In the liner notes for Streetlight Manifesto‘s “99 Songs of the Revolution Vol. 1,” a cover album, front man Tomas Kalnoky writes that he is never satisfied with any of the work he does and he always wants to tweak it as soon as he is finished.
The album includes a “cover” of a song Kalnoky had already recorded with side project Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution, “They Provide the Paint for the Picture-perfect Masterpiece that you will Paint on the Inside of your Eyelids.” (that’s the real title)
This isn’t the only example of this in Kalnoky’s work either. He re-recorded an entire album of songs he’d written with a previous band because he wanted to improve it. And one of those songs, “Dear Sergio,” he also performed with BOTAR. He worked on three different versions of that song. That is a quest to perfection.
As a self-styled Renaissance Man, perfection is something I strive for, as well. Not necessarily that I think there is a way to “win” life by being perfect, but striving toward being the perfectest person I can be with the perfectest product I can make.
I usually fail, sometimes miserably, at being my best in any sense of the word. Even perfecting any given talent is a kind of perfection that often eludes me. So instead of being good at everything, I end up just doing everything.
In my job as a copy editor and reporter, I’ve often had to publish something I knew I hadn’t paid close enough attention to but was on deadline. It works against my natural instincts in some ways, but I’ve learned how.
I’m working on a CD of reading my own poetry and have been wrestilng with the idea for a few months called “Tales from the Lake House.” A lot of the poems I want to put on it are already written, but I was having problems when sorting through my body of work and deciding what I did want and what I didn’t. Many of the poems I wrote in high school started with good ideas, but I dind’t write up to the standards I have for myself 6 years later. So I kept setting them aside to take the idea out of and write, essentially, a new poem for each of those old emotions.
After a while of struggling with these, and after reading that in the liner note, I realized that I had to stop dwelling on those. Don’t get me wrong, I love all three versions of “Dear Sergio,” but I need to produce something worth consuming before I go revisiting the work of my childhood.