Raw Talent, Raw Charisma, Touched by the Gods

I have not given the music industry as much as I should have.  I was the guy who would come over, borrow about a hundred of your vinyl record albums (for the kids, think big, black CDs) and then spend hours listening and copying the songs to my crappy tapes.  Hiss, pop, a little music, a grinding sound, more hissing, more popping.

I never really felt guilty for stealing music.  I should have.  But I figured I paid for it with the hiss, pop, and grind.  And I did buy new cassettes of Rush and Jethro Tull, my two favorite bands in the world.

Now, what I do to atone for my sins is buy local music and see small bands, or bands that do not have solid gold limousines.  If you have a day job, I will support you.  If you don’t, I’ll do my best to be honest, but I can’t promise anything.  I would imagine most people are like me.

But I am trying to make up for things.  Catholic guilt.  Right here.

So I see a lot of bands, mostly I pick by random, and a lot of them are good.  They are fine.  No big whoop.

But every so often, I am astounded, and what is the difference?  I wish I could say.  As the French would utter, they have that je ne sais quoi, that stage presence, that glowing gift from the muses.

Photo by Sean Desmond

For example, I went to see Cambo and the Life in San Francisco last year.  Like their Facebook. Love them.  Love Cambo.  So I hit the doors of the show, and I meet a smallish guy in bright red clothes, and he’s nice, and we chat.  Like I said, no big whoop.  The first act comes up.  Oh, rats, I have to go completely into the Cambo show.  I will in another blog post, I promise.

So the opening acts come on in, and they are fine, enjoyable, and then there’s not intermission, while people do a lot of gear stuff on stage.  Roadie stuff.  Like Tom Hanks in the SNL sketch, sibilance, sibilance.
Then, Cambo and the Life.  Cambo strolls onto the stage, and suddenly, I am transfixed.  And the beat hits, the music swells like an old man on blue pills, and I take notice.  I am grabbed.  I am in a presence bigger than the room, bigger than the music, bigger.  More.
Charisma.  Power.  Glory.  Something ineffable.  A presence.

I had the same experience at Fitz and the Tantrums. Facebook them here. Feel the love.  When Michael “Fitz” Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs came out, I was glued to the floor.  Who are they?  What mysterious power do they have?  What the hell is happening?

I think I might know what it is.  It is a deep, internal commitment to what they are doing.  This is not something they are doing lightly.  This is who they are, they are committed to their vision, and they have grabbed onto their work with everything they have.  And they are brave, fearless, in that commitment.  They are risking everything.

Which is probably why there are so many alcoholics and addicts tied to the arts.  Because deep down there is doubt, fear, despair.  And to send out that fearlessness either takes a lot of God or a lot of chemicals, but not always.  I’d like to think some people are blessed, by whatever, to have that fearlessness of spirit.  Pure, lovely creativity.

I’m not a musician.  But I play one on T.V.  Kidding.  Stop it.

I’m a writer.  And in the end, I must commit fully to my books, to my frakking wordy, purple-y prose, and to my broken characters and shattered stories.  If I don’t, I won’t get anywhere.  Nope.  Nowhere.  I’ll be fine.  I’ll be okay.  But I won’t be touched by the gods.

Bottom line: if someone doesn’t absolutely hate my writing, I’m not doing something I need to be doing.  Always go for too much, that’s my motto.  Commit.  Be fearless.
And damn all the critics.  In the end, we’ll all be dead and for 99% of us, even the current bestsellers, our novels will be Navajo sandpaintings.  Countless hours of work, blown to nothing. 

Reach for the impossible. 

Do the impossible.

Be the impossible.