I had a drawer full of paper scraps with song snippets scribbled on them, lines that I thought might make good lyrics, song concepts, etc. I had super cheesy recordings of me humming and beat boxing melodies and chord progressions on a voice recorder. I had a bunch of 40% – 90% completed songs recorded on my hard drive. I’d get pretty far along in recording a tune and then I’d start the next one.
Finishing is just so flipping scary.
If I were a painter, I’d probably have a bunch of canvases sitting around in a basement studio with cloths over them. If a friend who knows I love to paint came by, I could pull back the sheet and show one of my works in progress. He’d probably be supportive and say how it will be great when it’s done. Or he might ask for more clarification if he doesn’t quite catch the vision. Either way, he would suspend judgment because it isn’t finished yet. Whew. The artist’s ego is spared.
If one dares to actually finish a painting, it’s a different story. If the artist frames it, that’s the next huge step of commitment. If the artist hangs it on a wall, the stakes are disturbingly high since the artist is now identifying him or herself to a work that lives outside of them.
Wrangling song concepts and snippets together to publish a complete album is a bit like having lively, energetic sons. You never know what they’re going to stir up nor where, but your good name is permanently fixed to them from here on out, good or bad.
No longer do people reserve judgment.
When you publish or put your art out there, no matter what medium, you are saying, “This is done. This was my idea and here it is. This is the best I can do.” Everybody with eyes, ears, nose, taste buds, or whatever your medium calls to attention will almost instantly have an opinion on it. That’s scary stuff.
I’m much more appreciative of live music that I don’t really care for. No matter how much that band is rocking out on stage, I know there is a very alive part in each musician that is wondering if people can’t stand them or their work. There’s a voice inside telling them to cut the current song short by yelling, “Fire!” then running off the stage, taking only what they can carry. If only they’d already been paid for the gig, they might. I don’t care how confident-looking or accomplished an artist is, that stuff is real and strong.
Way before an artist even has a chance to receive public criticism, they have overcome enormous obstacles and I take my hat off to that. I’ll open my heart, mind, and wallet to honor those conquests.
But it’s not over yet.