In Defense of Musicians

by SaskMusic

August 4, 2009 in Humour/Commentary

Something I felt the need to share...maybe it will strike a chord with you too...

"Musicians are egocentric, self centred, and single minded."

Yes, some are. I can only speak from my own experience as to why I think I'm focused on music, namely as a form of escape. I have never felt abandoned by it, because some way that was the only thing that I could hold on to as a hope, a dream, something to put all my energy towards.

Many of us discovered music when we were children. Whether or not we are natural born performers (or if there is even such a thing), the fantasy of being on a stage surrounded by thousands of adoring fans is a captivating one. In fact, "rock star" is one of the top 10 dream jobs of America (according to A & E, who noted perks such as worldwide adulation, riches, travel and creativity).

I have always heard songs in my head and to ignore them would be going against my very nature. So, when I seemed to have a knack for music, I pursued it with a fervour that I never thought would lead anywhere. However, the dream I chose is not based on skill or desire, but on the luck of the draw. Since I am not a lucky person, it seemed that this would never happen. There are no certain steps to follow that will lead to success in this business. No matter how hard you work or how hard you want it, there are no guarantees. Nevertheless, once the seed was planted it could not be shaken.

I believe most musicians (while having different motivations to get to this stage) feel the same end result. The erection of something that comes out of thing air, from your own mind, and must be translated into another language to be heard correctly, is an ultimate satisfaction. When there are so many critics and obstacles against you, you seek out others who feel as passionately as you do, and form a precarious support system. You resent every negative comment against your music, which is only natural, because you have bared your soul and all your shortcomings in it, hoping that someone will pick up something from the vulnerability and feel an empathy with your song. Even with the occasional praise that trickles your way you constantly feel unprotected against someone thinking your feelings are silly, not expressed well, not catchy enough.

Who in their right mind would choose a career that has absolutely no guarantees, even if you pour your heart and soul into it? You constantly have to reassure yourself that your music is valid and worthy, because most of the time, no one else will. But despite that, how are you supposed to turn to a "conventional" career and turn your back on all the dreams that float in your head 24 hours a day?

There are very fragile egos at work. People may call us eccentric, and so we are. I cannot fathom what it must be like to have a 9 to 5 job, 2.5 kids and a dog, never reaching for the most unattainable dream, never stretching their creative minds and casually going from day to endless day with the same mundane, commonplace goals. I consider myself a bigger person for trying, for being willing to sacrifice what little security I have for my dream, for wanting more than the standard offering in the face of denial and the threat of humiliation. I feel I have earned the right to call myself "a musician," finally am able to capture the songs in my head with words and have others translate them into music that Joe Q. Public can understand, something that can move people to joy or tears, brighten a day, provide another point of view, change a mind, create a moment. I could give it up today, but my life would forever be filled with regret and shame for giving up, not seeing it through to its farthest point, for settling. For better or worse, in spite of risks and for the joy, I AM a musician.

By Lorena Kelly for SaskMusic. Originally published June 2000.

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