File this under "things I wish I knew way before I was in my 50s." This is, apparently, the schedule for releasing a song.
1. Get inspired, write a song. Love the song. Hate the song. Re-write the song. Forget all about the song. Find the song months later. Re-write the song a few more times. Decide that there is "something there."
2. Start recording the song. Spend days on drum programming. Have a few computer crashes, just 'cause...why not? Track guitars, bass, use midi to approximate what a keyboard or piano player might do.
3. Record lead vocals. Record lead vocals. Record lead vocals. Finally get some vocals you like. Decide you hate the lyric. Re-write the lyric. Repeat the process. Then, double-track the lead vocals and add layers of harmonies.
4. Edit the parts. Move them around. Imagine you are Mutt Lange. It helps you justify the time spent editing background vocals so they sound almost acceptable.
5. Realize that the guitars are fighting with the drums. Wonder why the hell you didn't realize this back WHEN THERE WERE ONLY GUITARS AND DRUMS ON THE TRACK. Try to move the guitars around. Fail. Re-record guitars.
6. Start mixing the song. Keep mixing the song. Hear the song so many times that it consumes your waking and sleeping life. Love the song. Hate the song. Get "close" on several mixes, but just not quite there.
7. Realize that you suck at mixing.
8. Abandon the song. Walk away. Do other things. Focus on your work. Write other songs. Paint your house.
9. Forget all about the song, for the most part.
10. Let months pass.
11. Achieve detachment.
12. Re-visit song.
13. Realize it isn't that bad. It's not going to change the world or anything, but it's not complete crap.
14. Finish the mix.
15. Let go and release the song.
I'm told Bob Dylan never listens to his own material. I've heard Hugh Grant never sees his own movies. I used to wonder how on earth this was possible. I mean, I wrote music that I wish existed but didn't. Wasn't that the whole reason for doing it?
However, I've come to see the value of detachment in many ways. It doesn't mean not doing your best in the moment, at least ideally it does not. What it can mean is that you do the best you can and then let go of that moment. It means living in the present. Learn and go forward.
I just wish the process were a little faster.