Oh the mind hole is working overtime today.
Just a couple of minutes ago I was walking outside and kept seeing these shriveled up leather looking things on the sidewalk. They almost looked like old pieces of shoe lace or something. On closer, not too close,inspection I noticed that they were dead worms, all shriveled up from getting baked on the hot sidewalk.
Hmmpfff I thought
Then the analogy machine started working in the old mind hole.
A large rain had come the day before and these creatures had been flooded out of the ground and sought safety on the most available surface they could, the sidewalk. Then mother nature played a trick on them by having the sun come back up and before they could get back to a new place of safety they were baked on the sidewalk.
Not fair. Not fair at all.
But then that spurned me to thinking. Where are the worms that did not get baked on the sidewalk? What made them pick the correct time to crawl back to the earth and not become a piece of shoelace?
Many of us, myself included, have been the worm sitting on the sidewalk just waiting to get baked, not knowing exactly where to go.
What do I draw from this analogy?
The only thing staying the same is the changes. Just because this one spot seems safe, or safer than the place that was once dangerous, does not mean it is going to stay that way. We have to be prepared to move and change with the changes even going back to a situation or place that was once inhospitable.And most importantly we have to know when that time is.
Perhaps I saw something there in all those dried up worms on the sidewalk. Perhaps I saw something analogous to my life or yours.
Or maybe I just saw some worms dried up on the sidewalk.
Way back in 2000 and something I heard the name Derek Sivers. If you are in the musical world or the music making game and are not familiar with that name I will have to ask “where you been?”
Seriously Derek Sivers started, grew and then sold CDBaby. He revolutionized the way music was purchased and shook up an industry already reeling. Then, obviously, he had sense enough to move along.
Now he has written a book which I just purchased.
You can too here
It is already reverberating about and I am really looking forward to it.
Thanks Derek Sivers for being you!
The line, it is drawn, the curse, it is cast
The slow one will later be fast
And the present now will soon be the past
The order is rapidly fading
The first one now will later be last
For the times, they are a changing
Bet Bob Dylan didn’t see all these changes coming way back in 1964. Sure his song is very topical for its time and makes excellent, perhaps the most excellent, commentary on the era, at least that is what the index of pretty much any book you pick up about the 1960’s will tell you. But now, flip that on its head, and fast forward to 2011 and that same artist could really be singing about his career if he weren’t,errr , Bob Dylan. But Bob Dylan as a young 20 something in 2011 sure as sand could be singing about himself. Except the times are not changing, they have changed.
I am working on helping other artists adjust to these changes and move into new, possibly uncomfortable, areas. And the question came up with a person I work with, it was asked by me, and made me think of the lyric above. “Where does the line start or end between musician and promoter, or artist and online publicist, or recording artist and manager?” It took me back a bit. I had posed a question to myself. Great I was talking to myself? But would I answer myself.
Where does this line begin and end? By being other roles to other people was I jumping into new skin? Was I being this person part of the time and then this person the other times and then I realized, in these crazy times I was being kind of like my dad’s definition of a man. He used to say, when I asked when I would be a man, “A man is a man when a man is called for.” I would always go “huh?” and pretend that I understood. But we are in this same conundrum. And here is the answer to the question.
“the line is now erased.”
My Title/Question has the same intent that the title of article I am referencing below has: to get your attention. Hope it worked
Check out the article
The author Scott Austin has released a book called Quit Rock and provides an excerpt here for those who might be interested in the subject and hopefully his book.
And man is he dead on correct about the subject. He is not telling people to quit, quite the opposite, and he opines in the same spirit that I often do on this digital screed. I think you should read this, heck it made me want to read the whole thing, but I get the feeling that he is not going to tell me anything I already do not know, though I suspect he will highlight and give me some needed pointers I might be missing. Besides he is a good writer. Basically, to summarize, he tells you what I always would tell you: get off your arse and get to it. Get busy doing and stop looking for the label to make your career cause it is not going to happen. A label is probably, strike that most likely, strike again, is not going to really be an option to you.
He extols the ethos of hard work and making the best of what you have. He tells you to be an innovator in an unstable world and be a trail maker instead of looking for those blazed by others. Are you out of breath yet?
Does that make you want to quit? I darn hope so. It leaves more room for the rest of us willing to do the hard work and still make a legitimate go of it.
Get a dose of reality folks. This guy hits it out of the park for honesty and down right in your face “hello time to stop whining and wake up.” Fortunately for him he does it in a much more equitable fashion than I do, but of course I am not trying to sell a book so I can see why he want to tone it down a bit.
Keep on with the keeping on Scott Austin!
I have mentioned this in another blog but I really love listening to old classic music and I am not talking just about your run of the mill classic rock station. I am blessed to have a local station which broadcasts nothing but old country, rock, and really rare southern sounding things that you just don’t hear on the radio anymore. What this does is more than a simple burst of nostalgia because most of these songs were penned and released long before I ever drew breath on this planet. I really learn a great deal from the songs on there.
One song in particular is Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe” which is an exercise is sweet southern gothic. First the arrangement is sparse and let’s her sultry vocal breath. You can almost feel like you are right there with her as she strums her acoustic and tells her tale of the mysterious suicide of the song’s title character.
What is amazing about this work is the depth of its simplicity. Bobbie Gentry manages to tell a novel length or movie length story in 4 verses. The words are not labored and are so totally conversational one could feel as though this was a simple telling of events done to music, which it very well may be.
This is the lesson of being natural and simple in order to write great material. Find a theme and tell a story. All you aspiring songwriters would do yourself no harm in listening to this one and others like it. It might also not be a bad idea to find some obscure golden oldies station on the radio or the internet and start absorbing some of the ways of these songwriters. They did not become legendary by accident.
Bobbie Gentry Article
This is as much for me as it is anyone else reading this. It is easy to get bogged down in the to do list and forget that each opportunity is an opportunity to make the best out of any set of scenarios presented to you. When you book an event the event does not make nor define you, unless you let it. The key is that you make the event. No matter if it is a coffee shop gig for 25 bucks and a free latte, you make it the best 25 buck gig that place has ever seen.
Here is the logic.
Was CBGB’s any different from any dive bar in the Bowery? Not really. The groups and the community surrounding it made the scene. Arguably they may have composed most of its crowd but nonetheless they created an excitement and helped spark the flame that tipped the boat into Punk Rock. If not for events being made by the artists the public would have grasped onto something else and the one or two bands that tried to make a go of it would have given in to frustration and quit.
This is just one example.
I can also bet good money that there were bars all around that area that had live music and we don’t remember a darn one of the bands that played in the year Punk broke.
Is Punk seemingly bigger now than it really ever was when it was being publicized, maybe so, but it reverberates to this day, that is my point. Without the initial will of the people surrounding it and nurturing (yeah that kind of contrasts: Punk and Nurture but I am brainstorming here) it there would be no reverberation.
Start where you are. Scenes became scenes because people drew attention to them. Same with Grunge, same with Metal, same with Memphis in the 50’s. A scene is just an empty space, a room of brick and mortar, a bar full of Bowery drunks who get invaded by a bunch of kids with safety pins stuck in them. People make it thus.
Small or large it all starts from nothing. Just like your music.
It has to be cultivated before it can be manifested.
So you want to make music? Let me tell you something. It don’t cost you a dime. Want to become some kind of rock star? Good luck with that. Want to see a modest income and keep out of the straight world? Could be done. But get it straight right from jump street, and I do not mean the 80’s TV show. This “ain’t no childish stuff” or in the words of Sonhouse this ain’t no “monkey junk.”
It requires hard work and time. It requires you to be misunderstood by about 98 or 99% of the population because first what you are attempting is ludicrous and what you are doing is rare, that is being able to play music.
Here is the rub. You have to ask yourself this question: What is most important? In your daily grind of Tweeting and FB’ing and Tumbling and whatever new gimmick the techies are thinking up to control the world with are you putting back into the offering plate at the holy church of ROck N Roll, because if you do not tithe at this church the gods will most undoubtedly frown on you!
It is a hard balance but at the end of the day when all else is dripped away you have to make compelling music, with all your passion, care and artistry. That is the cover charge at the door. And by god you gotta love doing that piece of the work and learn to at least tolerate the other. I do the other work because it lets me get to do two things I love in life. One is perform in front of a crowd of people with a group of people I love making music with and love as kindred spirits and brothers. Two is it lets me get in a studio, same group of people, for hours and “art” which means to take these sounds in my head which possess me like demons and get them out where the rest of you have to hear them, hahahah. Crazy sounding right? I love it! It is probably the closest to a Zen experience I will ever know. Total focus, all else is silliness. That is what I was put here to do.
My time on this earth will be spent making music.
Those are my reasons.
But really it is one: I love making music!
What the heck is yours?