Saturday, October 30, 2010

Drinking From a Firehose

No, not Mike Watt's force of musical nature. That would mean that I used "fIREHOSE" as a noun, which I did not. The title describes music on the internet, and music in Nashville.

I knew there would be a ton of musicians here. In fact, I'm surprised when I meet people who have moved here who are not musicians. That's one of the reasons why I moved. Where I've lived (small towns in the mid-west, mid-south and northeast-ish), there were always a few players. But I rarely met someone who was passionate about playing. Here, I see people reading books about writing better songs where I work (America's Largest Organic Retailer, or ALOR [I will not shame it by mentioning its actual name on my lowly blog]), see people carrying guitars on buses, hear all kinds of musicians at restaurants and even music playing outside. It's pretty much the first place I've lived that is my brand of normal.

Boy, is it intimidating.

Knowing that you're a drop in the firehose teaches you humility right away. Even though we've only been here two months, you already know whether you're going to stay or go, and if you can handle the staying or going. Because, staying means scraping together enough for rent, playing in front of small, apathetic audiences, working retail and cleaning toilets (at least for me it does). And going means you're giving up on your dream. And, as I've heard from many people who a few rungs ahead of me on the music-as-career ladder, the wheat separates from the chaff fast, usually in a few months. We've got two under our belts.

If you're not here for music, the pressure is off. And while we did come here for family, and the convenience and pace of a city, we're really here because we think we can compete: compete with the likes of Over the Rhine or The Avett Brothers. Apparently, we believe we are good enough. (This is where you sit back in your chair, stroke your beard and whisper, "pathetic fools"!)

Here's the thing: "good" will always have a voice. "Good" will always get heard, in some way. My favorite bands aren't household names (but you have heard of the Beatles, right?), but they have a following. I think we are good enough to have a following, and we also think we have something to add to the discourse that is recorded music. Bono, after making and touring the "Pop" record, said that U2 was reapplying for the best band in the world. We're applying for best duo that 1,000 people love. Here's my drug test and work history. (BTW, Wilco and Radiohead are the best bands in the world, Mr. Hewson)

Mike Watt, from the Minutemen and the aforementioned fiREHOSE (not the hairpop monstrosity Firehouse), is one of those guys, and is one of my favorite bass players: I love his style of post-punk playing, his work ethic, and what I assume is a strict no-BS policy. He still drives an Econoline van for tours, just like Neil Young name dropped in "Tonight's the Night". Those vans are so rock and roll that they need to be in the RRHOF, not Madonna. He "jams econo", and rightfully so: just plug in and play, and if you can't do that and kick some butt, why are you wasting my time? I'm egotistical enough to think I can do just that. After all, the world needs more bald, fat, approaching-middle age rock starts.