There’s a lot of data in the brain that informs the song sequence on a live performance set list (or LP, for that matter), but essentially it’s a “feel” process:
– Is it time for a lift of tempo?
– Have I leaned on the guitar for too many tunes? Is it time for a song with those wide piano chords I love …
– Where do I tuck the one the sounds like the “single,” at the beginning or in the middle?
– What’s the key change? Shall we change from C to G-flat … two keys that are as musically different as you can get, but it speaks differentness and wakes up the palate.
All of these pieces of information come together as part of that “feel” process. I know the tunes so well that if I have these 10 little musical crayons and I’ve chosen songs one, two and three, and I’m wondering, What wants to be four?, it comes down to What feels like it wants to come next?
In the end, I’m listening for a beautiful flow. If one song ends and then another, and then another, and oh, the chords do work, this whole thing works, now the chain and sequence takes shape, with choice after choice, linkage after linkage, until it’s all working and together the songs tell the story the artist is hoping for.
I have had years of being a functioning artist in this dysfunctional, one-track, pop, middle-brow, over-hyped, streaming, noisy culture … and within that I’ve tried to be an artist who cares about the full beauty of musical order and sequence, whose sound is sincere and whose love of connection is deep. That’s my crayon crusade.