Being able to write music has been one of the most cathartic things in my life. It has also driven me to the point of madness. I want to take a quick minute from your day and talk about something that I feel a lot of artists need to hear.
You still have time.
You’re not too old, you haven’t spent your final chance.
I remember being eighteen and feeling that if I didn’t break through then, I never would. I remember being twenty-six and in Europe and thinking that if I blew it I would never get another chance. But the truth is that you will always have another opportunity to roll the dice. It is normal to feel like what you’re doing right now is the only thing that matters. That right here and right now, this is your one and only shot. It’s natural to feel like you’re running out of time. We need to acknowledge that we feel that way – and then let go.
That’s easy to say and hard to do. It is essential for you to do.
If you still feel like time has passed you by, here are some artist that broke through after the age of 30.
- Wayne Coyne – 32
- Sheryl Crow – 32
- Bill Withers – 32
- Debbie Harry – 33
- Michael Fitzpatrick – 40
- Leondard Cohen – 50
All of these artists we’re banging their heads against the wall trying to break through before they actually made it. I don’t want you to focus on that level of success though, because anyone who actually makes it is the exception to the rule. Breaking through is not going to make you happy. I have learned first hand that another’s opinion will never make you happy. You could have ten thousand opinions and it will not matter. You will never find peace outside of yourself. You need to turn your focus inward, you need to examine yourself to find the answer. I would argue that most of this stem from the worst word in the English language – anxiety.
Our culture has changed quite a bit since I was young. I remember hearing the word anxiety and picturing the cartoon character with frizzy hair, someone far from me, someone I couldn’t relate to.
Yep, just like that, it was comical. I wasn’t real. Sure I knew people with anxiety. They were crazy, and although I was crazy, it was a different kind of crazy.
All of this is laughable to me now. It wasn’t until I was talking with a friend a few years ago that I learned everyone suffers from anxiety in some form. I think the exact moment I learned this was when I was describing how I felt this overwhelming feeling that hindered everything, and she responded: “Yeah, that’s anxiety.” If you don’t have a friend who can shoot it to you straight, you need to go make that friend right now.
Obviously, I was a little behind the curve. But if we all suffer from this from time to time… then can we learn to use it to our benefit, or at the very least, learn when we’re feeling it and how to work through it?
Where does this anxiety come from? Does this anxious feeling help drive you? Do we need to linger in the darkness to find some sense of creativity? It reminds me of that classic Almost Famous question, “Do you have to be sad to write a sad song?” Well, I have to give you a typical blog answer and say – “It is different for each of us.”
I personally don’t think you have to be sad to write a sad song though. It is true that in the hardest times of our lives we come up with some of the best stuff to write. But I feel that if one does it right, that your art should help you come out of the darkness. Depression is a heavy burden to carry. For some of us, it’ll be one we hold all of our life. But moments of solace come in creating art as a way to communicate that weight we feel. I want you to remember that your material was still crafted by your hand. It wasn’t handed down from Mount Olympus. No my friend, you have done this great thing.
I don’t want anyone to trick themselves into thinking that it is hardship that gives them their material. It is LIFE that gives you content, and although I am in danger of saying something supremely clichè here, if you’re open to life – to the new experiences, to keeping those ears and eyes open – I swear to you that you will always have a well to pull from.
You are not running out of time. You don’t have to stay in a dark place to write. Be kind to yourself, do a little bit every day and when you feel down about the slow progression, take a moment and count the things you’ve already done.
ONE MORE THING!
I want to take a quick moment here and plug a band that I love! Michael Barrow & the Tourists is one of my favorite groups! Their song “Sweet Honey” dropped recently, I want you to take a minute and listen to this guys! I think you’ll fall in love with them like I have!