Mars is near….

An odd weekend…some folks believe the stars and planets give you signs…if that’s true I probably need a new career/hobby.

On Saturday 8/27…Mars was the closest it’s been to Earth in like 2000 some years. On Saturday my van Vanna broke down between Des Moines and Kansas City gigs. When we broke down…a partially crippled white dog came from nowhere and hung out with us. We were cornfields middle of nowhere. The gigs were taped by guys that upload “obscure” music to a government archival site for posterity….and Lord knows I’m obscure.

Not sure what to think of all these odd happenings… but had lots of down time thinking about the indie music biz and my 37 year old place in it. Music for me is now kind of like when Dorothy and Toto saw Oz behind the curtain. No awe or mystery left in how things work. Here are some random thoughts on things required to be successfull in music/art these days. Just from my increasingly silly and jaded perspective of course.

1. Ambition/Ego - and lots of it! All other points are of lesser value than this one. I’m no different…at some point we have a need/compulsion to bring our thang out of the basement and try and sell it to you. That takes thinking quite a lot of yourself. Otherwise we would just play for our kids/friends or keep pickin’ on the porch without the commerce or sales element. Don’t be fooled by false humble, fake hillbilly or faux authenticity…anyone you have ever heard of who has a CD for sale has this overstimulated ambition/ego thing going on. There are no exceptions on this point…sorry. You can disagree…but you’ll be wrong. See there? That was my ego coming out…down boy. Bad dog..

Too late…oh well…so if I have to hear one more folky/old timey revivalist tell me I can’t plug in my acoustic guitar to have an “authentic” country sound I’m going to go postal. Like I would even want that anyway. Hmmm…if it sounds old, it must be better right? This thinking is just too narow. No kidding…postal…my pet peeve if you will. Okay…onward without digression…

2. Work ethic - yes, music is a tough gig. You have to work constantly and with great focus and drive to feed point #1 above. A kind of all-consuming tunnel vision drive.

3. Luck - yes, music is still basically just a big crap shoot. You gotta get a break at some crucial point. A national radio audience, famous/connected relative, a shot on Conan/Letterman, tapped by famous producer, killer business partner…yadda yaddda yadda…the list goes on and on…but you still need luck for success.

4. Talent - important, but probably the least important point. You’ve heard what’s on the radio right?(down boy) When it’s go time… for a long lasting career… you gotta deliver the goods….but how many times have you felt swindled after biting on the radio single? Or maybe it’s the suspicious model-like video elements that we have kinda gotten numbed out by. I wonder how the Stones would do as an up and coming young band today?

This is a fun rant and I’m the first to admit my guilt on most of these points too. Not sure how many or how much of the above I possesse…but I don’t wanna die penniless like those “obscure” artists the Lomax brothers archived straight to wax so many years ago.

So…In that spirit…I’m cleaning house…I got music stuff I’m selling on ebay right now. Give me a shout if you have any interest in a cool lime green American Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. I also have a ‘59 Fender Bassmann amp, some misc pedals….and probably a ‘91 Ford Econoline van soon.

You know you’re in trouble when you’re life is starting to resemble a Greg Brown song (who probably has all the above points in spades).

‘My friend Jim just broke up the band, the guys all had jobs and the nights got too long. He’s selling the amps, one guitar, and the van. I’m sure you could have it all for a song…’

“Spring and What’s Left”
- Greg Brown

Journal Archive