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
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
November 18, 2016 - 12:16 p.m.
I'm going to put of writing about politics, I might keep putting it off till I see my Facebook newsfeed slow down. When the primal scream is over it will be time to start serious discussion. Not that I'm in any way disparaging the primal scream. Do what you have to do. I feel the pain too.
I never made it out of the house yesterday. That's because I spent more than four hours writing My list of NERFA discoveries. I said I was finished writing about NERFA, and I meant it. But there are some leftovers that didn't fit anywhere. More importantly this is the perfect opportunity for me to write some constructive criticism without anyone taking it personally because I just heard a zillion musicians; I don't mean you.
I didn't leave the house but I did eat and should write about that. I made a minimal effort maximal taste dinner. I made roasted potatoes and a chicken breast. It takes so little to pimp them up and make a delicious meal. After cutting up the potatoes I put them in a plastic container with olive oil, garlic salt, MSG, and Cajun seasoning and shook it up. Then I poured them into a casserole dish. I put the chicken break in the same plastic container to coat it with the leftover oil and spices and put it in another casserole dish. I put them in an oven at 425° F for 22 minutes and I'm done. The final pimping was pouring Buffalo sauce on the breast. That all I did and it tasted amazing. Cooking your own dinner is good for both your physical and mental health. Don't tell yourself it's too much work.
Beth Duquette loves me, not like the rest of you, so she took pictures of me at NERFA. These two pics show so much of what NERFA is about; what makes it special.
That's me talking to Richard Ruane at the cocktail party. That socializing is a big part of NERFA. Karen Hudson is included because a pic of two old guys needs a cute woman in it for balance. I love the Richard's laugh.
That's me talking to Phil at one of the guerilla showcases. At NERFA you can listen to live music while lying in bed. That's how I dress for the late-night showcases, in my sleeping clothes, sweats and slippers. It's the key to keeping my energy up. Notice in both pictures I'm talking. That's just an unlikely happenstance. I'm usually quiet and keep my mouth shut. Stop giving me that look!
I'm still doing NERFA homework, I have friended people on Facebook but haven't sent emails inviting people to the Budgiedome. I'm very good at procrastinating. I should write about that. I'll do it tomorrow.
Now on to music. This is something I think about often and NERFA just reinforces it. There was a time, not that long ago, when musicians specialized, there were songwriters, singers, and instrumentalists. Nobody expected someone to be talented at all of them. Often one person wrote the music and another the lyrics. People did two but rarely all three. Did this make Billie Holiday, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, or Oscar Hammerstein lesser talents? Of course not; each and every one of them was a genius. Then came the late fifties and especially the early sixties Greenwich Village scene and all of a sudden, artists were expected to do everything. Sure, in a band not everyone did everything but each act was expected to be self-contained. People that just sang and Brill building songsmiths lost some luster. Instrumentalists became sidemen. They didn't change, they were as brilliant as ever, but people's perceptions did.
People usually do what's expected of them so that's what musicians felt they had to do. This was not a change for the better. People aren't equally talented at all these things. That means the music was not as good as it should be. I see this all the time and it's all over NERFA. I'm writing this to tell people it's fine to not do everything. Collaborate with others who do their thing better than you do while you concentrate on what you do best.
What I notice most often is people that can sing great, play guitar, serviceably, but are mediocre or even poor songwriters. There is so much sameness out there. Art Garfunkel said that he's fine not writing songs, everyone is not cut out for it. That's Art, folk-rock-pop god Garfunkel. If he's OK with it, you should be. If you don't have something original to say or an original way to say it, why write the song? There are so many great songs out there to sing. Hey there are people I know that write great songs but aren't good singers that either get by singing poorly or let their talents go to waste. Someone should be singing their songs.
There are people that are amazing instrumentalists but think that to get attention they have to sing and write songs. If you are a genius on the saxophone, play saxophone. Write songs, just write the music and have someone else write the lyrics if that's where your strength lies.
I'm not saying that people shouldn't try and expand their horizons. If you have an inner need to fill, if you have songs to write or songs to sing do it. Follow your music where it leads you. Just make sure that you are following your muse, not other people's expectations. Do what it takes to make the best music you can. It should be about the music, not what you think it takes to be successful or famous. Making great music is the surest path to both. It's no guarantee, most people that deserve fame don't achieve it but it's still the best path there is.
I understand the economics of collaborating. It costs money to hire people to play or sing for you or find people willing to split the money. It costs more for two people to go on the road than one. We make compromises with reality or we get nothing done. Just recognize the difference between necessity and social convention.
I'm still afraid that people are going to take this as me saying to not stretch your abilities. Of course, you should stretch. Just not at the expense of what you already do great.
Now to make breakfast. Is it a bacon and egg day? I think I'm going for sausageeggandcheese on a mini sub roll. Tonight, I'm going to see Bev Grant as the Starving Artist Café, all of three blocks from here.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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