“Let’s all open our ‘Reading is Fun’ books to page 69.”
I had to throw in the classic Billy Madison reference because I’m giggling like a child over this week’s number. 69 though? That’s...a lot.
I’ll take a second to revel in the innuendo and accomplishment.
Unfortunately though, my smirking is mostly subdued as I write this. To anyone who has ever experienced the excruciating frustration of waking up at the butt crack of dawn to drive to your metropolitan courthouse for a traffic arraignment, I now understand your pain. Yes, I’m sitting in a courtroom, awaiting the involuntary submission of my hard earned money to the State of California, all because I had the audacity to overlook a No Turn on Red sign. The dusty and overly brown courtroom tires my eyes, as I’m half-awake at a very Pino-unfriendly hour. Maybe if I close them and imagine that my charges stemmed from excessive rockstar antics that caused a 10-car pileup and a hefty urination stain on the Alamo, I’ll have more fun. But no, my traffic ticket is far less bada-s and noteworthy. I have yet to live up to Ozzy and Vince Neil-like legal status.
So with three or so hours on my hands, I have nothing else to do but reflect, which I suppose is a good thing because currently, I’m faced with a significant decision. Moving away from music news this week, I’d like to get a little personal (you know, talk about feelings and sh-t...).
I’ve been offered a job. A good one too. A real grown-a-s adult job with some pretty fine financial ornaments. I’d make way more money than I do now as a full-time freelance writer and the company is respectable and full of young, creative employees. It all sounds great as a whole, but the decision to take the job is more difficult because it requires relocation and a major change in lifestyle. Gone would be the days of waking up at 10 and doing my day’s work in my underwear, which may or may not be a bad thing depending on how you look at it. Plus, I’ll be saying ‘adios’ to Los Angeles for the time being.
The reason I want to talk about this now (and I may regret my full-on honesty) is because I’m sure a lot of people reading this have aspirations to be professional musicians or other artist types. And as musicians, we’re all too familiar with the stigma against taking on "real" jobs.
It makes sense though. In an ideal world, we’d make our living solely on music, regardless of how much money is thrown our way. We do it because we have to; we suffer for the art and our goal is to make music the primary focus in our lives.
Such was the case with me. In my younger years, when I first started playing guitar around 13, I dreamed of being center stage and rocking out my songs to millions of fans. I’d look at photos of Led Zeppelin, Metallica, even Nirvana, and think, “hey, that’s the job for me.” Look like a bada-s on stage, have people adore your music, make an impact in peoples’ lives? The idea sounded fantastic and pursuing it was a no brainer.
Then as I got older (within the past few years or so), I started to recognize the difficulties a career musician faces, and although years in the practice room and a unique exposure to many, many types of music rounded me as a musician, I discovered that writing was the art form I was more naturally adept at. Hence, I was able to craft a modest living writing about music, which is amazing.
Freelance writing is very similar to the musician life and the realities can be tough. You work gig by gig; work can speed up and slow down; people don’t pay you in a timely manner; there’s financial uncertainty; there’s competition; there will always be people out there who are more skilled and talented than you are; sometimes you stumble on brilliant luck; sometimes you strike out; there are highs; there are lows. It’s a unique lifestyle and the experiences gained are invaluable. But every now and then you wonder how long you want to continue the hustle.
Aging a bit has a strange way of shifting your priorities, and as you see more sh-t, you become wiser (if you’re positive) or jaded (if you’re cynical). As I graduated out of my early twenties, I started to see some of my insanely talented musician friends start to move onto different career paths as well, modifying their goals and take on professions still related to music, but not on the much desired performance route. That was a sobering moment – when you realize that even players who are extremely good still face the same career obstacles and you see that talent alone doesn’t guarantee greatness.
Acknowledging those difficulties (I mean, really, we live in a time where it’s extremely hard to make a decent living solely off music), you may find that music and guitar can certainly be an enhancement and incredible part of your life, but they may not be your life.
When you’re younger, hearing statements that fall out of line with the ideology of the music life makes you defensive. I know I was. I used to get in fights with my parents - "SCREW getting a 'real' job. I’m not doing it for the money. I'm doing it for the love of music." Maybe you've said something similar.
But the way I’m looking at the job opportunity is just that - an opportunity. Sure, I won’t be focusing on music and writing quite as much (and the new job would require me to wear pants at all times) but the job can grant me the freedom to pursue more creative endeavors. I could afford the luxury of purchasing equipment and software that I currently have a hard time affording. I can quit some writing gigs that suck the life out of me and focus on writing the book I’ve been slowly planning. I’ll be in a new city, able to check out the music scene and maybe fall into a music group or two. I’ll experience a different kind of lifestyle and see if it’s something I enjoy. It could be a cool new chapter, and with hope, it’d be cool to share it all with you.
The thing is, I’ll still be able to do this. You bet your a-s I’m still going to write this column every week. Out of all the writing gigs I have, many of which will fall to the wayside, I’ll definitely keep UG going because it is by far the best writing gig I’ve had. Plus you guys are awesome.
So this week, I’d like to hear your stories about your aspirations. Do you have those dreams of musical stardom? Do you treat music as a hobby and allow school or work to be a priority? Would you be content having a mix between music and career or are you going all in? I’m just curious if anyone else has the same feelings toward getting older and making life choices that fall away from the original plan.
It’s a strange, yet exciting time, and we’ll see what happens. Regardless, it’s 69 day and court is adjourned! Time to celebrate with some nudie magazines.
On The Next It's The End Of The Week As We Know It:
After allegedly having sexual relations with a ghost, the class act Ke$Ha writes a string of ballads lamenting how the ghost hasn’t called her back.
Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong further clears up the reasons behind his recent temper tantrum at the iHeartMusic Festival, stating that he was frustrated because he wasn’t able to save 15% on his car insurance.
I return to the LA courthouse on Monday after deciding to pull an Ozzy and p-ss on the Disney Concert Hall.