You know that study where the laboratory rat gets a bump of cocaine each time it presses the red button? And how the rat in short order “learns” to press the button over and over until his heart explodes like a chocolate covered cherry? Well, I’m the rat, and songwriting is my red button.

When I’m sitting with a guitar at my kitchen table or in my basement bike shop/studio and I’m deep into writing a song AND I know I’ve cracked it, it’s a pretty great feeling. I don’t want to get too precious here, but that’s when the song finally exists as its own thing. It’s a simple, (hopefully) functioning little beast still visible from the tarpit from which it emerged.

I started Four Track Substack to have an easy way of releasing some of these simple creatures. I may release a song I finished that morning, or one like The Scud Mountain Boys “Letter To Bread” that I wrote when I was 17 while watching The Guiding Light soap opera in my parents’ bedroom because they had the big color TV. I may feather in actual recordings I made back in the day of songs-in-progress. But releasing unfinished demos is not the point of Four Track Substack. Finished songs in their simplest form is the point.

I hope you enjoy them. Thanks for listening. —JP

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Musician and writer Joe Pernice shares recordings and some words about making them.