I read the following story in Digital Music News this morning.
Pelosi to Musicians: Quit Your Day Job!
Is this the sort of thinking that got America into trouble in the first place? According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, artists and musicians would be able to quit their day jobs and focus on their creative endeavors under the new health care bill. “We see this as an entrepreneurial bill, a bill that says to someone, ‘if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care.'”
Actually, a broader point is being made about the compromises artists and entrepreneurs often make to survive. But it remains unclear if the larger safety net will encourage greater creativity or entrepreneurialism, or simply create more bloat. Indeed, the debate over Obamacare stretches far beyond the purview of this publication.
But within music, a real debate does surround the conditions that truly breed creativity and lasting works. On one hand, greater time and fewer real world distractions are viewed as stimulants for creative output, except that some of the most influential and important artists lived through incredible poverty, oppression, segregation, or otherwise difficult and demanding circumstances. And, within major labels, huge advances and comfy creative situations tend to lessen the chances of edgy songs and hits.
Of course, there are counter-arguments and lots of back-and-forth to be had. Perhaps this is a debate best enjoyed over a cold beer, without the pressures of work.
This is absurd. I’m not talking about whether or not universal health care is right or wrong, but whether or not having it helps creative types.
It will not. Not at all. Paul Resnikoff, who wrote the Digital Music News piece is absolutely right when he says:
“…Some of the most influential and important artists lived through incredible poverty, oppression, segregation, or otherwise difficult and demanding circumstances.”
I find it funny that my good friend Tyler Clark left a comment last night on this blog about this topic, in response to my post “Some Thoughts on Lennon.” As Clark pointed out about John Lennon’s upbringing:
“It seems that the scars from his childhood – literally being forced to choose between his parents, abandoned to live with his aunt, suffering the death of his mother as a teenager – always left him wounded.”
We’re talking about John Lennon of The Beatles here!
It is absolutely comical that Pelosi would go so far as to say that creative types can quit their day jobs to focus on their creative output because of recent legislation. We don’t even know if this grand dream of health care is going to work (I hope it does), but there is zero connection regardless. Is one’s health insurance the only bill that needs to be paid in a non-universal health care world? Hardly.
Keep your day job (it’s better for the economy), pay your blasted bills, output creativity when you can, and above all – live a life of reality, replete with difficulties, accountability and heartache like the rest of us, so that you will have something genuine and believable to be creative about.