Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Are Musicians Free?


There's a kind of universal kinship among musicians. You see a great band and you're jealous. You see a bad band and you feel superior for being so much better. You see a mediocre band with undeserved attention and you wonder why that isn't you. But no matter who they are, there's a sense that you're all fighting the same fight, trying to make your voice heard and win the music lottery so you can stop sleeping in the van and living off bean tacos on tour. 

Last night I saw a young band from Wisconsin making their way through the Northeast. I expected to feel that familiar jealousy that they were living the kind of life I should be living and the odd pride that my fellow musicians were getting people to stop and listen to them, but I felt none of that. I was just an observer, listening to their music and their stories about sleeping eight to a tent, no jealousy involved.

I'm not sure I want that life. Maybe I just thought I should, and you know how that goes…

I want freedom. But being a musician doesn't feel like freedom. It means that everything I save goes into the next record, and I can't just go travel wherever I want because my destination is dictated by the next market I need to build on the next underfunded tour. I want adventure (in the great wide somewhere … sorry, I couldn't help myself) but I don't think I just want to "freefall through life" (anyone else out there watching OITNB? Alex Vause, amiright????). I want my adventures to be controlled. I want a plan. I want to work my butt off, to be great at what I do, and to have a home base but also to see the world, to always be growing, to always have new experiences and then come home to tell my friends about them. I want it all.

I guess there are different kinds of freedom— freedom from a desk job and the freedom that comes with security. I happen to work in the biz, at the best job a girl could hope for, so I think I'm okay just having the latter.

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