I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

June 26, 2012 - 12:00 p.m.

To perform or not perform, that is the question

My body has not been happy the last few days. I'll use that as my excuse why I haven't been getting things done. I still haven't bought my cooking gear or gone to Trader Joe's. I had frozen pizza bagels for dinner last night instead of really cooking. That was sad. Another problem was the weather. Every time I got myself ready to leave it started pouring. I'll do better today or die in the attempt. Today's goals, Trader Joe's, restaurant supply store, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, School, Christopher Street Coffee House Board Meeting, prepare my wish list for next year's CSCH season. I've been preparing that in my head since I joined the board but I want to put it on paper so I don't forget anyone.

Yesterday wasn't a total waste, I bought linen pants at Marshall's. What I couldn't get was a window fan. My apartment is hot because it doesn't have good cross ventilation I have one window without a screen. That's where I'd put the fan and the breeze would go right across my computer and the couch; where I spend most of my time. The only issue would then be my bedroom. It has only one window and the AC is in it. I might have to rig something up so a fan blows right on my bed.

As you might have noticed I have a lot of friends that are musicians. One thing I've noticed is that people find it easy to talk to me when they have problems. You put those things together and I hear from many discouraged musicians. My definition of successful musician is one that doesn't need a day job. That might sound like it's setting the bar low but it isn't. There is just not that much money to be made in the field and it isn't distributed anything close to evenly. Equally important is that it isn't distributed fairly. I'm not sure there is even a good definition of fairly. Who deserves to make it? The performers I think are best? It doesn't work that way. And that's the one thing every performer has to keep in mind. If your career isn't going well it doesn't mean that you aren't good. You might even be great. There is so much luck involved. Why did Norah Jones become huge while Madeleine Peyroux who does something similar and in my eyes is more talented didn't? I'm not going to try and explain it. I suspect it's largely butterfly effect. It's not surprising as so much is dependent on buzz. Performers get gigs because everyone is talking about them and everyone talks about them because they get gigs.

When there's a contest the most talented people don't as a rule win or make the finals. They do more than the less talented but it's far from a sure thing. I've seen finalists that are inferior to dozens of performers I know that entered that didn't make it.

This isn't new of course. Just think Salieri and Mozart. We think that history sorts things out but it can't. How many of the greats got discouraged and gave up? How many were simply never discovered?

What should a discouraged musician do? How do you know you are good? Everyone isn't. There are some performers that I'd long to tell them they just don't have what it takes and to play for the joy it brings you, not in the hopes of making a living at it. I don't of course. So how can you know? Do people that you don't know socially first think you're good. That's a good sign; especially when they are people whose taste you respect. Especially when they are knowledgeable about music. If people like John Platt, Jake Jacobson, Ron Olesko, Carter Smith, Richard Cuccaro, Coco Wilde, and Kathy Sands-Boehmer like you the odds are you have something special. If many of them like you don't think of giving up.

The most important thing is to not lose track of what matters. Make the best music you can. If you are a songwriter keep writing. If you don't get satisfaction from making art for arts sake then perhaps music isn't right field for you. Then you have to take care of the little things. Like a ballplayer in a slump, who can't let it affect his fielding or lead to lack of hustle. If you want to be a professional you have to act like a professional. When you deal with presenters, radio people, and fans, act positive no matter what you are feeling in time. If you aren't enthusiastic about your music you can't expect other people to be. If you aren't punctual and easy to reach don't expect people to make the effort to hire you. There are a plenty of other talented musicians they can hire that will make their lives easier.

And what if none of that works? Appreciate that you have a gift. I'd be thrilled if I could sit down behind a guitar or piano and make music and sing songs that my ears could appreciate. If anyone else could enjoy it that would be bonus.

If you talked to me about being discouraged the odds are that I do think you're good and if nothing else you are making me happy. So stick with it or I'll cry.

Now let's see how much I can accomplish today.

Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Late to Bed and Late to Rise - September 30, 2017
On Your Feet or On Your Knees - September 29, 2017
Why Life Doesn't End on Closing Day - September 28, 2017
Anna and King of I Am - September 27, 2017

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Horvendile June 26, 2012
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