A Day in the Life: Social Distancing with Greg Hoy

by - June 23, 2021

So have you heard of this ‘Great Reset’ happening? The pandemic was more like the great redux. How was yesterday? What day is today? Rinse, step, repeat. During lockdown, as the fantastic Money Mark sings, tomorrow will be like today. By May, my brain was bruised from the constant cacophony of media fear porn.

Repetition works when it’s intentional, compounding, measurable. So that’s where my focus went — how to take this lemon of a pandemic and make it a refreshing cocktail? Sanity came the usual way: make music.

TV watching is not a habit for me. Then again, neither was being trapped inside a house like Jodie Foster in Panic Room. So the focus was on docs, musicals and biographies. Garth Brooks’ bio is so self-serving that it’s admirable (I think he made it himself, natch). And Rock of Ages starring Tom Cruise? You should watch it. Same with Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster. That’s a solid night's double feature right there!

The one that hit me hard was on Dolly Parton. She still writes ‘one or a few songs every day.’ Every day! Ah ha! That was it! I’m going to lock myself in my mixing room and write songs every day! Hello, Dolly!

And that first night, I wrote two songs. The first one, “Move Along”, was a real genie coming out of the bottle. But after a week of diminishing songwriting returns, I realized what I needed was a deadline. Without some SELF-imposed restriction, mind you, I am just a swirl of ADHD energy that needs to be put inside a bomb casing.

My email to John Vanderslice, owner of Tiny Telephone Recording here in Northern California, was brief. If we were socially distanced, could we use the studio for a week? Recording studios are naturally socially distant places. The singer’s in a little room behind glass. The band is 20 to 30 feet apart in a giant room. The tape operator is isolated. Toss in one of those hand-held thermometers and you’ve got yourself a recording party.

The dates were agreed upon. The engineer, drummer and bassist were available. Excitement brewed. Are we gonna actually interact as musicians, playing together, in the same space... at the same time? Take my middle finger, Zoom!

Except… what were we going to play?

Knowing the elements, and having a deadline, made inspiration happen. With a pot of coffee in hand, I sat in my garage with a notebook, a guitar and my One Man Drum Company suitcase kick drum. And two days before the session, I emailed seven skeletal demos off to the band. A week later, the album Cacophony emerged from the flames of pandemia like a phoenix! Or maybe more like a lazy seagull.

Three weeks after we finished the mix, I became a dad for the first time. All creative projects need a deadline. And a little bit of lemon never hurts.

While practicing social distancing, watch my music video for "Move Along":

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