Chasing that Neon Rainbow
I've always been drawn to music. I have always loved it. I have always wanted to create it. Music has also been such a major form of frustration and disappointment to me as well. I would almost dare to say that my disappointment caused by pursuing music has almost been greater than the joy that it has brought me. But that is neither here nor there.
God has blessed me with the opportunity to play a few hundred shows over the past few years at music venues of varying degrees of repute throughout the Southeast and beyond. For this I am very grateful, but playing shows and touring has sometimes made me question why I am even involved in music in the first place. I initially fell in love with music as a child by listening to records by Alan Jackson (don't judge me). I remember going to an Alan Jackson concert as a 5-year-old kid wearing a custom-designed denim jacket. That jacket was so cool, it hand a picture of a wolf howling at a setting sun in the desert with cacti and other miscellaneous desert adornments. It was all painted by hand with that sparkly, Roseart puff paint. I'm attaching a photo of the infamous paint just for reference (I know you've all used it at some point).
All joking aside, I remember that concert. I remember how excited it made me feel. I remember how for weeks after this concert, my neighbor and I would dress up as country singers and I, with my denim jacket of fire, would pretend to be a famous country music singer. It was the only thing in the whole world that I wanted.
As I've grown older I have still maintained that feeling, and it's a selfish one for me to have sometimes. I have struggled with the mania of wanting to be "known" and the integrity of just writing good songs. Over the past few years I've written many songs and played a ton of shows just to continue to try and get my name out there and to show my face. Playing live is a ton of fun, especially when you have great friends like I do to play music with, but it is very heavy.
Constantly performing and writing just for the sake of having "material" for people to listen to and comment on will kill your soul.
I fall victim quite often to the internet zeitgeist hype machine zombie factory that is social media. I will find myself writing songs and faking lyrics just so I can record that song and put it online and see some comments and hits on it. That's ridiculous, but I also think that it is very reflective of the culture we live in today. We feed off of instant gratification, it is our drug. Because of this behavior I have found myself burned out with music altogether over the past few months.
Maybe you're like me and have found yourself in this same situation with your art, or with your job, or with your relationship etc. The best solution I have found to this artistic drag in my life has been to reevaluate what made me love music in the first place. I have spent a lot of time on Youtube lately just watching videos of bands I like performing live sessions of their songs in living rooms, cafes, green rooms, practice spaces, and so forth. What I've learned from watching these videos is that these bands are making and playing music for the sheer fact that they enjoy doing and are compelled to do so.
Some of these bands might not receive the "hits" and massive plays on their videos like the Justin Biebers of the world, but they are fine with that. They are just satisfied with making their art and exercising that creativity within themselves. I think that mindset is what is going to get me out of this funk, I also think that mindset will get you out of yours too. Don't worry if what you create at first isn't perfect, just keep working at it and have a good time with it. That's what art is for I believe.
My friend and band-mate, Bryan Segraves, wrote an excellent follow-up to this post of his own thoughts. You can check it out HERE.