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talk about self-discipline
by: Melissa Stanley - July 8, 2008

Paleo (aka: David Strackany), a local songwriter originating from Elgin, Illinois, has earned national acclaim for his Song Diary project, which consisted of writing, recording, and uploading a new song to his website every day for an entire year. He made up the rules as he went along:
1) If he skipped a day, the Song Diary would automatically end.
2) Every song had to be recorded before sunrise.
3) Nothing could be re-recorded (I witnessed his recording of "Twenty Lanes of Traffic”– it was recorded and uploaded to his website in 15 minutes).
Paleo completed his song marathon on Tax Day, April 2007. The entire 365-song collection is available to download on his website (, free of charge. Paleo has played well over 200 shows in the past year from coast to coast, and he’s not stopping any time soon.

What would the past year have been like for you if you didn't do the Song Diary?

On the one hand, it probably wouldn't have been much different. Even before I came up with the Song Diary idea, I had already planned to really start touring in earnest. I would have still done quite a bit of touring and traveling, meeting a lot of people, reading poetry, writing music. Though the free time would have allowed me to work more on or even finish Ped Xing (the album I abandoned to tackle The Diary), I would have done a lot of the same things. On the other hand, on a personal level, the year would have been starkly different. I feel like a completely different person than when I started out. It was grace, like I died and came back. My perspective on my relationship to love and to art and to my family has totally changed. You have to consider that I spent every second of every day of a whole year in a sort of constant state of catharsis, what seemed like never-ending auto-psychoanalysis. I walked into the Diary maybe a little desperate, certainly insecure, and I walked out on a cloud. Amazing, amazing grace. Without that year, truth be told, I think I'd still be a little lost.

Do you find it easier to write music if you attach a time frame to it?

I think setting boundaries and obstacles for yourself is a great way to excite your creativity, be it time frames or anything else. Cut off four of the six strings on your guitar, and try making the two you leave not necessarily two adjacent strings, and I bet you'll write a song you wouldn't have written otherwise. Too much freedom can be every bit the cage.

Do you ever feel burned out from writing so much?

I only get burned out when I don't write.


"I only get burned out when I don't write."

"Song Diary "

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what it is

Urgent folk-rock, recorded with gentle, emotion-filled vocals, for those who like: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bon Iver.