Sitting here, in a hotel in downtown Minneapolis (I won't say which one but two trees are involved), I can't help but feel overwhelmed by the blessings I've been given in my life. Here is a smart-assed, half-white, half-Native American, poor, depressed, borderline-alcoholic kid with Asperger's from Horicon, WI, population 3000, who was born with craniosynostosis, who has recorded and released two albums and played shows/traveled to every corner of this great country (current President and potential SCOTUS nominee, notwithstanding relative to the "great" part... Don't get me started... Thank you for not getting me started), and has now seen France as well, who has somehow married a beautiful, hard-working and brilliant woman, and is the proud owner of a cat. Who would have guessed? I'm probably not even halfway done and it's already been a BEAUTIFUL RIDE. At 16, I honestly thought there was a good chance I'd work at the factory making Harley Davidson parts for the next 30 years like some of the guys there. It was good work. Those were tough, long days but the work was mostly mindless. I got to dream about things like the Packers winning multiple Super Bowls with Brett Favre and then Aaron Rodgers, about the Brewers somehow besting the Cardinals and finally winning a World Series, about HOW BEAUTIFUL AND TALENTED CHARLIZE THERON IS, about where we were going to get drunk on Saturday night; all the good things in life...
But, then I decided to pursue my one true love: music. And things got much more complicated. I wish I wanted to be something more practical like, say, an accountant. For that, you go to college, then take CPA classes, pass some certifications/tests and BOOM, you're an accountant. Or, say, a welder. Again, you go take classes, pass some certifications/tests and BOOM, you're a welder. But there aren't any classes to become a successful musician. There's no established plan or path to follow. Everything you do is based on your gut and the hope that you're not wasting your time/money/energy/soul/youth/etc. Every decision feels like the exact right thing and the exact wrong thing. Every musical choice, every email or phone call, every show, every setlist, every recording, every t-shirt design, every press photo, every promoter you hire and even every blogpost. It's all the best and the worst thing. It's all worthwhile and a complete waste of time.
So many people say the same thing when they find out I'm a musician (someday, I'll be famous enough to where they won't have to ask...): "my (insert: cousin, nephew, niece, brother, sister, best friend, neighbor) is a musician too." And when they find my albums on iTunes or Spotify, it's: "my (insert: cousin, nephew, niece, brother, sister, best friend, neighbor) has an album too. Isn't it great how easy it is to make one these days? I've heard it's really cheap and easy to make an album now. How much did your's cost?" The answer is always shocking...
"All in? $25-30K. Which doesn't cover all the costs probably but that's a good ballpark, I guess."
My musician friends and I talk about this topic incessantly. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we put all of our time/money/energy/soul into something that will maybe break even or possibly lose money? Because of the single strongest human motivator, and the single worst thing ever (see, that damn theme again. Maybe it's just my "I GO TO EXTREMES" Asperger brain, but seems like this is just the fucking deal): hope.
I have a line in a new, unreleased as of yet, song: "We used to be so full of hope, but it only weighed us down..."
Hope is strong enough to make us do anything, against, or maybe because of, our better judgement. It's the most powerful thing a person can have. It can also be the most destructive. I've nearly died twice because of it and the terrible hurt it can bring. But, I'm also still alive because of it. My life has a (thoroughly destructive) purpose because of it. It's why I can get through all the meaningless bullshit everyday and still have the wonderful night when I pick up a guitar. It's why more nights than I should admit I drink myself to sleep trying to numb the hurt of all my broken and failed hopes. But it's also why I get up and do it all again each day. Some nights I wish I would lose all hope so I could get on with my life, but what kind of life would that be? What would it look like? What would I do? Watch baseball and drink beer all day? Would be fun for a while, but what about after that? Sure, the Brewers are in the NLDS and the Cardinals can't knock us out this time, but even the World Series only takes you through October. Then what?
Seems like a terrible cycle. Hope leads to excitement, which leads to disappointment, which leads to sadness, which leads back to hope. What's a boy to do? Sometimes it all comes together, like in the song "Lookin' at Luckey" and my new music video:
But sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it goes horribly wrong. Then what? Hope. It'll probably lead to sadness, again, but what if it doesn't? What if this time is the one where everything goes right? What if the right song hits the right ears and the right things happen? Maybe, it could... And that's the poison...
(Sorry, it's too late to proof read this. Accept it as is...)