I have been reading a book by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer called, Inspiration – Your Ultimate calling and I have been feeling the need to write about my ultimate calling. Music! But it’s taken me years to realize where in music was my calling. There are so many parts to this music machine that I could be a part of. When I first wanted to be a part of the music scene (oh, about 10 yrs old), my first thought was, “rock stardom.” I mean that was, I thought at the time, the epitimy of success in the music business. To express yourself in front of people and have those people moved by your moves. I spent years perfecting my “Mick Jagger” moves and my “Janis Joplin” cries to find out, much later, that being a performer didn’t even come close to the feeling of writing a song and that, performance (at least the kind you do in front of an audience), wasn’t my calling.
When I saw “The Who” in 1982, I realized I wanted to write songs like Pete Townshend. He wrote passionate songs that were dynamic and personal. And my tragic background was a perfect breeding ground for songs of sorrow and self-realizations. I did a lot of growing up through my songs. I find songwriting to be like having a personal therapist. If I don’t know what I am feeling, all I have to do is to write a song about it and… voila! – the answer appears. More than performing my songs, which have been thought of as too sad for the average person to enjoy, I love writing them. What am I to do? Cause I don’t feel like my songs are sad and hopeless, at all? In fact, I think that they are full of hope and self worth but perhaps not on the popular song scale.
I use to try to write songs for the masses but now I just write cause I want to. There are a lot of songwriters who write for themselves and yet they seem to do fine selling their personal traumas to the masses, but perhaps they are better at taking the blows of post performance blues, when an unknowingly club owner tells you that your songs are too sad and personal for his patriots to enjoy. I was fired once for that reason and that’s probably why I didn’t pursue a performance career.
But how can I really make anyone else interested in my therapy songs? And then I think to myself, if Pete Townshend, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell and a slew of other songwriters can write, self-degrading biographical seconds of their lives, than so can I. Most all of the songwriters that I know and love, write songs about themselves. That’s what makes their songs so uniquely dynamic and passionate. They don’t try to follow a format, but instead follow their music muse. Songs can be like a puzzle piece, placing each word and note in the right spot, so that all the pieces of the song come together. That’s the moment of magic and that moment means listening to your muse. This is where I feel I can help others.
And so it is my ultimate calling is to help others, like myself, to be OK with what they write. Every song is important to write because it is the piece of the puzzle that this world needs to be complete. I don’t want to hear another Bob Dylan or Adele. I want to hear the unique person who wants their voice to be heard. That’s when I felt I needed to write about the benefits of songwriting! In my world, songwriting is personal. Like praying or taking a bath. When I started writing my book, Change the World – Write Your Song! I felt a completeness that I thought I could only feel when writing a song, but then I realized that I also felt inspired and good when I helped someone else write their song and when I wrote a blog or was working on my book about music!
When I was going to school I felt I was learning all about my ultimate calling and that is music. So, now when songs don’t come together easily I can rely on music theory. I enjoyed going to school and learning about music, especially music history and theory, but musicianship was a nightmare.
How could this be? All I can think of is that, it’s an old performance anxiety thing. In musicianship, you have to be really confident in your listening ear and write out the notes you hear. Like in a performance you only get one chance to get it right. There is no time to think about what notes you are hearing and writing down. The difference between history, theory and musicianship is, history and theory are thought based and non-performance idioms of music. When musicianship is all about trusting your ear to recognize a note in seconds and to write it down. It’s like a show, if you goof up, you don’t get to go back and change it. Maybe it ‘s the perfectionist in me, but I prefer the studio. One day perhaps I can get over my performance anxieties, but for now I will do what I love to do the most and that is to write and teach.