A Musician's Lament
I have a confession to make. Being a musician is the one thing I have always wanted to do ever since I was a small child; and now pursuing/living my dream is the scariest thing I have ever done. To be perfectly frank with you I have a lot of passion but also regret and a lot of questions as to why I was made with this passion for music.
Being a musician does have a lot of perks! You get to see a lot. You meet a lot of people, towns, nooks and crannies of society that others may not get to see. Some people never leave their home state. I've been in 13 states and have seen both coasts, and plan on seeing 4 more new states this year. You're always the center of attention in conversation with strangers at the bar, cafe, parking lot, or stage left. Distant relatives and the like gawk as you rattle on about what you do because it's not everyday people meet full-time musicians. You see, in you they see their adventurous side that was tucked away under their red and white striped sweaters and is currently being suffocated under a student loan, rent and a car payment. Martyred and replaced for a day job and a real life. See there? Even off stage you're always the entertainer and wordsmith. You get to make money doing what you enjoy doing and you live The American Dream by being your own boss (if you don't have a label or a manager). Every show, every road trip is an adventure.
But like they say, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. All you do is travel. All you do is go go go when at times all you want to do is stay home and do something mundane like lay on the couch and watch Friends or cook dinner or mow the lawn or do the laundry or clean the house, do the dishes SOMETHING domestic and ANYTHING but travel! However you have to travel to earn a meager wage that you could earn at another decent day job. Self-employment taxes are a pain. What is retirement and insurance? Fathers and Mothers beware: don't let your daughter date a musician!
Your car takes a beating and so does your body, your mind, your soul and your heart. It's a tough road to walk down if you don't like rejection. Substance abuse is rampant and I see why. If you don't have religion or something to ground you it is so easy to lose yourself. It's hard to keep a relationship going and you're torn because you make a living by being the center of attention to strangers with ease while at the same time you may be struggling to be the center of attention to a significant other. That goes for girlfriends, finances and wives. It's a problem that plagues all ages and life cycles if not handled properly. You'll get plenty of songs out of that. "Least I'll get a good song out of it" has been my motto now for years. You entertain these strangers with your stories and lyrics and melodies about so-and-so, all the while thinking in your mind about how your life style is the very thing that pushed them away. That's a twisted cycle that I have found makes me feel even more empty at times, especially since I grow older.
Every. Single. Day. I am reminded of why I love what I do and why I can't do anything else. And every single day I am haunted and strongly reminded of the fact that my life as a whole would be so much easier if I just didn't play music anymore. My circle of friends would be different, my ex girlfriend may not be my ex. A real place to live, a car that doesn't look, sound, drive or smell like crap. I'd maybe look healthier and dress a little nicer. Maybe some rose bushes in the yard and a pretty red head who sits with me in the evenings on the porch swing, hand in hand while she sips Oliver Winerie's Soft Red Wine while we're listening to the crickets and enjoying our silent company. (not that I'm a man of experience or anything) The big words are stability and security. Stability and security. But life would be so stagnant and boring...who wants that? I do, but only sometimes, and sometimes more than others.
To you musicians who say you really want to do this: put your money where your mouth is. You want to play music for a living stop doing free shows and demand guarantees. You want to make it a thing learn to sacrifice. You better love music, because sometimes music doesn't love you. And we all love music, us musicians just want it to love us back. Keep working at it though because your hard work will pay off! Once you make it happen, your next big challenge is to balance your professional life with the rose bushes, quiet nights with your red head wife, kids, and more. After you make your dream happen it is all about making that safety and security I just talked about real to yourself and your loved ones. But that's another blog for another time.
"Livin' on the road my friend, was gonna keep you free and clean. Now you wear your skin like iron and your breath is as hard as kerosene." - Townes Van Zandt