Will do desk job for food

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The Joy of Desk

What makes you a singer-songwriter? Or a painter? Or a writer, a sculptor, an actor or dancer? At what point can we say, as artists, this is what I am? When do we get the right to tell people that we are an artist? I’ve been pondering this question a lot lately, and I’d like to share my thoughts on it, if you’ll indulge me.

What prompted this train of thought was my starting a new job. Doesn’t matter what the job is, it’s the usual stuff for me (just a different desk, chair and computer that looks the same as my old ones). I’m sure you can insert your own mundane version in there. But my point was, I asked myself again, at what point can I stop needing to do this because I’ve ‘made it’ as an artist? When can I turn and smile ‘See ya suckers!’ as I head out the door to join the ranks of professionals? The answer, if you play the odds, is, most likely, ‘never’.

So how do I process this? Do I finally give in to reason and admit defeat? Give up on that dream for good and just get on with getting ‘a real life’? Just get used to answering the inevitable conversation opener ‘So, what do you do?’ with ‘I work for a fundraising company’?

No.

There’s another way to look at this. No office job is ever going to motivate me to get up in the morning and face the day with hope. It’s not going to help me with mental health issues, defeat my demons, lift my spirit, connect me with my soul and that of others’. It’s not going to move me, inspire me, regenerate me, heal me, excite me or stimulate me. I’m just not made that way.

But songwriting does.

To thine own self be honest.

So here’s how I see it. I am a songwriter. I don’t want to be one, I’m not trying to be one, I’m not hoping to one day be able to earn the right to call myself one. I am one, and I have been since the first time, at age 13, that I sat in my parent’s kitchen with my friend Marc and put some words to some chords. I’ve never stopped doing it, and I never will, because it’s not just what I am, it’s one of the things that defines who I am.

But I no longer see any romance in being a penniless artist struggling to eat in a dank bedsit. I want to enjoy life, to live and not just exist. The world does not owe me a living, I have to earn it. In the past music has provided this livelihood, and might do again in the future, but for now it doesn’t. So I work at something else, not to replace what I do as an artist, but to support it, finance it, keep me healthy and help me develop my craft. When I sit at my desk, I’m working on my art, because I’m doing the practical, mundane stuff that has to be done to make the magic happen.

So if you see me out and about and ask me what I do, I’ll tell you, ‘I’m a songwriter’. And it’ll be true.

Found Sounds

record-collection

You really can’t have too much music…

As I’ve mentioned before, songwriting grows out of a love of songs. And that never leaves you. One of the greatest pleasures I know is finding an artist I’ve never heard before whose music grabs me, moves me, inspires or excites me. I thought that, rather than witter on about myself again, I’d share with you some of my discoveries, a taste of the stuff I’m currently grooving to.

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The rules of engagement

pencil with bite marks

“What makes you think I’m stressed?”

I don’t know whether it’s the time of year, or the fact that I’m about to unleash my first release on an unsuspecting world, but lately I’ve been plagued with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. Am I really any good at this? Is anyone at all interested in what I have to say? Do I look fat in the promos?

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Lonely songwriter wltm music lover with gtim for fun, possible relationship

from panta.rei.it

Every artist needs an audience (or, in today’s parlance, followers)

This may be hard for some to get their heads around, but back in the day when I started this songwriting lark, computer programmes had to be loaded with a cassette tape, Tweets was the name of the band that did the Birdy Song, and a mobile phone was one with a particularly long lead. 

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Three chords and the Truth (or “Lose the jangly bits”)

Willie_Nelson_1978 by Craig Terlino from thegoodamericancollective.blogspot.com

The great Willie Nelson onstage in 1978 with his beloved Trigger

I know Willie Nelson was talking about Country music when he said this, but I think it’s a mantra we can all take on. Life is complicated enough, and like Lou Reed said – “One chord’s OK, two’s pushing it, three is jazz”. Back in the ’70’s punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue ran a page with the words “Here’s a chord, here’s two more – now go form a band”. Hundreds did, and a musical revolution was born.

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