One member of my writing group is a guy named Rich – who writes an interesting, thought provoking blog that I follow here: New Day Rising
He commented on my last post with a challenge to write about what music means to me.
I have thought about this challenge since.
Initially, I thought I might write about my small blue plastic record player that I got when I was 13 years old that I listened over and over and over again to Meat Loaf: Bat out of Hell. This album, I purchased multiple times – twice in vinyl, twice in 8 track, three times on cassette, then 3 CD’s and the last of which I downloaded on my computer as an MP3. I sure wore old Meat Loaf out!
I thought too about writing about the multiple live shows I have seen. Friends and famous people and famous friends, I must have seen live music thousands of times in my life. Some are more memorable than others. Some musicians are really talented and it has been breathtaking to see them and others I have to hold my breath when they ask how I enjoyed the show because I needed a moment to search for something positive to say. I don’t always like what they play even if I like them, you understand?
I thought then I might write about the beautiful talented Joe Chithalen, who is one of Kingston’s most remembered and loved musicians owing to the fact that he was a magnificent talent who died suddenly, tragically and unexpectedly just as he was emerging to some level of fame. His legacy of music makes instruments available to the Kingston community in order so that the inspired can have access to tools, with nothing but ID with a local address. He was a really wonderful man in life and in death he is honoured by those who support the library which is set up in his memory.
But in the back of my mind, I was quite bugged by the request. It is not that I am annoyed with Rich but there is this niggling little bit of hurt that comes from the personal experience that I have with musician friends that I never have with other creatives.
Honestly, as a group they are just so obnoxiously self centred! As a whole they have a singleminded expectation that writers will write about them, painters will paint them, friends will support them, family will endorse them and that we will drag ourselves out to see them play, no matter how awful the weather or how much we dislike the sort of music that they love. Yet largely… they are absolutely non-reciprocal with other creatives. Rarely, if ever, have I witnessed musicians promoting other creatives work, unless it is music.
For many years I have pulled people to shows, endorsed musicians on my blogs and Facebook accounts. I have asked people to see them and invited them to buy their CD’s. I have written about them ad nauseum and donated to the causes that they are supporting. Too, I myself bought so many crappy CD’s that I can’t even begin to tell you. Yet, I have found that as a group (musicians that I know), do not post links to my writing, speak about my upcoming book, nor do they say something positive about my painting. In fact, of the dozens of musicians who I have reached out for in all these years, I have never seen them, not a single one of them, post a single link, even too self obsessed to press a share button to tell others about what I do.
I am not suggesting that I am as talented as Emily Carr or Lawren Harris, nor am I suggesting that what I write about is as brilliant as Douglas Coupland. I am also not suggesting that my words about life in a tiny house are as important as the news on CBC, be this a Russian meteor or whatever is going on in the world. I am not even suggesting that they have to have the same interests, share similar beliefs or even like my work. It is not necessary for me to have everyone like what I do and what I think. What I am suggesting is that musicians should remember that they are not the only artists whose work is meaningful to them and they should get off their collective self-obsessed asses and do something for someone else who is also struggling to have creative outcomes. Personally, I don’t think it would hurt them to hold their breath and say something nice. Frankly, it is my belief that we writers do this more frequently than I myself can personally attest to.
So… do I want to write about dedicating yourself to music? Do I wish to promote the one creative talent that almost certainly ensures that the person will become a self obsessed, smug and generally not very well rounded person?
Yes, I do! Please do something, anything creative, but I warn you, if you are deciding on music I am hoping that you took my criticism to heart. Please remember that the world does not revolve around you. Other creative people also need a little high five now and again, even if you have to grit your teeth together until you find something something positive to say.