euphemism regarding my personal life. This is about as literal as it gets.
After a couple of weeks of wrestling with the closet space I had originally set up to record in, we realized it just wasn’t working in the way we’d originally hoped. Because I’m recording everything live (guitar and vocals at the same time), we were having some phasing issues in the small space with the mics so close to each other, and we had other issues with the acoustics that we couldn’t fix without going through and padding/soundproofing the whole space, which isn’t part of the plan right now. Again, the goal for this record is simple, honest, and intimate.
So it's out of the closet, and into the bedroom. The new space gives the recording a different feel, but it’s honest and I like it.
Recording like this has brought me back to basics in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Over the last few days, I’ve performed the song ‘The Garden’ easily 40 times. Yesterday, I finally captured the right take. It still gets hot and sweaty in the room with the AC off and the windows sealed to avoid noise, but it feels like a workout for the body and the heart, and I like the challenge. In addition to the technical, every take has to be done with the same level of intention and feeling, or it doesn’t work.
The last time I did something like this was in high school, with my first band End of August.
We made a record in the living room of my parents’ house. There was no multi-tracking - we just played the songs over and over until all of us got a good take together. My dad was sitting there manually adjusting everything on an analog mixer, taking the guitar up a little during the solo and back down again - a carefully orchestrated dance. I remember one of the songs, “Make it Right" took us more than 25 takes in a row before we finally got a good version.
For the last few years, I've recorded with Dan (Diaz) in his studio, where we’d lay down the guitar track first, cutting and pasting pieces that worked and replacing pieces that didn’t. Then we’d move on to the vocals, doing the same thing. It’s an intricate but forgiving way to work (although the feeling still has to be right), and it’s also how most artists do things these days, but I didn’t want to take that luxury this time.
This time, every pop, click, and flub is part of the process, and part of the record. I took an afternoon off from recording earlier this week and spent hours practicing one specific guitar passage with a metronome because I’d kept messing it up on tape and knew we couldn’t make any edits later. I’ve had to be careful not to wear my voice out. It’s all or nothing this way. And because of that, it’s more nerve-wracking, but also more thrilling when things sound and feel right.
“When you do it this way,” Dan says. “It’s all about the performance.”
It has to be. There’s nothing else.
When you travel alone as I do often, sometimes the inanimate objects you carry with you become like little members of your touring family. You get used to seeing them every day (they're actually the only consistent things I see some days) and you develop a rapport (in my effort to find a clever literary reference to place here about being friends with objects, I instead found THIS
I've been traveling with the same guitar case since '07, and had gotten used to its quirks, but when the handle fell off for the third time and I found myself in a busy terminal of LAX trying to cradle it in front of me while juggling my other luggage on my back (it looked less like I was carrying a guitar and more like I was attempting to smuggle an oompa loompa), I realized I might need to make a change. Fortunately, my good friend Cam over at Taylor guitars hooked me up with a beautiful new one and I can't wait to break it in, starting tonight at the W Hotel in Hollywood, where I'll be working out some new songs for the album.
In loving memory of Case # 1, which served me (and my guitar) well.
The almost-identical, yet still new and wonderful case #2, making it's debut tonight at the W Hotel in Hollywood.
For the first time, I'll be attempting to record an album in my own space, on my own time. For the past few records, I've walked into producer Dan Diaz's studio with a collection of songs and we'd collaborate, and he'd of course add his magic on drums, bass, and electric guitar, but for this record I want to do something stripped down and intimate, and Dan has been incredibly encouraging ever since I told him I was thinking about giving it a shot on my own - although he's already helping out with the process and I know I'll probably be calling on him a lot once we're underway.
The first step, of course, is putting together a space to record, and fortunately, I've got a closet that fits the requirements perfectly. The space is small (about 7x8 ft) and a lot of it is already taken up by normal closet stuff (clothes, old yearbooks, and a collection of rocks and minerals that I've been meaning to add to since I was about 12). With the help of a few friends (including Dan), I was able to put together a very simple, functional studio to start laying down demos of the new songs.
I've got a track record (pun intended) of putting out an album every year, which means in order to stay true to that, this album will be out by the end of 2012. I'm going to be documenting the process here, and also sending demos and exclusive material to my good friends at thegardenofgold.com
. I'm so glad you're here to share in the adventure. Let's make a record!
If you're looking for the entry on why I changed my name, you can find it HERE
Last night around 10 pm, I decided to forgo the subway and walk from Brooklyn to the Upper East side of Manhattan where I'm staying, thinking it would only be a few miles. Turns out the walk I ended up doing was about 12 miles long, and took three hours. It felt like twenty minutes. I guess I don't need to worry so much about training for that half-marathon.
This is what came from the walk:
We are all Broken.
Dance with me.
Dance with me through fire
Dance with me through stone
cracks and corners
the flowers of our imagination
our ligaments are twisted
our lips are foggy, frozen
this is a night
We are all broken.
Dance with me.
Dance with me through grey exhaust
cattle calls and horn blast
dance the steam rising
dungeons of deliverance
cold, damp stairways of redemption
We are all broken.
Dance with me.
Dance with me on Wall Street
Dance the clock tower
the cloak of knowing
the veil of forgetfulness
Our metal is twisted
Our glass is shattered
We are all broken.
Dance with me.
Dance with me under street lamps and star signs
through tear storms
and threaded needles
an old thin banister leads to your room
dance into firelight and warm perfume
the bites and the scratches
the machine of our hopes
squeeze out the softer moments
we are brilliant,
rock, wood, fire and flame
Dance with me into headlights
into the oncoming traffic of desire
dance with me
I cannot show you everything
I cannot make you whole
you, even your darkest,
are my firelight
your breathing moment is my sweet breath
stronger than ecstacy
this deep, heavy happiness
dance with me
into the heart of everything
where time is laughing
and no one is broken.
In case the big header didn't quite give it away, I have returned to the name Martin Storrow.
When you want a tree to grow taller, you don't water the top of the tree. You go straight to the roots. Depth before mass. Depth before reach.
The same goes for us, and for the things we create. Water the surface, the branches, and the leaves may shimmer, but it evaporates. Water the roots, and you give sustaining life.
I changed my name to Jakob Martin because I wanted to try on a mask; I wanted to see how it felt to paint my branches. At the time, it was the right decision for me. Becoming 'Jakob' was new and interesting. When people start to call you something different, sometimes you start to feel different. It was a great escape.
But when you change something on the surface without changing anything at your core, it's just that - a mask. And the longer you wear it, the harder it becomes to take off. I kept wondering when being Jakob would stop feeling weird and become normal, and as much as I tried to embrace it, it never really did. I don't need that mask anymore.
My parents named me Martin Axel Storrow. Martin after my grandfather Martin Axel, who I never got to meet. He helped to liberate one of the Nazi camps at the end of World War II. A couple of years before I was born, he was crossing the street with my grandmother and they were hit by a driver who wasn't paying attention. My grandfather pushed my grandma out of the way and she survived. He did not. My last name, Storrow, was changed at Ellis Island from something much longer and more difficult to pronounce. The 'Storrow' comes from my father, the best man I know. I am proud of where I come from.
This is not a rebranding, but a rebirth and a return.
When it comes to music, I have always written honestly and from the heart. I kid around that when I break up with a girlfriend, the joke is really on me, because she might be angry for a couple of months, but I'll end up singing about her for the next five years. It's funny, but there's truth to it. And when you apply that to something like the loss of someone you love, or a hope or fear, the impact runs deep. For most of us, our defining moments are little secrets that we can lock up inside, but an artist's job is to break open the safe and expose those feelings to the world, to give us perspective, to show us to ourselves. And if we're going to have the audacity to say what's in our hearts with that level of depth and honesty, we should also have the courage to do so openly.
Goodbye to the painted branches. Hello, Spring.