Here's a question---"How
many songwriter's in the world have always received the benefit of having
total support and encouragement of their family and friends?"...
Surprisingly enough--the answer is unfortunately not too many that
I have met (including myself as a writer (and as a Music Publisher)..And
many famous writers and artists have openly stated in interviews that
their parents never accepted or realized WHAT THEY DO or what
they're really about. And even after having monstrous success-
some even still recount the lack of support and encouragement they faced
at home during all their years of uphill struggle to stardom...Writer
Paul Simon once shared his communication problems with his father in a
TV interview and even said it took too many years and was almost too late-
for his own dad to finally acknowledge his talent and his dreams.
Why is it that our families seem sometimes to be unable to understand
the dreams and desires we have in our music career's (or what we ARE really
about)? Many times they criticize our choices (and what our life's career
should have been in their eyes).
Funny, BUT, no matter how you explain Songwriting (or being a Music Publisher)
to your family and friends- (mostly they just can't grasp the cold hard
reality of our devotion to a dream that has major hardship, pitfalls,
expenses, rejection and total sacrifice-- (that other occupational choices
may never even come close to facing )....They think--why WOULD YOU CHOOSE
THIS IF ITS SUCH A GAMBLE ? And there used to be a time that I even thought:
"WELL I'LL SHOW THEM SOMEDAY !.. .But even when that day came
(and I was filled with the pride of hearing my song on the radio,and then
my song in that movie)....Guess what --they still didn't understand what
the big deal was...Kinda anticlimactic I must say but then again I came
to realize that there was a lesson to be learned here somewhere...And
later on as more success came,I no longer looked to them for their approval
or validation. It took many years to realize that WHAT we do-and why we
do it --IS FOR OURSELVES and our own sense of self fulfillment in achieving
the dream and that big inner sense of accomplishment that comes with it".
So for many years it was really hard to try NOT to talk about songwriting
or Music Publishing with my family every time we got together. Before
reaching that point--I would talk about it obsessively (so Im honest!)...
But then later -- nobody really asked me -I'd find myself silencing my
enthusiasm for things that they couldn't comprehend (and also found myself
having to be a normal person who could make normal conversation round
the dinner table)..Like the rest of the family--(zzzz)...
IT. Music-eze -- the language of demos and rewrites and pitches
and ideas and deals and on and on.It's sorta like its own language --it
really is..It's kinda like 'jamming' even... But then the problem
arises where thats all you wanna talk about.Even with your mate it becomes
a constant thing.And pretty soon you start to lose your 'balance'
..The balance between keeping your personal life and your business/creative
life separate....(What a concept!).You have a life --but you dont have
time for one...
And then soon you start to come home WITH "IT" --BUT you can't
turn it off..It just keeps playing in your head..Thats when we become
pretty impossible for others to understand...Words people say start to
become lyrics (and your guitar may start to hold more excitement than
making love).Either way--you don't see anything around you--but get real
insular on this (obsession ---shall we call it?)
It's gotten so bad sometimes you could hardly stand to be at a music awards
show--'cause your hearts breaking over the winners (and you find yourself
comparing your own new song to it when no one's looking). Sounds ridiculous
but it's truer than you'd admit. Many stars have admitted it...The way
they recount it early on in their careers is almost like an OBE (out of
body experience)--And I saw myself up there thanking everyone (I
ever knew).. .But back to reality...Back to that rewrite and the
next demo your planning to cut--(and YOU also promised YOU'D try to give
IT a break on the weekend and enjoy your private life and relax)... Promised
One of the things that I learned (in this business-and unfortunately the
hard way)--is that it's really important to keep your perspective in life
about life.What I'm saying IS--the thing that IS really important in life
is LIVING IT FIRST .. And when you find yourself song, demo or band obsessed
24 hours a day --you need to stop and reevaluate things. Stop and 'smell
the roses'--or at least STOP writing about them and look around at all
you have ..(Or the success train is bound to run your ass down before
you even GET on it)...Writers and Artist's who do the crash and burn for
a deal -(and subsequently affect their home lives with their neglect of
normal reality and daily routine), companionship, rest, fun and relaxation
(and nutrition) will soon find they are bereft of comfort...When
I say comfort I mean inner contentment..(And--when you are on a constant
intense creative quest for success and totally committted to winning,
alot in life can go on and go by ---without you).. You have heard the
story told about the idle rich and how money can't really buy happiness..Well
it can't buy a life either.. So the point is--if you've had one--(before
you became a songwriter/artist-industry person)--be sure you still honor
it NOW (and those who love you)...
Those who stand patiently for your spontaneous outbursts of energy and
whirlwinds of creative output into the wee hours.And those who really
support your dream and make it easier for you to do your thing and also
enjoy your life --while you work hard to achieve your goal....
Remember always that in order to be a creative soul you need to have soul
sustenance ....You need to be able to draw from your own life somehow
internally --and live it to really write about -and sing about it...Try
to practice holistic songwriting--(The whole person)--is
well balanced and happy in their life and so creates from that joy.(The
whole person also experiences real pain and so creates from their pain
too ,sometimes) ....It's part of the natural process of
gaining wisdom and knowledge.But its the life experience...We should not
resist the universe as it too---has a plan hidden in our own destiny's
written page.Embrace it and it will nurture you.Listen to it when it speaks
to you...By osmosis it will help you find your own inner voice too.
Your experience of life IS very much like a canvas that awaits your input...So
be sure to stop and draw from your life --(and TRY TO LIVE it as happily
as you can). It makes for a more well rounded creative person. too ..Take
time for everything, look inside and you'll find there IS more to YOU
--(than just your dream)..If you do this--I have found that-Your writing
and your music will grow - as you do..
Finding and keeping the balance between your songwriter/artist and business
life--- and the PERSON THERE INSIDE YOU AT HOME ---is a very important
If you're really NOT happy (within yourself)--now--your hard earned success
-(when it finally comes)---will never change that, anyway..
Try to value each moment --as life is very precious. Decide inside
yourself who and what is really important to you in the whole scheme of
things, and try to- measure and balance it all out --and you'll find that
you'll appreciate and 'survive'-- the whole creative and business
process of it --- alot more easily..
*Authors Postscript: It's kinda strange where ideas for some of
my columns come from -(but something kept telling me that this was what
I wanted to say to all aspiring writers and artists,and industry peers).This
is what I feel (Dec 1997) --that might need to be said -(in order to help
others see the light that things in life change so constantly and we
should not get so caught up with the journey----as to not enjoy the trip...
Ps..In reviewing this -- (as I get ready to send it on to Li'l Hank and
to the internet audience at large)-----I suddenly realized that some of
the personal principles that I've shared here---CAN AND DO also apply
to most everyone's life... ...(A happy personally
successful 1998 to everyone). .Peace!