…Everyone would do it.
That’s become my favorite thing to say about this whole music thing.
If you didn’t have to haul all your own equipment for everyone else to use and not thank you for; if you didn’t have to juggle egos of two-bit talents who couldn’t be bothered to lift a fucking finger to help you in return; if you didn’t have to endure criticism from some asshole you literally just met 30 seconds ago, completely demeaning the style of music you play without having even heard you warm up, and then justify it by saying that he’s “an old rocker” in his stupid pleat-front shorts, long white socks, dress shoes and fishing hat, except he’s a close-personal-friend to the event coordinator so you can’t tell him to fuck off; if you could rely on people to keep their word or even give a shred of a fuck about you and the work they have asked you to do purely for their benefit, and without which they would be lodged way the hell up shit creek; if you knew you’d be properly compensated without having to draw up a contract, which you didn’t even think you needed to do because you thought this person “got it” and would really be on the level with you because, after all, we artists suffer together; if you didn’t have to show up to a gig with no power in place, no proper stage set up, and no one around who has the slightest fucking clue about how to help you out; if you didn’t have to drive through insane event traffic to go buy the simple beverages you were promised and then try like hell to find a parking place even half as close as the one you vacated, the one that you got because you bothered to show up at the the time you committed to, like, oh I don’t know, a professional; if you didn’t have to play to crowds of folks who just walk by without so much as a glance; if you didn’t have to get on the road so early after an awesome show the night before in order to run PA in 104 degree heat; if you didn’t have to try to look sexy in said heat, with sweat undoing in five minutes what took half an hour to do, while you fight to maintain some dignity as you set up and later breakdown 700 pounds of PA equipment while you’re wearing a mini dress and the stage smile that has to stay in place because you are, after all, a professional; if you didn’t have to play so late that the kitchen’s closed when you’re done, as is every restaurant and grocery store within reasonable driving distance, after you just physically exhausted yourself for five hours; if you didn’t have to haul all of the equipment back into the house at 2 am after you’re exhausted both physically and emotionally; if you got paid what they said you’d get paid; if you knew that 90% of it wasn’t the most physically and emotionally exhausting thing you could possibly commit to, and not really all that fun, well then, I guess everyone would do it.
But in the face of exhaustion, it’s vital to remember that the rewarding parts far outweigh the negatives. Like meeting the one-in-a-million folks and couples who love what we do. Like getting to travel so much more often and see so much more than the average person. Like making a roomful of people dance for hours on end. Like creating something that I’ve bonded with my family so well over. Like running into folks you haven’t seen in ten years and letting them get to see this side of you. Like getting to express the most complicated, soul-baring emotions in a way that is infectious and beautiful, side-by-side with the person you love most in the whole world. Like having the best seat in the house as you watch the crowd from stage. Like knowing, at the end of the day, that through writing, and constantly beating down this wall, you’re creating something that will outlast all the synthetic priorities of society.
But you have to have the emotional maturity and mental discipline to be able to recognize those highs in the face of all the difficulty. Because it will tear you apart if you let it.
I’m glad it’s not easy. Because I have an inside view of something special, something most people will never really know. Something so beautiful and unique to those of us willing to endure it.