A Call For Collaboration

I'm still very new to this, to all of this. Writing, recording, studying music, studying business, etc. At times, it's very overwhelming, but there are moments when you realize that it's worth it (more on that in my next post). 

As an artist, I'm constantly playing the comparison game with musicians who seem to constantly have gigs, or seem to be making vast sums of money on album sales, or just seem to be doing everything right.

Well, I'm not that guy. I get discouraged when a venue won't call me back. And I'm elated when I'm able to book a gig. I'm super-excited when I find out that someone listened to my music, let alone decided to buy an album! But I've found that while we live in an "artist's market," and opportunities abound with the availability of music on the internet and anywhere else you can think of, people (artists included) are still very skeptical of musicians.

I suppose it's understandable. Musicians these days, myself from time to time, are like stereotypical used car salesmen. They're a little greasy, and more often than not, they want you to buy something you're not interested in, or something that looked good on the outside, but isn't that great on the inside. 

I think where we have gone wrong as musicians and done a disservice for the listener is that we've treated them like consumers, rather than collaborators. Music is universal. Music is a bond that can bring together, and I'm often guilty of thinking that music is something that I do for people, rather than with people. 

If someone enjoys a particular song lyrically or musically, that person has joined in the journey of what makes that song special. And as a result, there is an unspoken connection between musician and listener. Without that connection, the music might as well not exist. 

The Importance of Doing Nothing

I'm beginning to realize where the most productive parts of my day are found. Well, the most significant, anyway. And it's not really about time management, per se. Perhaps time maximization. Is that a thing? Well, in any case, I’m finding that the majority of my work is not done sitting at the computer, or with the guitar constantly in my hands, or sitting down at the piano and grinding it out (although each of these things is vitally important in its own right).

My best work seems to be done in silence, staring out the window, or sitting outside with a cup of tea or coffee or whatever and just reflecting. What I’m reflecting on is relatively inconsequential. It’s more about the time and the quiet. Sometimes I’m reflecting on a song topic. Sometimes I’m reflecting on whether or not a certain chord really works where I’ve placed it. Sometimes I’m wondering if the pizza I had last night was the best idea. Sometimes I’m reflecting on what it would be like to write a blog post about the importance of doing nothing.

Whatever it is, I look at this a little bit like prep work. Think like a carpenter. It’s not unlike the “measure twice, cut once” adage. Or, for the body shop that’s about to paint a car, remembering that more time is spent prepping the workshop and sanding down the car than is actually spent painting. Why? Because the more time spent in preparation, the faster (and higher quality) the work will be.

So, while you’re looking at your To Do list and stressing out about everything that’s not getting done while you read this post, take time to embrace the quiet. This isn’t a “stop and smell the roses” type of encouragement. This is a “stop what you’re doing and look out the window for 5 minutes.” What’s outside the window is not what’s most important. What’s important is the silence; the time spent in reflection. 

So go. Do nothing. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, you won’t regret it. And your To Do list will thank you for the break.

Fannie Mae

As you may or may not know, we went on the road this summer traveling around the deep(ish) South filming a documentary as we went (more on that here). In any case, one evening, while stopped at a WalMart in Jefferson, NC, Jarod (aka Perry Wigglesmith) came up with this really great, eery chord progression on the mandolin. 

Well, maybe it was the sound of the mandolin echoing in the mountains as dusk settled upon us, or maybe it was being so close the the roots of true bluegrass, but either way, this is the song that came out of it. I'll forewarn you all, this is definitely darker than anything I've ever written, (and makes me wonder what place deep within me a song like this comes from), but there you have it.