Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Back in the saddle again.

I am a hit or miss type of person. The "miss" is that I have had thoughts of not continuing to write blog entries (for this blog) any more. However, I have noticed that a small (but solid) group of people continue to check in and read its’ contents from time to time. That is the "hit" part of my bad joke. I feel as if I owe them, as well as you all. something. But what do I owe you all? More “Hit Maker” blog entries, dude!
For this, the first blog entry in such a long, long time, I would like to slide away from the usual topics of the music biz, and get personal with you. I would like to share some thoughts on how we sometimes seem to conduct ourselves as musicians.
This is one of the few businesses where it is common to be (or to get) intoxicated while at work. In the world of entertainment, drugs and alcohol seem to fit right in nicely. In fact it seems to dominate the industry. Most often people want to share their wares with you in exchange for a little bit of your time and maybe even some of your attention. We don’t need rock star status for this very thing to occur either, just step into your local pub and see how the house band gets on. This stuff is real, and it is all too comon. I do not feel a need to even try to tell you what you should do with your life. However, I will tell you what “it” will do for you in this world of music.
Your voice might be your most valuable asset; both on and off of the stage. Smoking has been proven to hinder (if not destroy) the ability to sing well. Hey, let’s not even get into the ability to belt out a long high note while being a smoker.
I know what you are thinking right now! ..…..I know, I know, I know....... Mr. Edward VanHalen built his musical empire with a cig stuck in the tuning pegs of his famous Kramer guitar. That is true enough, but you might also be familiar with his bout with cancer. I, myself, smoke and I dont mind sharing with you that quitting smoking is the hardest thing I have ever tried to do (besides trying to learn how to play an Edward VanHalen guitar solo). If you smoke, why not at least try to quit. If you do not smoke, don’t start! That is all I will type on that topic.
As I ponder how to write down my thoughts about what drinking and drugging will do for your career in music, the sounds and the lyrics of Pink Floyds’ “Don’t leave me now” are playing in my head. What happened to Syd Barrett anyway? Oh yea, I forgot. Let’s face it, if you want to mess up a great performance, get high first. You might sound awesome in your own head, but your ears will be the only ones hearing that particular version.
Experience has given me a few different takes on the many particular substances that will ruin a night’s performance. Any one of them is just as good as the next, well, as far as ruining a show that is. The bottom line here is that substance use will break up your band and deem you undesirable as a musician in any music circuit.
For those of you that still don’t think I know my stuff, here is a little test….. Think of a few of your greatest musical heroes that are forever etched into musical history for both their incredible music and their incredible substance use. Next, think of where they are right now. Most likely they are in Heaven trying out for Shannon Hoons’ new band. By the way, that band features Jimi Hendrix on the guitar.
Remember the last time your band played a gig when you were all wasted? Ever heard that nights bootleg? Not one song from that nights show will make it on to your greatest hits album, I can assure you.
So who the heck am I to try to stop you from “reaping the bennies” of a rock and roll lifestyle? Well, I talk the talk ‘cause I have walked the walk. I, too, said “it will never happen to me”, but it did. I remember the very day that I sold my favorite guitar for just enough money to purchase some substances. I remember being homeless, and out on the streets wishing that I had it back so that I could play it, if only for that one last time.
Well, I am one of the lucky ones. I got out of my rut “with a little help from my friends”. Pardon the joke as I just couldn’t help myself. I will not tell you that I can now sing any better, or play the guitar as good as I always wanted to, because I am clean, but now I can play my guitar in my own home. I have fellow musicians that enjoy playing with me and being around me; and only because I stopped using.
Listen, the music business is still business and you cant "do business" while all messed up. Your dreams will simply never come to be if you are using any of the many different substances. No one will want to hear what you have to say with your music if you are all jammed up. Get help if you need it. Help someone if they need it. Your dreams will still be there waiting for you. Shannon and Jimis’ Heavenly band will just have to wait for now. Get better, and then get good!