Monday, April 07, 2008

Being a musician Gift or Curse?

I've been a musician since I was 5 years old. My parents were nightclub owners so It was a natural fit for the kids.

One of the greatest parts of being a musician is that it gives you direction in life. Plato wrote: " The unexamined life is not worth living." I interpret that as "The life lived without a passion is no life at all". Music is my passion. From the time I get up in the morning (singing in the shower) to the time I go to bed, rehearsing in the studio, music is constantly on my mind. I would go so far as to say that Music is more important to me than money.

Part of Life's challenge is trying to find a passion. Mark Twain wrote: "If you do what you love for a living; you'll never have to work a day in your life". I can't tell you how true this is. When I was recording my 3 albums, the creation of the album was more important than eating or even sleeping. I've never been at my day job and not wanted to leave.

On the other hand, making it in music is not like making it as a doctor or attorney. I really wish you could go to college and major in music then find a community that needed a guitarist and open up an office. It just doesn't work that way. And unfortunately, it's one of the FEW occupations that requires LUCK more than skill or education. Youth and looks also help.

Sure there are varied levels of musical occupaions for the musician. Everything from the wedding singer to the next big thing. But at some point the passion drives a great musician past the point of playing bars and bahmitzvahs to creating his own sound and leaving a legacy. One of the 4 basic needs in life is to leave a legacy. We need to Live, Love, Learn and Leave a Legacy.

In my life, I've seen the music industry go from signing bands that just performed in the same key with no social meaning whatsoever to seeing true legends like Eddie Van Halen and Chuck Berry go without a contract.

The curse aspect of being a truly talented musician is that the Industry no longer is looking for great talent. The truth is, it never did. Talent had very little to do with the making of a rock star. It has always been about the marketability of the artist.

A great example would be the grunge movement in 1990. Between 1988 and 1990 bands like Motly Crue and Poisen were singing really decadent songs about being irresponsible and having fun. Songs like Girls,Girls,Girls and Good Time were safely making money for the music industry. Then something up in Seattle swept in and "slew" all the "hair bands" overnight. Kurt Cobain was singing about stuff that really pissed him off and Pearl Jam was singing about suicide. Kids had something that they really could Identify with as every 15 year old boy was not driving Tawny Catayne around in a Ferrari, or Corvette or whatever.

The Industry sent it's A&R reps up to Seattle and signed any coffee strung out band that sounded like Nirvanah over night. THEN every band on sunset strip started playing Angst filled songs and thus we had Stone Temple Pilots. The first L.A. based grunge band to try to dress and sound like a Seattle band.

Soon New York picked up on the Grunge movement and Supermodels started walking down the runways wearing ragged jeans and plaid wool shirts. The Irony was that Eddie Vetter wore plaid because he bought his shirts at the goodwill.

You see, it was never about how talented Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vetter was, it was about their "Gimmick" called grunge.

So what the hell is a musician suppose to do? Try and create the next new wave?

I've been waiting for David Bowie to call. I'm sure he'll call soon.

If he doesn't, Hell, I might just start playing rockabilly. Ricky Nelson said it best when he said "You can't please everyone so you got to please your self".


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