Birthday Thoughts

Today I am 45 years old.

Fuck. Trying to wrap my head around that actually feels a bit odd. I’ve never been overly affected by the anniversary of my birth. 21 was kind of a big deal, and so was 30 – I remember feeling more like and adult, and I actually quit smoking that year. But, why does 45 seem any different than 44 did?

Maybe it’s because of my circumstances. I like to think that I am capable of assessing my life with at least some objectivity and detachment. I am currently unemployed, and have never had a “real” job that fulfilled me on any level. In fact, nearly every job has been an exercise in misery, particularly during the last 10 years or so. Have I done anything to change that?

Actually, I have. I obtained a general Associate’s degree with a focus in communications in October of last year, and am in pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree in communications. The goal is to get a job writing and/or editing copy, or perhaps something in journalism. I may even write a book. Basically, something that pays reasonably well that does not feel like a slow, tortuous death for eight hours a day.

But, even that is a distant second to what I want to do, and if you’re on this page, you know that involves music. Specifically, making a living playing my music. The best I’ve done while trying to do that full time was…well, not good. Have I done anything to try and change that?

Not for some time. I came to the conclusion that, for whatever reason, my stuff does not appeal to enough people for me to make a reasonable income. The choice then became to either try to write stuff that had more appeal, or simply keep doing what feels right to me. Because art and music are so personal, I opted for the latter, while honing my skills. It hasn’t gotten me anywhere, but the idea of ascending to some level of popularity by riding the wings of a song I wrote that I actually hate makes me feel ill. But, I recognize that as a “me problem.”

A number of people have suggested that I mix a healthy does of cover songs into my repertoire. I always balked at that because whenever I have played lots of covers, I always wound up hating it. I felt like I may as well have been working a crappy office job, and we’ve covered how that feels. So, what’s to be done?

I have largely given up on playing live, with a few exceptions. I am considering changing that. I’d like to try an all-acoustic cover band that revamps cover tunes; I’ve discussed that within this site on a previous post. I have yet to find anyone who followed through once interest has been expressed, and I don’t know why. Maybe I just suck; maybe it’s a bad idea, or maybe there are other factors I haven’t considered. But, I think it could work, and it’s something I’d like to try.

I could also go on with my solo acoustic stuff, and do arrangements of cover tunes in such a way that doesn’t feel contrived or uninspired. Maybe I will; I’m still mulling that over, partly because I find that I may be reconsidering my role as a musician.

To me, music is more than entertainment. It’s an emotional experience that cannot properly be expressed with mere words. But, that doesn’t mean everyone shares that feeling. Maybe I should just embrace the idea that ultimately, when I’m on a stage, I’m there to entertain whoever happens to be listening/watching, and that I should do whatever is necessary (within reason) to provide an entertaining experience. That does not mean that I’m going to play the same version of “Freebird” that has been hashed out by a million bar bands. But, what about an interpretation that involves a harmonica, fiddle, banjo, and/or a mandolin? To me, that could be cool, and there are bands out there doing things like that. Hayseed Dixie comes to mind, but they are not the only ones, and I’m not about to bluegrassify everything I play. Yeah, I really think that could work. If only I could find the right people who share that feeling.

But, let’s change gears on this for a moment. What have I accomplished in my life?

Well, while there hasn’t been any real financial success, I really love a lot of my songs. Not all of them, of course, but “Heaven Ain’t That Grand” is awesome on many levels. I think a lot of my stuff is, but I don’t see the point in listing a lot of titles here. Art is always subjective.

What else have I done?

Well, I seem to make my wife happy. That’s pretty solid.

Anything else?

Umm…beginning level aikido? For about…uh…13 years or so? Granted, I relocated away from my dojo, but I have seriously neglected my practice, including stuff I should be doing on my own. But, the few tools I have in my box have been very helpful on plenty of levels.

And, yeah. That’s pretty much it. I can’t decide if I’m selling myself short, or even if that’s a really short list. What else is there to do that’s really important? I have no desire to have children. Ever. So, that’s out. Career wise…well, I’ve covered that, but why should a career define my life?

If I’m going to be completely honest with myself, the truth is that I do not have many interests that truly stimulate me. Yes, I watch movies and some TV, I have a couple of video games that I like, I am fascinated by what is and isn’t true with regard to history and so-called conspiracy theories, but at the end of the day, there is my wife, music, and everything else. While I plan to go on to get my degree and use it to find a decent job, it’s a backup plan to what I want to do; what my gut tells me I should be – need to be – doing.

And, the sad truth is I’ve allowed my failures to take away my drive.

I suppose it’s natural. How many times does one have to run into a brick wall before deciding that maybe that’s not such a good idea? Of course, maybe I should find an actual door, or go around the wall, or whatever. I don’t really want to keep using this fucking metaphor. You get my point.

So, again, what’s to be done?

In terms of original material, I’ve decided the next batch of songs will be instrumental. I’m taking a compositional approach, and so far, it’s interesting. I’m nowhere close to done, and I’m not going to put any kind of deadline on it, but I certainly hope to have something done before the end of next year.

In terms of playing live, I’d really like to get that band project going. If not, I may pursue solo gigs again, though once I find a job, time will become an issue.

In short, I will keep on keepin’ on. Preferably without banging into that same damn wall.

Oh, and one more thing. I’m fucking fat. I need to change that. I have before, but it never sticks. That just needs to change. Diet and exercise, I know. Just fucking do it, Lorenz, and quit fucking talking about it.

Y’all be good.

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