While I'm more musically inspired than ever before in my life, my good friend Scott — a "real" musician — is not doing music because he doesn't have privacy. He says he doesn't feel comfortable really getting into it when he knows he's in earshot of his upstairs neighbors.
I know exactly what he was talking about: I really need my privacy to make art, too. Because every time you go to put down a brush stroke, or sing a note, you are taking a risk. It might work. It might not. It's part of the creative process. You can't have people listening in or looking over your shoulder.
That's why this month has been such a blessing, because I've been living in a practically empty house. If I want to play the guitar and sing stupid lyrics at the top of my lungs, I can.
When I look back on my childhood, I'm really glad that I had this luxury. Besides the fact that my parents were really encouraging of my creativity, my isolated circumstances really made a fine breeding ground for talent. With nobody around most of the time, I could really explore my creative side in total privacy.
My house was completely separated from all the neighbors, so — as weird as this sounds — no one could hear you scream. I remember how fun it was to play electric guitar as loud as I could stand it. To sing and shout and holler. To compose songs on the keyboard. Playing into the empty air, where nobody can feel judged.
On another topic:
Earlier tonight, we got talking about the artistic relevance of pop music. It was a pretty stale debate, but there were some interesting points made. I pointed out that in the early 20th century, music wasn't the sole domain of musical renaissance men, which is how it became in the 50s, 60s and definitely the 70s, where full-package musicians became prominent: wonderkids who could sing, write songs AND play their instruments like virtuosos. AND looked pretty on camera. Way back when, there was a song writer behind the scenes and a performer on stage. Nowadays, that's still the case, but even more so: there's a whole team of professionals that bring any given CD to market: marketers, advertising a producer, a song-writer, hired-gun studio musicians and singers. The person on the cover of the album isn't even a musician, really. They are just a pretty face. However, there's still the MYTH lingering from the 70's that a musician is all those things at once. It's like we want to believe in these god-like icons who have more talent in one finger than we ever could. AND they're young and cute to boot. Therefore we can worship them and make them into a commodity at the same time. All the while, —- insidiously -- we can absolve ourselves of any responsibility to explore our own talents because we know we can never be the full package: writer, producer, performer all at once.
In my case, I know damn well what my strengths and weaknesses are. And I'm not going to let my lack of ability in one area stop me from exploring my talents.
I know that I suck at playing instruments. I don't have chops. My fingers just aren't dexterous enough. And I don't have the patience to practice. (But, incidentally, there are many people who have this skill. And these people can be hired or contracted.) I'm not a great singer. I'm an OK singer, but I don't have a voice you'd go out of your way to listen to.
On the plus side, I can write. I have a sense of humor, a talent for poetry, rhyme, rhythm and melody. Not so much harmony, but melody. That's what I offer. And I'm satisfied with the idea that I don't have to be everything at once. I can write song shells and then have real musicians come and enhance my ideas. Collaboration is way more fun anyway.
I'm proud of the two songs I recorded today! (The first and last songs are the new ones.)