P. Bear’s Hit Parade – A Special Top 40 Episode

On July 24th Yours Truly will have released 100 songs (including the bonus tracks available on CD and iTunes–see song index) in this calendar year!

Over the weekend I took some time to select my own top 40 from the first six months/albums. I didn’t think too hard about it. I’m sure if I did it again I would favor a few others over what’s here. Anyway, I made a 46 minute memoir mix for an enhanced podcast episode. Incidentally, there are four bonus tracks which made the cut (the last two have not yet been released–a little teaser for the hard-core fans, I guess).

I hope that if you enjoy this you won’t hesitate to support me with a purchase from the shop or iTunes. (I take special joy in mailing out the box sets, personally.)

Download in iTunes here.

The Hit Parade Tracklist (what do you think I missed?):

Wonder Happens
Elephants On Parade
Frogs In Tuxes
Fantasy & Denoument
Wavy Glass
Caterpillar Brigade
Thee Horse Song
Steppin In
Sunset Stroll Into The Woods
Clouds Rain Sun
The Speed Of Life
Le Monstre
Thought Bubbles
Kitty In The Window
Chainlink Melody
Scrubbing Bubbles
Sunday Morning
Get Happy Now
Yip Yop
Dim Dim
The Album Leaf
Blur & Coalesce
Floating Up From The Cubicle
The Beach
Re: Joyce
Bass of Hearts
The Hump
Into The Unknown

*note: On the afternoon of Sunday the 15th the iTunes app would crash when trying to download an iteration of this file. It was a bizarre phenomenon that was tricky to troubleshoot. I temporarily removed this post, but everything seems smooth now. Go figure. I plan on letting Apple know about it, for what it’s worth.

P. Bear’s Evolution.


Dear reader,

As you may know, I’m just over half way to my goal of releasing a song every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in 2007. The songs are premiered via the P. Bear Podcast and collected in digital albums, and most famously The Box Set. This release schedule will amount to 156 songs released, for free, in 2007. But that’s not all. Because I’m giving them away I wanted to create bonus tracks as an insentive for people to buy the definitive, higher quality versions. This will add about 24 more songs, or so. At present I’m fast approaching song #100 with 95 released. For those of you who were introduced to my music a while ago, I hope you’ve enjoyed the evolution as much as I have.

Around the middle of March or so the P. Bear Podcast experienced a windfall of media interest from the likes of NPR,, mp3 blogs and iTunes editors themselves, at one point pushing it up the iTunes Music Podcast Chart to #3. Since then it’s been a bit quiet, which might lead one to believe that it was all just a flash in the pan. All I know is that have focused 99% on the music since that time, and 1% on promotion. For example, I did an interview with The Globe & Mail in May and am only now getting round to posting a link. The way I see it, I’m still just getting started, and I’m brimming with ideas for the final acts of this play! If when I started my music was ‘okay’, and my stated goal was to become ‘amazing’, then I’d be happy to have reached ‘appealing’ by now. I’m not sure if I’ll get there, but a bear’s gotta aim for somethin’.

Yours truly,

p bear

Why go on?

The halfway point of any journey is a reckoning. Looking back you see clearly how much effort was expelled to get you where you are, which makes you acutely aware of what it will take to finish. The worker returning from a lunch break braces himself for the next four hours of the shift. The hiker remembers all the hill climbs, gazing toward the horizon. The bleary-eyed driver takes a monumental risk calling on a ‘second wind’.

On the eve of reaching the midpoint of my podcast journey (that is, my year of making a song for every other weekday, releasing them via podcast), I awoke with a fly of a thought buzzing around in my head. Shoo fly, I said.

This fly was the spector of a comment left as a customer review of the P Bear Podcast. It was filed around April 23rd ( I know because I decided to respond to it in song, with April 25th’s “Get Happy Now”). This ‘customer’, Drunkninja, warns would-be listeners, “There’s a reason bands don’t write three new songs per week…the tunes are interesting for about 30 seconds or so and then become boring and simple. He’s using a nice sample library and paints a nice picture but lacks any understanding of chord progressions and the role they play in taking the listener on a journey.” Rating: lowest possible, one star.

It’s strange how criticism can buzz around in your brain. I guess I’m considering this now because I’m very aware of both my understanding of music (my technical aptitudes and limitations played out in over 75 songs so far this year) and my personal journey, and I’m puzzled by what would motivate someone to go to the trouble of suggesting that P Bear alone (there are no other customer reviews attributed to Drunkninja) is boring and foolishly ambitious, and should probably just stop.

What gets my goat is that this is the obvious gambit: That making a song every other weekday and expecting people might find it worthy of their listening time is so obviously foolhardy. I mean, who has that kind of time? Life is hectic. There are all kinds of pitfalls to any journey which is in any way novel and / or challenging.

Like, when I think about running marathon, it seems like a good idea, but hard, and maybe even boring. I mean, it would require a lot of time to train my body to do that. It’s slightly interesting, not a meritless concept anyway, but not for me. I’d rather walk here and there. So when I put myself in Drunkninja’s shoes in this analogy, for example, and I see someone training for a marathon, what would motivate me to actually leave notice for them like, “There’s a reason most people don’t run marathons. What you’re doing may be a fine idea but your execution is boring and by the way, you lack any real understanding of foot progressions and the role this plays in walking. You should just stop. You are one star in my book. Zero, actually, but my computer won’t let me put zero.”

I don’t know what the moral of this story is exactly. Different things make different people tick. I’m aware that my musical journey would have the natural tendency to drift in to watered-down, boring, samey territory. I even make a special effort to produce work that may surprise the listener who would expect this tendency. I’m not an academic. I don’t feel like I need to know the finer points of music theory to make songs or post them freely on the internet. I don’t think what I’m doing is an affront to the notion of the way bands do things.

What I do know is these songs are to me, both satisfying to create and listen to. And I intend to finish the journey I embarked on January 1, 2007!


P Bear.

The Haps.

Hello Folks.

Just thought I’d update you on a few developments.

1. On Comments: The P Bear blog was getting overwhelmed with spam. Ug! I don’t care for it much. So to leave a comment you have to register now. (That might be contributing to the quiet spell, of late.)  I do enjoy all the comments readers / listeners have left in the past, so I hope this won’t deter you if you are so motivated. I’m not an avid comment maker myself, so I understand if that’s not your style of participation. I also wanted to thank all those who have dropped a line via email. The encouragement really does keep me going! My skills are limited, so I do have to work to get the songs done for y’all.


2. On The Box Set: The box set is scheduled to ship next week. The CDs have arrived and are just awaiting the boxes from the printer. They sound and look swell! Originally available at $39.99 to the first 50 customers, I’ve decided to open the floodgates and set the price there indefinitely! Also, in keeping, I’ve reduced the pay as you go rate to $4.49 for 10 months. I want to give people little excuxe not to own my music in it’s finest form. I also want to delight people with something to look forward to in the postbox.

3. On Digital: The first four collections are widely available through digital retailers, with the most recent addition being “Haplessly Happy”. iTunes has exclusive bonus tracks and $7.99 pricing. If you have enjoyed P Bear music for free I ask only that you consider leaving a customer review on the newer iTunes releases, so that the music keeps getting discovered. You’re all I’ve got.

Truly, P Bear


Said Lion To Lamb


Liquid Gold


Meet Poodingotn Bear


Some bits I learned from being in a band.

Hi All,

I’m just thinking about how I got to this

I’m a completely untrained musician, but I’ve mentioned in a couple interviews that I was in an indie-pop band a while back. Bands are hard work, and they’re a lot of fun. I think all bands are greater than the sum of their parts. Besides being character-building, making music with other people is one of the most satisfying experiences one can have in life. I just wanted to share a few things I learned from being in a band that I often think about when I’m making music alone:

-Bass notes played with the kick drum give the song a tight feel.

-If the rhythm section (bass and drums) is tight you can get away with just about anything on the top end.

-Songs endings are as important as song beginnings.

-It’s totally okay if a song is really simple and a 5th grader could play it. Nothing to be ashamed of.

-Make space for the vocal, or lead.

-Look for natural accents in a rhythm and have all the instrument voices chime on them for a strong. feel. For example, a funk recipe calls for a strong two and four count.

-Songs with more than verse-chorus-verse construction are usually more satisfying.

-Freaking out after a build up usually gets the crowd’s attention.

-It’s best to play a ballad after you get the crowd’s attention, not before.

-Loud is louder when juxtaposed with quiet. (That’s how to ‘turn it to 11’.)

-Avoid stopping mid-song at all costs.

-You can change anything (tempo, key, mood, volume) in a bridge, but it can’t come out of nowhere.

-Crescendos, drum fills, slowly decaying chords, and stick counts are handy for such changes.

-The melody is the memorable part of the song.

-A satisfying show and a good album have a mix of moods and tempos.

-The right mood for a song might not come at first. Push and pull. Trial and error.

-Having fun is job #1.

Voila, making pop music is easy peasy!

-p bear