A few months ago a friend and I had a conversation about local bands. We both had agreed that in local music scenes there is an implicit rule that you don’t go out of your way to talk bad about another band. A local (or regional, or even national) scene can have a coddling effect on bands that are liked, but not necessarily loved. It can stifle them and keep them from growing. His response “someone should tell them to just stop.”
My thought was that he was talking about me, whether that was actually what he meant or not. I’ve played in bands for six or seven years, none of which has really stretched beyond my city. Which is not to say that’s bad, but it means I’m not under any illusion about my abilities. Any show I’ve booked is mostly my friends who showed up plus whoever happened to be in the bar. I’ve had two different shows where there was only one person in the whole place. This doesn’t mean I deserve anyone’s pity. It’s only to provide some perspective of where I am in the world.
I write songs. I post them sometimes. If you’re the obsessive kind, you are now able to check your play stats every minute if you want to, and that can be a dangerous tool if no one’s listening. In that conversation a few months ago, my reaction was not “someone should just tell them no” but that if someone’s not right for playing music, the silence will let them know.
I suppose maybe that’s where I am. No one’s entitled to be heard. No one’s entitled to be acclaimed. Very few of us are the geniuses we dream we are.
But I love to play music. I love to write songs. And that’s a strong love. The trick is not letting that love curdle into bitterness because you never got what’s coming to you. Every town’s open mics are littered with the tragic souls of people who still believe they deserve to be recognized for something. It’s a wearying environment that sullies the enjoyment of the music itself. Music rewards the hard-working more than it does the hubristic.
I suppose this is basically just a “where do I fit into the world of music” post. But I want it to not be about me. I want it to be profound. And that’s the first pitfall, just wanting something to be great rather than working to make that thing great…