What I want people to get from my music

I like it when people like my stuff, of course. But in the end, I don’t want you to just like my stuff.

I want you to go make your own stuff.

I want my music to prompt you to go buy that trumpet or keyboard, and to tell those dream-crushers who say things like, “You’ll never be any good anyway, you’re too old/poor/the wrong kind of person,” to go fuck themselves.

I want you to go dig up that thumb drive in the pocket of the coat you haven’t worn in two years, the one with the abandoned novel on it, and get that novel going again. Then, I want you to submit it or self-publish, and the second you do, you need to start the next one.

I want you to take that cooking class, and tell the person who laughs at you and says, “Look who thinks they’re the Iron Chef!” to piss right the hell off.

I want you to stop by the hobby store on the way home from work today and buy a couple tubes of acrylic paint and some blank canvases and just have at it.

And I don’t want you to stop. I don’t want you to listen to the little voices (internal or external) that tell you that it won’t matter, you aren’t any good, and no one will care what you have to say anyway. I want you to make a first meal/novel/painting/piece of music that stinks on ice, and then I want you to make another one that stinks less. And another, and another … until you step back and go, “Hey, that one was pretty good.”

I want you to spend the next twenty years doing this because, I have news for you, those twenty years are going to go by anyway so you might as well fill them up with something you enjoy and spend the time getting better at it.

I want you to do it no matter who tells you that you can’t. I want you to ignore the voices in your head and in other people’s mouths, the beliefs in culture at large, that tell you that you’ll never be any good, and that people like you don’t have anything worth saying or listening to anyway.

I want you to … well, okay, I guess I don’t want you to take people who smirk cutely at the idea that the wrong sort of people could possibly relate to or make worthwhile art and punch them in the face or shove the scroll of his cello up his ass. You’ll get in trouble. But at least shaking your fist at them menacingly and then telling them to drop dead won’t get you arrested. Chopping them out of your life is even better, because even the fist-shaking and drop-dead-telling wastes mental and physical energy that you could better spend pursuing your goals.

Anyhow, I want you to realize that even a non-conservatory schmuck who grew up in a financially struggling family, who started playing at the born-on-the-scrap-heap age of 10, who can’t afford a house and who has a digital piano (shock! horror! “Why I just can’t advise anyone to do that!“), and who works a very demanding 50-60 hour/week non-musical day job, can still make art.

You can even still make art in the most high-falutin’ art arenas. Classical music? Well, you have to start at the age of 6 months and play an $85,000 instrument, or else you’re worthless!

Fuck your “worthless.”

You have to be in a real gallery to be a real painter!

Bullshit.

You’re never going to be a real novelist. Who do you think you are, John Steinbeck?

No, I think I’m ME. And ME has some stories to tell.

Ooooh, so you think you’re Wolfgang Puck now!

We all have to feed ourselves, and damn it, I’m going to do it well.

Go make your art. Start now.

That’s what I want you to do after listening to my music. Liking my stuff isn’t the endpoint I’m after. If I haven’t motivated you to make your own art, my art has failed.

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