Thursday, March 24, 2016 Leave a Comment
We all have challenges. Pernicious setbacks that set a tone. No forward movement. For the DIY musician these are not an uncommon occurrence, but rather par for the course. Shows get cancelled. Band mates get sick. Jobs schedule trips you didn’t plan on and suddenly that new venue you convinced to take a risk on you is receiving a phone call about how you can’t make it 2 weeks before the gig. Your Subaru Forester, which normally is the shining example of endurance, shits the bed and leaves you stranded just outside Asheville, NC at a Firestone for 6 hours (God bless Firestone employees, working on a Sunday :), when you’re supposed to be the headliner at a public event you promised you’d play because last year it was quote “kinda dull and there’s gonna be a ton of people there”.
So why do it? What’s the point? Most normal human beings would imagine that suffering through even just the above is enough to throw in the towel, sell you gear, get golf clubs, and become people with their weekends off.
I’ll tell you why. And every other artist on the planet will agree with this. It’s because we just love it. Whatever part that is, whether that’s the writing, the recording, the distributing, the sharing our music, the excitement and butterflies before a gig, the stage, the late nights, the bad habits, the drinks with strangers whose lives you might have changed (at least that’s how they explain it — whether or not that’s true, who knows), the camaraderie, the shared struggle, and the smell of you and yours, the sweat running down your forehead as you climb back into the van with your ears still ringing with a wide, wide smile across your face because tonight you made your mark, maybe even made somebody’s night. Our lives have thankfully stumbled upon the fruit we were given as we were created and the energy, the fire, the non-stop heroin-like need to fulfill that gift, exercise our gift, share our gift with others like us — is sometimes all that we think about.
Art/Music can make a difference. I wrote last year in a post you can read here. We can change the course of someone’s night, make a regular, maybe even dull, moment shimmer with life and power, give moxie to a room, and give young people something to aspire to, to work towards.
But there is that lot of you that can’t stand this idealistic bull. I recognize you because there are days that I’m just like you sipping a craft beer while leaning at the back wall of a dive bar, criticizing the lead singer’s pipes while he croons too closely to the mic, slightly off-key, scoffing at the people in the front who are just too excited for a Tuesday night, wondering when the hell this song will end. Let be the first to remind you that there is an idealist inside all of us as artists. If there wasn’t, you would’ve stopped playing years ago for sheer aggravation of the whole process of playing your music outside of your bedroom. Asking strangers to jam with you, practicing for months only to have a band mate quit, or God-forbid you change your band name for the 3 rd time this year, to lug all this equipment to a hole in the wall, beg your friends to come and watch you play, only to have a few of them stay for a few minutes then move to somewhere where the bartender isn’t such an asshole, is all just so heartbreaking when it’s written out like this in plain blank text.
We need idealistic people. Artists. Musicians. Poets. Painters. Weirdos. We need them to believe in something, despite all logic, that is magical. How many people came forward after David Bowie passed away and mentioned that had it not been for him, their lives would simply be less awesome? Note: Apparently Simon Pegg didn’t write this, but I don’t care, it’s the point of the quote. Or Glen Frey? Or Scott Weiland? These aren’t perfect people, but these are people who believed enough in their art to take chances.
We need to believe in something. It’s important. Even if it doesn’t make a ton of sense to everyone who is looking from the outside in. Believe in each other, your friends, other artists, your family. Believe that they have something to bring to the table that everyone can learn, can appreciate, can take something away from. Art takes a lot of forms and art is necessary, otherwise, what is the point?
Until next time,