Thoughts on being an artist

I’ve always thought that artists are people who need a serenity prayer more than most.  I say this because I’ve seen artists beat themselves up, usually for things they can’t help.

I’m not a snob and I look for wisdom and inspiration where I can find it.  I really like what Danny “Roadkill” Thompson of Sloppy Seconds has to say at about the 1 minute mark.

I hope people don’t label us from what they hear, I want people to make up their own mind.  When we first started out, the first shows we did, I’ll admit we were kind of put off as a novelty act Bill (?) booked us and we heard through the grape vine that one of the reasons that he booked us at the Vogue for our first show ever was because he had to see a 500 pound guitar player on stage, that was the biggest thing he wanted to see, he couldn’t believe it.  And then, since that show we got others and we used to do some really wild things on stage, like B.A. would wear dresses a lot, and we’d destroy a lot of stuff, cause a lot of shit and make messes.  We were really cocky when we first started, cockier than we should have been I guess.  We thought fuck those other bands are no worse than, no better than we are, they’re just as bad as we are so what the fuck?

 I just want  people to make up their own minds.  We’ve become a good band.  We are a good band, and if you come and see us, you’re gonna like us.  You know, unless you’ve got an attitude problem, you’re gonna like us.

 I like everything about what he says here, because it accurately summarizes several important things for an artist.

one of the reasons that he booked us at the Vogue for our first show ever was because he had to see a 500 pound guitar player on stage

I don’t know Danny personally, so I don’t know how he feels deep inside about being a “500 pound guitar player” but stating it flat out here in a matter-of-fact way is perfect.  What do you say to that?  “Fuck you, I don’t like you cause you’re fat”?  I’ve always thought that personal acceptance is the most radical thing anyone can do in their personal life, because it frees you.  Which isn’t to say that we have to like everything about ourselves, I know I don’t, but when you can say “yeah, this is how it is” it means you don’t have to take every insult personally.

Because in the end, what does it matter?  I have an ex-girlfriend who used to say “what’s the big deal about someone saying you’re pretty?  It’s not like I did anything to have this face.”  I didn’t do anything for some of the gifts I have.  Genetics is just another word for dumb luck.  And in the same way, I didn’t do anything for some of my “faults.”

We were really cocky when we first started, cockier than we should have been I guess.  We thought fuck those other bands are no worse than, no better than we are, they’re just as bad as we are so what the fuck?

There’s a lot of ways to look at this.  You’ll never do anything if you don’t try is one.  I like to think of this as a restatement of my belief that everyone is special, but no one is that special.  Or maybe, only a few people are that special.  But even the most awesome people started off as lame imitators of the people who came before them.  So go for it.  What’s the worst that can happen?

And maybe someday you can get to where you can say this confidently, like Danny:

We’ve become a good band.  We are a good band, and if you come and see us, you’re gonna like us.  You know, unless you’ve got an attitude problem, you’re gonna like us.

Society insists on a lot of false modesty.  And I get it, having everyone running around thinking that they’re the best would get old.  But having to pretend that you’re not that good at something when it’s obvious that you are is stupid.  And if you’re a genius, you shouldn’t have to play that down.

….

In the end I guess no one really has an accurate assessment of their own talent, but we can try.  I’ve never personally been all that scared to try something.  (some of my former bandmates would suggest I’m not scared enough)  But every now and then I struggle with doubt about what I’m doing.  It’s part of the deal.  Just thought this was a nice way of putting it and wanted to share.

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2 comments

  1. I’ve said many of these same things but you put them together in a much more coherent form than I ever have. I’m not sure ANYONE ever achieves full self-acceptance. I’ve gotten to the point of accepting that there are things about me — physically and personally — I don’t like, will never like and am always surprised when other people don’t seem to mind. I think that much be what you mean about beating ourselves up. A great post. Highly perceptive.

    1. (I didn’t see this reply until today)

      Thanks, though I have to give most of the credit to Mr Thompson. Funny how you happens upon things like this. I agree, I don’t think anyone ever fully accepts themself. I don’t think I’ve ever been happy with my recorded voice, for instance. But you know, we try.

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