Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Working the Dream, part 2

Here's the thing: if you don't ever try, you'll never know.

That's the thinking that has moved us to Nashville. And it's true. It's bugged me for 20 years, even longer if you count: starting to write songs when I was five, pretending I was a singer at seven, recording on my crappy tape recorder when I was 10, learning guitar at 12, etc. I've really wanted to do music all my life.

We've had a pretty craptastic couple of weeks, hounded with cars breaking down, minor annoyances and money concerns. It makes you doubt. No surprise there. But there was something that gave me hope: my first writer's night in Nashville.

If you don't know, writer's nights are pretty self-explanatory. A bunch of songwriters get to play two of their original songs at a bar. There were at least 30 there the night we went, and so there were 60 songs. I heard at least 5 John Mayers, 10 Brad Paisleys, 3 Miranda Lamberts and what had to be an undercover nun. Seriously. And although I was surprised at the ability of those who played (decent players and singers), I was also surprised in a different way: the songs weren't very good.

I decided to listen not in comparison to my songs, but good songs I've heard in the last year. So, I'm not saying I was better or worse. I am saying that the songs were neither good nor bad. They just seemed to exist. Nothing stood out, nothing had a great hook (although I'd heard one great title), and nothing stuck with me. As a music fan (not a musician or writer) I finally gained some empathy for all those A&R guys who listen to song after song. It's no wonder some of the music people I've met here don't take CD's. Any CD's.

When you do things like this, you wonder, "is this me?" "Am I not critiquing myself the way I'm critiquing them?". And I really have no idea. I have no idea, objectively, whether or not I should have moved to take a chance on carving out some niche in the music industry. I do know, however, that if I find out that I'm just not good enough, at least I found that out. Because the not knowing over the next 20-30 years of my life would have been rough. I've waited a long time to find out.

That, and I do think my songs are good enough, or else I wouldn't be here in the first place.

We've had some crazy coincidences this week, too. Nothing I care to detail, but head scratching kind of stuff, which makes me wonder what God thinks of what His people do: is His concern for their passions and gifts secondary to simply loving Him and others? Yeah, I'd say so. But even if it's secondary, is it worthwhile figuring it out anyway? Or are you just wasting Kingdom time? How does your happiness or contentment factor into your serving Him? I've answered those questions in different ways over my years in ministry when other people asked them.

Well, I'm still giving it a shot. Not throwing in the proverbial towel yet. But how long do I give it? How long before I give up on what I think I was made to do? Stay tuned...