Going green is all the rage these days. I'm not going to lie, I'm a bit of what you may call a "tree hugger". I recycle anything I can whether it be cardboard, aluminum cans, paper, plastic, and glass, I even have a small little compost bucket that's festering in the garage; I conserve energy, I drive a fuel efficient car, I have cloth bags for the grocery store, I pick up trash on the sidewalk as I'm walking the dog. I'm not a sheep following the herd, it's just how I roll, I don't push it on other people, to each his own, I just like doing it.
My recycling doesn't end there. My green heart extends all the way to my music. Sure, it doesn't do much for the environment, but it resuses old ideas that have stalled or that didn't quite work with their original tune.
That's the beauty of my old Moleskine notebook because all of my old ideas are there just waiting for a resurrection among the wrinkled and scribbled over pages. My Garageband folder also has a long list of weird titled guitar riffs and song segments, some that I haven't listened to in years. (Fluff, Fish, Sox In Japan, and I Suck to name a few.) I've found it's absolutely necessary to take out these old "gems" from yester-year for consideration in the tunage of today.
Songwriting is just that fickle of a friend. What works now may not work in five minutes, then will work a year later in a totally different context. I never completely give up on anything and I think that's very important to the process. (Yeah, I talk about my "process" a lot. This stupid process fuels my obsession but can be the bane of my existense on my worst day.)
I love hearing examples of this same technique in the big leagues. I stumbled across an old demo from one of my fave bands Three Days Grace called "This Movie". I immediately recognized the beginning riff as a riff from their debut self titled album and a song called "Overrated". It's exciting to hear the differences and the massive improvements from one song to the other.
It goes to show that when it comes to music, nothing is set in stone. (Well, until you release that major label debut. If you steal an idea from one of those songs you'll just be seen as unoriginal.) Thanks to my short-term musical memory I'm constantly flipping through my books in my attempt to reuse, reduce and recycle into my next full tune that could end up itself being torn apart and reused somewhere else.
Though, just like most recyclable materials, it's probably good to know when to just throw it in the trash because you've gotten about all the use it held. After all, what's the point of using a over used, out of date piece of recycled music that can't hold it's shape and may even stink a little. That's not rockin', not one bit.