From: (Rimrunner)
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: FTSD: My Fill of Life's Wisdom
Date: 30 Nov 1998 12:37:21 -0800
Organization: paid to be polite to paranoiacs
Lines: 114
Message-ID: <73uvm1$6ig$>
Summary: a sequel, of sorts. a day early. deal.

Last night, the phone rang while I was digging through an overstuffed
kitchen cabinet. Most of my tapes are at the rehearsal studio, because
until recently I didn't own a reliable tape player. Now I have one, but
it's the car stereo.

Having had my fill of L7, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, "Orfeo ed Eurydice",
and the new KISS album, I desperately needed something else to listen to.
On the phone, Corprew asked me to pick up a corkscrew on my way over to
watch TV. (I don't have a TV.) There was wine left from Thanksgiving. We
would have it with dinner.

I dug through a cardboard box containing, among other things, a few copies
of the first demo I ever did. The band was called Dumwaiter, everyone else
was around 10-15 years older than me, and we eventually broke up due to
"creative differences", which, just so you know, is just a euphemism for
personality conflicts.

I also found a copy of a concert by the Smith College Student Orchestra in
the winter of 1995. At the time, I was one of two percussionists and
played most of the timpani parts. The other percussionist was a rudimental
drummer, meaning that most of her experience came from marching bands and
similar kinds of music. I had no classical training, but a drum roll is a
drum roll is a drum roll, and timpani are fun to play. They're louder and
have more dynamic range than a drum set, and it's easier to tune them to
specific pitches. (I've known drummers who tune their kits this way, but
I've never tried it.)

So I put the tape in the car stereo for the drive over. It was Schumann's
Fourth Symphony, which was a lot of fun, although not as much fun as
Tchaikovsky's Second (the performance of which was the only time the
conductor told me to play louder). This was a fairly good amateur
orchestra, especially for a college where majoring in music did not
require that one actually know how to play an instrument.

I played in my first band in high school. I did jazz ensemble, and
survived the marching band for three football games before going to the
band director and telling her that I just couldn't take it anymore. In
college there was another rock band, and the orchestra too. There was a
seminar in West African music, where I learned a bit about syncopation and
how to play in a drum ensemble. There was a composition seminar for which
I wrote a piece for percussion ensemble. Peter Tanner's group at UMass
recorded it for me. He had a few good things to say about the piece, and a
few useful criticisms. I was insensible of what the good comments in
particular meant until afterward; Tanner is quite the composer in his own
right, and an excellent musician.

There were classes with a jazz/blues drummer who had been playing for 20
years, teaching for 10, and taught me the importance of playing a good
shuffle. She liked "The Celestine Prophecy" but I didn't hold it against
her. There was a master class with Max Roach that I attended by accident,
and an Elvin Jones concert I went to with Eric Scheirer, which I left with
several ideas about incorporating a jazz feel into rock, or vice versa.

Not that there's much jazz in my current band, though our bass player has
a more melodic style than most rock bassists. (Your average rock bassist
really only needs one string.) No one's figured out who we sound like,
except someone mentioned once that our guitarist's sound reminded him of
Jane's Addiction. It's goth without the whining and the keyboards, hard
rock that's light on power chords, it's not punk or alternarock, and thus
getting bookings is somewhat problematic.

But the gig is worthwhile primarily because, well, you make something, and
you want people to see it, or hear it, or feel it, or taste it, or
whatever. You write these songs and you play them over and over and over,
and pretty soon you're sick of them, but you take them out and you put
them on stage and they take on new life. Afterward, maybe you get paid.
Maybe some people buy your CD, and maybe someone comes up to you afterward
and tells you they liked your playing. Even if they're only telling you
that because they want to sleep with you, it's nice to hear.

It would be nice someday to make a living this way. Career advisors tell
you that the best way to figure out what you really want to do is imagine
that you won the lottery and think about what you'd do then, then find a
job that approximates that as closely as possible.

The thing is, I can't imagine *not* doing this. It's not exactly the most
rewarding thing in the world, especially when the band is still trying to
establish itself and people tell you they won't book you because you're
not punk, or because you don't draw at least 100 people, or because they
think you suck. But being onstage is itself a rewarding experience, and if
the audience likes you and gets off on what you do, that's worth something
in itself.

Is it worth it? I ask myself that a lot. When it takes several hours to
meet a 45-minute gig commitment, when you get home at 2 a.m. and have to
work the next day, when a certain bar owner screws you over because he
can, and your only recourse is to never play there again, when you're
surrounded by people just like you, when you see bands who opened for you
last year headlining on a Saturday at a place you've been trying to get
into for months--you have to ask. Being even moderately successful in this
field, I'm told by those who have been there, can be a trying experience.
Moderate success means you're not too far below the poverty line and can
eat something besides Ramen or oatmeal for dinner. It means people come to
see your shows and talk about you the next day like you're the next big
thing, only it's probably not true and if it is, they'll slam you for it
next year.

Most of the time, none of that matters. Most of the time, I'm just glad to
sit behind my kit and play in a band with people who've become almost as
close as family. Most of the time, I think that there's nothing that could
possibly replace this, because although there are other things I enjoy,
they aren't the same.

I could be wrong about all of that. At least it's fun.

if it wasn't a pain in the ass, you wouldn't know it was life
Murder of Crows: WANT A CD? EMAIL ME!
"It is the fact that someone could wind up using the phrase 'Because I was
there, bitch' in a discussion about a computer that wants more than
anything to be friendly and warm and fuzzy that makes me feel that the
Internet is the greatest thing ever introduced to human communication."
-- Jeff Vogel regarding the iMac