I always advise people to do what scares them.  I don’t always take my own advice.  I’m calling myself out publicly today so that I do.


My wife tells me that I express my desire to do something and then come up with a million reasons why I can’t do it.  I have a burning desire to perform, and I talk myself out of it a lot.  I’m reassessing that now.


I’ve written over 200 songs.  Some of them I wrote for the bands I was in, and I performed them with those bands.  The other songs I have allowed to remain unheard in my file cabinet, or hidden on my website for a few intrepid fans.


I want to play my songs out.  I am afraid.  I’m afraid of forgetting the words, forgetting the music, finding out that nobody really cares about the songs, finding out they’re not good enough, finding out they are good enough and now I have too much attention, now the expectations are higher, now there are no more excuses.


This month I received my usual February e-mail from the RPM Challenge.  This is a group that asks people to write 10 songs or 35 minutes of music in the month of February and release it as an album.  Instead of saying “No,” I said “Yes.”


I did this once before, ten years ago.  I threw a party one week to teach 10 songs, and I threw another part the next week to perform and record them. This was the result: www.acole.net/files/Best_of__Both__Worlds.mp3 


I have never performed any of those songs since.  Why the hell not?  I don’t know.


I have convinced myself that my desire to perform is a kind of weakness or flaw.  That I’m just looking to escape my actual reality, looking to present myself in a controlled environment, looking to boost my ego.  And that may be true.


But lately I’ve been thinking maybe there’s something else that’s a positive.  Maybe the only way to fill some of the emptiness I always feel inside is to connect with people through a performance.  Maybe the reason I’ve never been able to fill it is because that’s where I have to do it.


I don’t know.  The only way to find out is to go for it.  So here’s my first step.


I’m going to perform this album of songs at least once, somewhere not at my house, with a couple of other musicians.  I’ll advertise, I’ll rehearse, and I’ll perform.  I don’t know what the experience will be like.


I have to answer the question:  Why am I not out there all the time playing songs I think are great?  Maybe I’ll find out this way.  



News From a Jazz Musician Who Writes Books

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Darcy February 18, 2019 @08:08 pm

This post really speaks to me. I have been profoundly burned out from the past two months of my job. The repertoire has been physically grueling, unfamiliar, and mentally difficult. I found myself asking if I was really still up for this job. But my job isn't always this way, and even if it was, I need to adjust my mindset so I am less anxious and more able to accept that I'm not perfect. Oddly my playing becomes much easier (and better) when I can remind myself that I don't have to be everything to everyone, that all I have to do is play one measure at a time. That's it. Thank you for writing this.

Suzanne February 18, 2019 @07:08 am

Let me know when you’re performing, Adam. I’d love to come if I’m able. I’ve battled those performance and song writing fears my whole life. Kudos to you for getting back out there.

Dave February 18, 2019 @06:52 am

Im not out there playing my material for mostly practical reasons. The equation between the music venue owner and composer musician makes little sense for the latter. An honorarium at best to provide thoughtful, live entertainment well into the evening. That includes the load in, sound check, performance and load out. Couple that with the load in and load out at the home of your gear and you are looking at 6 to 8 hours of labor and transportation at a net loss. I dont have many 6 to 8 hour chunks to operate at a loss at this stage. On the venue side. How does an owner/manager pay his own bills with the paltry support for original live music? If both parties are operating at a loss, how do we songwriters overcome this? Especially when original content is considered free on any device. Not that this dilemma prevents me from continuing to produce content. I just dont have to haul myself and my gear to a bar at 10pm to do it.

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