Jetlag and 20 Random Facts (for you relentless facebookers)

What time is it? My internal body clock has stopped. Not on the one that goes…”hey honey, lets make a baby!” or the one that says..”Don’t you think it’s time to settle down?” but the one that tells me to wake up at 8am every morning and then lets me go back to sleep ’til 11. I usually fly from California, back to the East coast, and then back to the UK. That makes it a lot easier. This year it was the hardcore 10 hour flight from San Francisco over the Canadian wilderness. The real clock says it’s 3:47am, and I just ate some crisps and a larabar. Hellooo breakfast.

Random Facts
I’ve been getting all these requests for random facts about myself on facebook. Why am I acquiescing and doing your bidding? Cause I’m jet lagged and don’t yet have the brain capacity to do some real work. I could barely spell acquiescing. Hell, I could barely spell barely. Continue reading “Jetlag and 20 Random Facts (for you relentless facebookers)”

A Life in Music. Fame, Fortune, or Fancy?

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[I started this a couple of weeks ago…and since then Steve has written a couple of blogs with his take on the same issues….Is he stealing from me?? I don’t know. But after watching Hedwig last night I think I’m going to have to keep a closer eye on him. ;)]

The musicians life is a hard one. Not only because most people regard creative fields as a hobby rather than a real life job, but also because of our willingness to do everything speculatively in hope that something will eventually come of it. Steve told me once that “we’re our own worst enemies because we love what we do” and that is so true. Now I can hear someone out there now saying…”stop complaining….you may not get paid much but at least you love your job!” Yes, and the age-old saying that you can’t live on love alone certainly applies here.

For many of us, there is no school that can teach what we do. Our work is a mixture of years of real world study, fleeting emotions, tragedy, and hope. Every note we write a piece of history saved from the ashes of charred memories. Every song a blanket woven from future hopes and past disappointments. Yet we are seen as children, refusing to grow up and get a career.

This is never so apparent as when you are managing your own career. You’re expected to have a middle-man of sorts in order to be taken seriously. If you don’t have a label, a manager, a publicist, and a booking agent…then you are obviously an amateur. I get so frustrated constantly explaining to people that I have no desire to be famous. I want to write, I want to perform, I want to connect. I also want to be paid fairly to do these things…but I don’t need a private plane and millions to be happy. I’m happy with train fare and a few thousand extra in the bank.

So as a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with 20+ years of experience, why is it that people still expect me to do my job for free? I’m not talking about recorded music here, I’m talking about playing shows and festivals that are patronised by thousands of people.

While I don’t think that anyone has a right to a living just because they are a talented musician…I also don’t think that people have the right to deprive me of a living just because we’ve created a culture that feels that we shouldn’t have to pay for music. The inequity that exists in the world of music is part of the problem here; the whole rock-star dream. Much like the American dream….it’ll just cause you to live aspirationally rather than practically and that can be a dangerous pitfall.

The problem comes when I voice this to others. Unless this person is a seasoned musician…these words will cause me to lose credibility. How can I say that I have no desire for fame and fortune? Isn’t that the reason that one becomes a musician in the first place? To avoid studying medicine, or the law? To avoid being part of the establishment?

Deciding to be a musician is not a quest of avoidance…but a labour of love. There are quite a few assumptions that we need to get over…

1. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone knew who you were?
No, this would suck. How would you ever live a normal life? Imagine having video chat open ALL THE TIME. Think you have lots of people in your life now who like to tell you how to live? Imagine having hundreds of thousands of those, even millions. Nice.

2. It’d be cool to be treated like a rock star all the time.
Again, your record label is happy to spend YOUR MONEY treating you like a rock star and other people will be willing to do the same because they think fame is some magical dust that will rub off on them. Once you’re out of money and hit songs it’s back to being NORMAL. Additionally, being treated like a star doesn’t make you a better musician…as a matter of fact I’d imagine it has the opposite effect.

3. Doing a huge tour across the world is fun.
No, it’s really not. Ask anyone who has done it. Grass roots tours with people you like are much more fun because you’re hanging with friends and leaving more time for exploration and doing it on your own terms. You don’t need to answer to anyone and your schedule is your own.

I don’t have answers for all the problems that exist in our lives as musicians. I do know that I’m beyond happy that I am able to do what I love for a living…but, until we change our thinking about what it means to be a musician I can’t see our lives getting any easier. But I suppose as Al Bernstein once said…“Easy doesn’t do it.”

Why Not Tase Myself a Little Before Breakfast? Here’s Why…(Repost from 2004)

I was reading through old posts this morning and thought this one was worth rerevisiting.  Met al. 😉

This was posted anonymously on “A la Gauche: Political News and Commentary from the Far Left” (which you should read)

Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that it couldn’t be all that bad with only two AAA batteries, etc., etc. There I sat in my recliner, my cat Gracie looking on intently (trusting little soul), reading the directions (that would be me, not Gracie) and thinking that I really needed to try this thing out on a flesh and blood target. I must admit I thought about zapping Gracie for a fraction of a second and thought better of it. She is such a sweet kitty, after all. But, if I was going to give this thing to Toni to protect herself against a mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as advertised.

Am I wrong? Was I wrong to think that? Seemed reasonable to me at the time.

So, there I sat in a pair of shorts and a tank top with my reading glasses perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one hand, Tazer in another. The directions said that a one-second burst would shock and disorient your assailant a two-second burst was supposed to cause muscle spasms and a loss of bodily control a three-second burst would purportedly make your assailant flop on the ground like a fish out of water. All the while I’m looking at this little device (measuring about 5″ long, less than 3/4 inch in circumference, pretty cute really, and loaded with two itsy, bitsy triple-a batteries) thinking to myself, “no friggin’ way!”

Friggin’ way – trust me, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

What happened next is almost beyond description, but I’ll do my best. Those of you who know me well have got a pretty good idea of what followed. I’m sitting there alone, Gracie looking on with her head cocked to one side as to say, “don’t do it buddy,” reasoning that a one-second burst from such a tiny lil’ ole thing couldn’t hurt all that bad (sound, rational thinking under the circumstances, wouldn’t you agree?). I decided to give myself a one-second burst just for the hell of it. (Note: You know, a bad decision is like hindsight-always twenty-twenty. It is so obvious that it was a bad decision after the fact, even though it seemed so right at the time. Don’t ya hate that?)

I touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and HOLY DAAAAAMMMMN!!! I’m pretty sure that Jessie Ventura ran in through the front door, picked me up out of that recliner, then body slammed me on the carpet over and over again. I vaguely recall waking up on my side in the fetal position, nipples on fire, testicles nowhere to be found, soaking wet, with my left arm tucked under my body in the oddest position.

Gracie was standing over me making meowing sounds I had never heard before, licking my face, undoubtedly thinking to herself, “do it again, do it again!” (Note: If you ever feel compelled to mug yourself with a Tazer, one note of caution. There is no such thing as a one-second burst when you zap yourself. You’re not going to let go of that thing until it is dislodged from your hand by a violent thrashing about on the floor. Then, if you’re lucky, you won’t dislodge one of the prongs

1/4″ deep in your thigh like yours truly.) SON-OF-A-BITCH that hurt!

A minute or so later (I can’t be sure, as time was a relative thing at this point), I collected my wits (what little I had left), sat up and surveyed the landscape. My reading glasses were on the mantel of the fireplace. How did they get there??? My triceps, right thigh and both titties were still twitching. My face felt like it had been shot up with Novocain, as my bottom lip weighed 88 lbs. give or take an ounce or two, I’m pretty sure. By the way, has anyone seen my testicles? I think they ran away. I’m offering a reward.