A Tip O’ The Hat – December 30th, 2003
by Bing Futch
Been busy, these past several weeks. Some random thoughts as we end 2003….
I must confess that this is highly, rudely sensitive
As I peek out from the underhanging will to live
And I care not whether you’ll find love or purpose lost
By virtue of these breaths, I will embrace the cost
My dead flesh rubbed against you and you screamed delight
Then I misspoke pleasures credited and saw you disappear into the night
I cry no sanctity and wonder why you turned and granted fled
Again I try and fail you, and the effort is now dead
And now the flesh, it lives, it breathes
And it knows the give and take
How much more before I break?
I must carry this intent
Now the flesh, it lives, and learns
And my heart, it’s filled with burns and scars
That bind — know what I find?
That each and every one of us is scared
And that each and every one is unprepared
For the slight that sheds its light upon the hill
No wonder that we pray, and always will
Who’s Getting Old?
Age is merely a marking of the time that you’ve been present on the planet. Time is just a loosey-goosey attempt to synchronize ourselves with the universe. Einstein postulated that time actually curves around the spaces that surround stars and other large objects and that at great velocities, time is extended. Explains why Mick Jagger is still prancing all over the stage at 60. Time waits for no man, unless you’re wearing something sharp and getting down in a groovy way, then it seems that you live a little longer in general. But face it, bands like the Rolling Stones are Rock ‘N’ Roll royalty, and most of us still breaking the profit-making mark with our music are never going to attain that sort of status. Frankly, a Buddy Dyer-sized paycheck would be satisfactory for my own vision of good livin’, but let’s not be provincial, hey?
There comes a significant point in every musical life where the decision’s made to either “go for it” or to “puss out” in regards to an actual career. Making music is work, real labor, just like any kind of industry and it’s sold and packaged just like the products that line the shelves of stores around the world. Either your music’s good enough for the store or you’re gonna need a back-up plan to pay the rent that is due on your locked-in life. Now let’s be realistic, like any job situation there are levels to which you can aspire, based on your experience and particular talents. Not everyone applying for CEO can be expected to even make it past the elevators in the lobby and if you’re planning on becoming the next superstar, chances are that you may have to lower the bar a bit and hope for a house gig somewhere that the beer is cold and the pickin’s are plenty. On the other hand, if you figure on climbing Everest with one hand, using the other one to fret mightily, then God speed to you and we’ll be listening for that first shareholder’s meeting, you upwardly mobile machine, you.
Assuming that it’s music you want to do for the rest of your life, you ought to consider the fall-back plan, there’s nothing wrong with providing a net for your high-wire act. In California, many musicians find satisfying “day-jobs” working as video game composers or sound engineers, scoring wicked amounts of cash to fortify their dreams of better tonal real estate. A well-funded act is an act with an edge, right? And let’s say that you’re making serious coin, stupid money, working in a way that allows you to be creative, but you’re still not working full time on your own independent ambitions; it’s a cheat. Without 100% of your effort, and the effort of everyone involved with your project, the boat’s not gonna float. The plane’s doomed from the runway. At some point, the switch has got to flip from “hobby” to “career”. Enough with the thin white bread that you’re getting paid out from the door every week, forget about playing to apathetic scenesters. Hit the fucking road and plant seeds far from where you live, start the process, pay the piper, take the lashings, burn the rubber, go the distance, reap the benefits, pay the piper, score the touchdown, feel the music, suffer the breakdown, witness the meltdown, travel the avenida, you got to go whole hog, laddies and gentlewomen, there is no other safe way to do it. And you gotta do it when you’ve still got the juice and keep it working full-throttle or time’s gonna sneak up on you and put a stop to all of that perpetual motion nonsense.
Even Dick Clark isn’t fast enough for time. It has a way of catching up to you. The young kids, true turks, twenty-something invincibles with the aura of immortality, stage-diving into the great unknown with every performance. Will you be doing the same schtick at fifty? Laugh at the old farts now, you’ll be an old fart sooner than you think. Hopefully, you’ll have positioned yourself well.
It’s a job, it’s a job, it’s a full-time fucking job. Especially now that the world has changed in such a way that you truly can do-it-yourself. Back in the day, if one dreamt of becoming a recording artist, you had to go through a record label to do it. Now, of course, all it takes is a computer, a shitload of great software and your brand, er band. You have to create the product through songwriting and rehearsals, market the product via website and promotional tools, package the product by producing a recording and placing said product for sale in the consumer market. Clinical and cynical? Maybe. But ain’t it the truth? Yes, yes, oh most certainly yes. Welcome to the New Market, all ye purveyors of pulse, O makers of music! Set up your storefronts and unfurl your stage banners, enlist the aid of a street team and supply your MP3’s across the great, wide internet. Seeds planted by shooting them into pneumatic pipes of propaganda, spilling out across the land and sprouting up here and there, taking hold once in a while, growing into the bedrooms and automobiles and Personal Music Stations, the people respond to your brand, they start to catch on. You figured you were better than Gold material, probably Platinum or Double Platinum and in time, maybe you’re proved to be right.
And maybe you fall so short of the mark that it’s clear; “day-job” is to be your middle name, placed upon your name tage, inscribed deeply into your grave marker. Oh well, that’s life, isn’t it?
When you stop giving it your all, well — that’s when time makes its move. According to the general theory of relativity, loss of energy means loss of time and space. Time depends on the amount of energy and the space of a wave. That translates to “keep your ass movin'” and don’t let dust settle on you, friend. Because you can only work at Pirate’s Dinner Theater for so long. Because waiting tables may be great for money, it’s bad for an artist’s ego. Because working in music stores and watching other people, nay, helping other people buy all of the gear that you lust after is no way to moonlight. We all want to be full-time rockers. That’s it, no supplemental income required. Many are called, but few will rise and the rest are left to make due with what’s left. So you might be a blue-collar band, one that never quite gets the Vanhool tour bus, but at least tours, albeit in fragil fashion aboard a 1984 Ford Econoline. So you may not end up on VH-1, but you’ve managed to at least get paid for your gigs. It’s a start, right?
I believe that in this New Market, there’s room for every group, at least the ones with actual, documented talent, to succeed and attain a nice slice of the pie, a snag in the purse of our world economy. For all of the hard work that’s put into a musical act, it should be rewarded with fair effort because without music, the world would stink. As Mick would sing, “time is on my side”, but seeing as how that line fell from a particular horse’s mouth, I’d bet against that proposition and haul ass before time gets a leg up on you. Then, you’ll find yourself working a full-time job that you hate and tossing brewski’s around with a bunch of your middle-aged buds, playing Weekend Warrior Rock Star for the neighborhood. Feh, to die a noble death on-stage tis grander than the alternative. May time grant you a running start and a hearty chase.
A Special Message From Somebody
Now, I can’t take credit for the following, but it’s worth noting that the author is known as “anonymous”:
1–YOU WILL RECEIVE A BODY
You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for the entire period
2–YOU WILL LEARN LESSONS
You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called life. Each day in
this school you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant and stupid.
3–THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, ONLY LESSONS
Growth is a process of trial and error, experimentation. The “Failed”
experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that
4–A LESSON IS REPEATED UNTIL LEARNED
A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have
learned it. When you have learned it, you can then go on to the next
5–LEARNING LESSONS DOES NOT END
There is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. If you are
alive, there are lessons to be learned.
6–“THERE” IS NO BETTER THAN “HERE”
When your “There” has become a “Here”, you will simply obtain another “There” that will, again, look better than “Here”.
7–OTHERS ARE MERELY MIRRORS OF YOU
You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it
reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.
8–WHAT YOU MAKE OF YOUR LIFE IS UP TO YOU
You have all the tools and resources you need. What you do with them is up to you. The choice is yours.
9–YOUR ANSWERS LIE INSIDE YOU
The answers to life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is
look, listen, have faith and trust God.
10–YOU WILL FORGET ALL THIS
Unless you consistently stay focused on the goals you have set for
yourself, everything you’ve just read won’t mean a thing.
A group of people are sitting at a table eating. They notice someone from the other table looking at them. “We have a spotting,” says one and they sort of glance at one another. The other person slowly recognizes one of the people and begins to walk over to the table. They take a deep breath and reach in their jacket. Two of the men at the table reach under the table for their guns. The young man pulls out an autograph book and a pen and asks for an autograph. Michael Lucerne complies and the young man begins to run on about how he can’t believe that he’s standing in the same breathing space as Michael Lucerne, a rather embarrassing (for him) display of drooling fandom. The restaurant owners are looking nervously at one another and waiting for a signal to yank the guy, but Lucerne signs the book, hands it back to the lad and says, “hey — relax, I’m honored and humbled by your love.” He reaches out and shakes the guys hand. We cut to a shot of the same man screaming “I AM A GOD!”. They are obviously two very different sides of the same person.
As we all are.
It’s been a year of threats and triumphs over that which would threaten us. Of SARS and crazy new Ebola flu, of sickening governmental largess and the residual victories of war, namely Saddam’s capture. We lost the stock market and gained some points back in hope – saw more celebrities accused and lifted up in the media spotlight, felt the aftershocks of devastation around the world through natural disasters and the acts of a many and a few. A dying Pope, the hope of a child found alive amidst the rubble of Bam’s earthquake. Mad Cow in our land, the greatest movie trilogy the world has ever known; unemployment rides the rollercoaster and our greatest enemy is revealed to be not terrorism, but spam. Time is what we strive to maintain control of, and yet it increasingly darts out of sight, out of reach in a life spun out of control, still controlled, however, by the flashing screens and distractions of our 21st century reality. And this is why this column has not been updated for some time. Life finds a way….to get in the way.
I offer up a blessing to all of you for this new upcoming year – to make your time count and to find the time to be what you want to be. You’ll hear more from me not too long from now, but don’t hold your breath. In the meantime, enjoy the time, and time and time again the time will come to talk of other things.
And the day is not too far off when the pigs will have wings. And it will be doubly difficult to avoid them in traffic when you’ve got a ticket coming. The day is not far, but it certainly is wide.
Happy New Year cousins – and may all your dreams come true.