I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions – they’ve always struck me as being more than a little silly. How does the roll-over from one calendar year to the next mark any sort of significant change in a person? And what good is promising to “give up sweets” for an entire year? Especially when we know that we won’t last the week? To promise to “try to work out more” is a bit of a cop-out – we know we should, but we know we won’t. We haven’t made any real effort yet, so forget about making one now.

I’ll admit, though, to having made two “resolutions” in January 2008: to read 50 books, and to buy at least one book per week. The latter, I abandoned in September when I ran out of money (though I rallied last week when I raided the used bookstores near my parents’ house in IL and came away with around 15 new volumes for my shelves). The former, though, I reached by the end of July. I hit the mid-60s in September and since then haven’t been able to maintain a sustained effort. (Maybe, though, that’s because I no longer ride the subway for an hour to and from work each day since I was laid off from my day job in…let’s see…September. Anybody have a spare day job lying around that I might borrow?) The big difference here, though, is that these were achievable goals, and dealt with pursuits that I already cared about and was involved in.

Which is by way of saying that in honor of the changing of the last digit in the calendar year, I’d like to begin a new project. I’d like to propose, as proposingly as I might, this propose: a “Songbook” – a song album, if you will – of individual art songs not attached to any larger structure such as a song cycle – some twenty to twenty-five art songs on diverse poetry for any voice, collected into a single volume and published by the Tobenski Music Press.

I’m budgeting about two years for the project so that I can take my time with it. This way, I can chip away at it slowly between larger projects. The extended timeline is also in hopes that some of the songs will be commissioned (songalbumproject@tobenskimedia.com/dennistobenski) along the way. Who wouldn’t want their name in italics above the title of a published song?

And to inaugurate this new project is “It’s all I have to bring”, a short song on the Dickinson poem of the same name, composed for Neri Shulman’s 60th birthday.