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February 2024
Vol. 23, No. 5
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Zen of Recording

Give It Away

by Sven-Erik SeaholmJanuary 2024

I love the hummingbirds in our yard. Each morning, I sit out on the porch with my cell phone and coffee feeling the rising sun on my face as the birds hum and flutter around me. I love that they are quite social and let me know they see me with a whirring fly-by or swooping “howdy-do,” eventually exhibiting trust by feeding with their backs to me.

Or at least I like to think so. I imagine they call me “The One Who Brings Sugar Water” and teach their chicks of my benevolent guardianship of their sticky sweet lifeline.

My wife, Cookie, and I watched a documentary about them and immediately bought a feeder for them. A nearby family of hummingbirds wasted no time in establishing that the feeder was theirs and theirs, alone.

For my part, I gave them all names.

Jane, the unadorned mom who endlessly patrols the airspace between her nest (more on that later) and the feeder.

Jack, a handsome devil with a cardinal red neck and glittering multicolored underbelly. He takes long trips, often shooing the other trespassers blocks away in a matter of seconds!

Billy and Bailey are the new offspring who are now able to fly and feed themselves. They have little golden crowns.

Recently, we decided we might need to make another feeder available, because the one we had was being so totally bogarted. We thought this might spread the love a little more amongst the other birds in the surrounding area, but no. Jane, Jack, Billy, and Bailey just have two feeders now.

The small family of birds appears to have placed their nest within the closest possible proximity to one of the feeders, on the slender bough of a small apricot tree. All through the spring, summer, and fall I’ve watched them hunker down under their scantily-leaved fortress. Now, with the final leaves surrendering to winter’s barren touch, the hummingbird family seems woefully under protected from the elements, even as they remain “Nectar Adjacent”…

Over the last several years, I moved a few more times than I had in the 20 years previous, often into smaller quarters than before. It’s cool. My needs and methods have evolved as well and I have happily dovetailed into the intimate vibe my creative workspace exudes, but I’m not gonna act like I wasn’t nervous about it. About not having a particular tool or the correct space within which I can ‘do my thing at the level which I strive toward. In a word, I was stressing.

Cookie helpfully reminds me that clutter inhibits flow. The more “stuff” you have, the more you have to worry about cleaning, organizing, navigating through, and moving around from one space to another, et cetera.

When it comes right down to it, the things that are absolute necessities in life are very few: Shelter, food, water, and love. While I adore my things, my toys, my tools, and certainly my collections of such stuff, the one thing I don’t want anything to collect, ever, is dust.

Those hummingbirds have always managed to meet their own needs before we ever showed up with the glucose, just as whatever it is that we need can be often be found right there in front of us.

So, give it away. Those things that you’ve been stepping over for decades. Those obsolete, extra, forgotten, or passé items that you’ve been shifting from place to place might be starting off point for another artistic friend or colleague. Or trade stuff: One man’s junk, right?

Share your secrets! The great producer Phil Ramone once said: “If recording is an art form, then by definition there are no secrets.”

Spread the love. After all, everything is always best when shared.

Sven-Erik Seaholm is a producer, singer and songwriter in San Diego, CA. www.svensounds.com

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