For over two years at Stanford I taught an undergraduate course called “Sounds of Stanford.” The course asked students to choose topics of local and personal interest, conduct archival and primary research, record and produce podcasts in groups of other students (creating hour-long episodes), and then post their products to the Stanford Digital Repository.
With the help of Jonathan Manton (now at Yale) and the Stanford Archive of Recorded Sound, I’m very happy to announce that all of the students’ materials (including scripts, works cited, and bonus materials) is now officially hosted in the Stanford Libraries’ system, where it will live on forever (or until California falls into the sea.)
I’m very honored and happy to have a piece published in Across the Disciplines. My multimedia piece, “Author in the Arts: Composing and Collaborating in Text, Music, and the Visual Arts,” revisits a course I took in undergrad at Michigan that started my fascination with collaboration and the intersection of writing, speaking, and multimodality.
There are no individual song posts, but hop on over to the Music page to see the full track listing for this year’s 2015 Year in Review compilation. I’m hoping to post some links and stories about a few in the coming days/weeks. Until then, here are the songs in case you don’t want to make the jump with me:
1. “Betray My Heart,” D’Angelo and the Vanguard [Black Messiah]
2. “Make You Better,” The Decemberists [What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World]
3. “Sound & Color,” Alabama Shakes [Sound & Color]
4. “Should Have Known Better,” Sufjan Stevens [Carrie & Lowell]
5. “Pedestrian At Best,” Courtney Barnett [Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit]
6. “Under a Rock,” Waxahatchee [Ivy Tripp]
7. “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas,” Beach Slang [The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us]
8. “That’s Love,” Oddisee [The Good Fight]
9. “Waitress,” Hop Along [Painted Shut]
10. “Ship to Wreck,” Florence & The Machine [How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful]
11. “Sprinter,” TORRES [Sprinter]
12. “24 Frames,” Jason Isbell [Something More Than Free]
13. “Sprained Ankle,” Julien Baker [Sprained Ankle]
14. “Stay On My Shore,” Joan Shelley [Over and Even]
15. “Maggie I’ve Been Searching For Our Son,” Craig Finn [Faith in the Future]
16. “Sleeper Hold,” Saintseneca [Such Things]
17. “What Part of Me,” Low [Ones and Sixes]
18. “Bad Blood,” Ryan Adams 
19. “One,” Moving Panoramas [One]
20. “Baby When I Close My Eyes,” Sweet Spirit [Cokomo]
21. “Disciple,” Tame Impala [Currents]
22. “June,” Prince [HITNRUN Phase One]
I’m woefully behind on updating this site. Ending our tenure in California, and beginning anew in Austin, took more out of my schedule than I realized. Fear not, though. Every page on this site is currently being updated and revised. Brand new content on the way!
Just recently I sent an email to all of the students I’ve had since 2012. I was surprised to see that the number was in the hundreds by this point. Of that pool, a handful wrote back with some very nice things to say. Surprisingly, though, a trend emerged that I hadn’t quite expected: several, independent of one another, thanked me for being so open in the classroom. They noted how their other teachers never seemed as comfortable and as free to talk about themselves and admit their own flaws.
I guess it surprised me for a number of reasons, the first being that the word “comfortable” is one I’d never use to describe myself at any point in my life. It’s not even in my vocabulary. But second, these notes presumed that it was a conscious decision, as if I could have done it any other way.
It reminds me that I’ve heard that insecure people who are scared of letting people in tend to be the people that talk the most about themselves. Lots of people mistake it for arrogance or narcissism, but it’s really a defense mechanism: by preempting the conversation you can control it in some small way. You may also wear the you-as-conversation out before others have a chance to jump in.
That about sums it up for me, I think.
But these email compliments also overlook that teaching, at its best, is a kind of performance. In many ways my teaching is raw and overly personal; I take literally everything to heart (sometimes too much so). But at the same time, it’s not really me. It’s a version of me that I’ve created in the classroom and that I turn on each morning and turn off on my way home. I’ve often said that I’m who I truly want to be when I’m in front of a class, but I also think that’s because I’m playing the part that I’m the most comfortable slipping in and out of.
Which is all to say that this annual list, and these annual entries are public, confessional, and a bit performative, too. I honestly don’t know if they’re me at my most essential, or me dolled up expecting an audience. Maybe it’s both, or one or the other when I’m feeling more or less vulnerable. I dunno.
But it’s been fun. And I think it demonstrates, for me at least, how closely aligned writing and music are, how little space sits between fact and fiction, how privacy is a fantasy that I don’t allow myself to indulge in for at least one time each year.
And how like me I am.
Maybe in writing all of this and putting it out there you can see that you are too.