I have been grappling with the idea of “success” lately. It’s a funny thing with me. In some ways I want it and yet, as look back over time I have clearly thwarted it. I don’t think I realized it when I was doing it but I know now that I have kept it at arms distance. I think, especially when it comes to music, that “success” can be seen as the enemy. Many songs have been written about it in specific. To the “artist” and often their fans as well, it can be seen as selling out. I know growing up, the people (my brothers) whose musical tastes I looked up to, often gave me the impression that this was in fact true. Some of this, I’m sure, was born out of our secret competition, to try and wow each other with our new musical finds. If we found them first, because they weren’t “too popular” to be unavoidable, we win! Mind you, in, my case, the “win” was never acknowledged. Often times, months later they would play something for me……”hey, I played that for you months ago” I would say. No recognition…. and I was left frustrated. Still happens from time to time but it has gotten better. Perhaps they are getting soft….at least one of them….but I digress..
I have really been grappling with this idea of being successful these last few weeks. I want so much to bring this project to light. That, in one way, would be successful. I myself want to be impressed by the quality of the recording and production, yet another level of success. I want to be able to sell it when it is finished and be able to have some financial success which is a multi layered beast in itself. It would be lovely to break even and dare I think I could see it as a new source of income? Am I really allowed to make money off my heart and soul? Does that somehow lessen the integrity of the songs? Then of course there is the fear that arises in thinking about what lengths I would have to of to sell it on that level. How much to I need to think about image? If I don’t “look” hip or beautiful will people who don’t know me want to support me.
This brings me to some specific fears. I am a slightly overweight, gray haired mother of four. For years I have dyed my hair but have recently begun thinking that perhaps it is my constant fighting against that which is natural, that keeps me in turmoil. I have a very overly critical voice in my head and I am trying to silence it but letting my hair go gray? Will that do the trick? Will people listen to an old lady like me? Will the crowd who is still going to shows and buying CD’s even give me the time of day? More importantly, will my brothers think any of it is any good and will they still like it? Let’s face it, that’s where this all started anyway.
In the end, as all things usually end, I know the truth. The truth is, that if I feel good about myself and tell the truth, it will resonate with people. I believe it is that truth that allows us to listen to so many types of music and relate to it all. We human creatures respond to that which arrives wrapped in authenticity. If, as artists, we speak our truth, people can find themselves in what ever we create, whether it is music, poetry, film etc. I love to hear actors and actresses who have to portray despicable characters, talk about having to find something in that character that they can relate to in order to play someone and make it “believable”. It is so in all art, it must be believable and relateable.
It brings me back to this question…..am I really fooling anyone by dyeing my hair? Does it come across as someone struggling to hold onto something or be something they are not? Does it really matter? At this point I think it is about letting go of the fear of judgement at a time when I am really putting myself out there, in some sense, to be judged. As you can see, I am like the child at the edge of the pool thinking about diving in for the first time….head first. You have probably watched this before. Somewhere in the back of their minds they know it will be so liberating but the what ifs keep them stuck there on the side. I will keep you posted on whether or not they actually take the plunge!