Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A special project

"Do I Need It?", also known as The Reducing Song, is nine years old already... and getting rather glitchy on YouTube. So when my daughter and her boyfriend gave me the Christmas gift of remaking it, I was excited. It needs serious updating -- as you can see below.



For my readers who have yet to run into my secret career as a songwriter, this tune came out of my Master Composter/Recycler Course in 2007. The day I went for my interview to join the program, I was very excited because I wanted to learn more about reducing my impact on the planet, and composting and recycling fit with my ideals as a Voluntary Simplicity practitioner. The interview went well, and on my way home, the refrain to this song popped into my head -- from the Source of all inspiration, I guess. 

I didn't know what to do with it, so I walked around for the first weeks of my course, singing and humming it to myself so I wouldn't forget it. It wasn't until the course instructors announced that everyone in the class had to come up with a final project about waste reduction that I knew what I had to do -- write some verses about reducing waste, of course. I wrote too many -- and I'm such a nervous solo performer, I couldn't imagine standing up and singing it in front of the group.

Thankfully, my sister suggested I make a video -- so I recorded the sound track in the peace and quiet of my kitchen using a cheap microphone and my laptop. My mom and I visited the local Salvation Army Thrift Store (that has since closed, unfortunately), we ran around taking a few more pictures, and it all came together quite nicely thanks to Jeanine's patience as video editor. The version above isn't the original -- I re-recorded and added more images before posting this version to YouTube.

It's been a lot of fun receiving feedback about my song from folks all over the world over the last nine years. Musicians detest it because, hey, I never thought about varying the melody to make a "bridge," and honestly, I can't stand the sound of my own voice, either. But school teachers, environmentalists, recycling enthusiasts, and students from Australia to Taiwan have shared my funny little video with their circles. It even ended up in the Taiwan English School Curriculum as part of a lesson on Senseless Consumption. It hasn't gone viral by any means, but seems to have a fairly steady viewership (most of the hits are from my Uncle Mark, I think, who is the King of Recycling in his small town). What really makes me happy is when it gets quoted on the Master Composter Recycler Facebook page, or by someone I know. That means it might be having an impact on peoples' consumption patterns. (My family really hate it because it's an earworm!)

I had a chance to visit this year's graduating class of Master Composter/Recyclers in April, and we watched it as a group. Its outdatedness and glitchiness made me immediately ask the group for their assistance in the remake, and a few of them were quite excited about participating. So on Saturday, a group of us gathered in our basement "makeshift sound studio." My daughter and her boyfriend set up recording equipment and took pictures. We made plenty of mistakes, had a lot of fun, practised our percussion, and eventually the basic sound track was laid down, ready for editing. Over the next weeks Landon and Christina will work on audio and video and hopefully the finished product will be ready around the time that I finish my final Laudato Si Sunday Reflection.

So watch this space for the World Premiere of The Reducing Song -- Do I Need It, take three, by the Marvelous MCRs and Honourary Guests. I promise, it will be the best one yet!

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