Whitney

Why can’t we just let it be? Why do we have to dig, and ask, and stalk, and uncover the private and potentially even more heartbreaking details about the death of an icon? What is it in us that must be satiated?

I realize knowing the full story is important for us to move on, to put it to rest, but in this very sad and untimely instance of Whitney Houston’s death, I find myself simply hoping for people to leave the “rest of the story” alone.

We know she was having a hard time. We know life with Bobby wasn’t roses. We know that a superstar among superstars lives a life that 99.99% of earth’s population will never remotely understand.

Yet we can’t leave it alone. We pry. We check TMZ. We watch Nancy Grace-type “news” coverage, that, if we stop and think about it, should make us all sick during moments such as this. Look, I was just watching HLN’s coverage about Whitney, so I’m in this like the rest of us. But I continue to grow tired of it.

A good story is a good story, and the death of a musical legend in her Beverly Hills hotel room literally 24 hours before the GRAMMY Awards is a captivating story. Yes, of course. But since 99.99% or more of us cannot and will not ever understand what it was like to live Whitney’s life, I sincerely hope we can focus on the good times: her good times, and the good times she brought every single one of us.

Whitney Houston was a beautiful part of creation. She obviously had one of the best singing voices ever. Let us all pause and consider her wonderful contributions to our world. Let’s focus on the good times.

How do you want to be remembered?

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Lana Del Rey

Maybe it’s because I wish I had lived through the 60s and 70s, and that’s part of the vibe she seems to be going for. Maybe it’s because I often like to like what everyone else doesn’t. Maybe it’s because I actually like her recorded music.

Either way, much has been made about Lana Del Rey of late. Every possible critic seems to be coming out of the woodwork to belittle her seemingly concocted image, fake lips and lack of stage presence. I’m not saying her Saturday Night Live performance in January 2012 was any good at all. It wasn’t.

Like her or not, she is doing something right, because she has plenty of us talking. As Steve Jones points out in his new book, Brand Like A Rock Star, the only time you need to worry is when no one cares. And the latest alleged news is that Lana cancelled her upcoming tour because of how bad SNL went. Either way, she’s making news and has us talking.

Remember, “good” or even enjoyable music is extremely subjective. Lana Del Rey is not The Eagles or Adele or The Black Keys, but she has her place.

I will continue to listen to Born To Die. I don’t really care if I’m supposed to or not.

Unmet Expectations

I was just watching “Metal Evolution” on VH1 Classic. The “Grunge” episode. There were musicians ripping on seemingly grunge-influenced bands like Candlebox, Creed, etc. Whatever. My point is not to defend a particular band or era of music – that is all extremely subjective. What I do want to address is how angry people can become when their careers don’t quite turn out like they had envisioned. Be very careful to not get caught up in their negative energy. It is not good or helpful, and only makes people more cynical and asshole-ish.

Look, I fully understand there are myriad reasons to hate the realities and confines of the music industry on the whole. That is why I’m about to finish a book called, The Music Industry Doesn’t Have To Kill You. But, we all must try and get beyond crushed dreams and the shrapnel of dubious lies, and live life to the fullest.

Things rarely work out as we hoped, expected or built up in our minds – just like Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation. We often build things up in our minds to a point where if they don’t work out, we have absolutely no idea how to respond, other than ripping on everyone else that did make it.

Taylor Swift is one of the most talented and engaging entertainers, ever. One cannot deny the incredible “thing” she has going. She is spectacular. But I consistently hear people taking jabs at her. Why? Jealousy. Plain and simple. Taylor Swift has blown up to utterly-gargantuan proportions, and she continues to make the right moves. But I still hear that she isn’t a good singer, her songwriting is shallow, etc. Have you heard Bob Dylan “sing”?

If Taylor Swift called to hire you right now, you would gladly accept. Trust me, I saw the magic during her last tour.

Stop being negative.

It is one thing to not be a fan of something. It is another to simply try and tear it down because it’s not you.

I don’t like the New York Yankees or the New England Patriots, but I cannot deny the stellar legacy of both teams and their consistent competitive play.

Accept the fact that very, very, very few musicians will ever be rich and famous. If this is your dream, please check yourself. Don’t give up, but do your best to not unintentionally tear everyone around you down because it didn’t quite pan out like you hoped.

 

 

It’s Not Worth It

I have stood at the precipice of divorce, and later in life, entered its lonely confines. I do not like that, but I am thankful for the perspectives they brought me.

As I write this, there are two little boys asleep in their bedrooms about fifteen feet away from me. We share last names. They hang on my every action – the older one usually imitating my words and movements. There is not a single thing I would not do for either of them, but more than anything else, I cannot imagine walking away from them. The thought of purposefully leaving confused little eyes crushes my heart. Not to live motivated by fear, but consequences are good to keep in mind.

The entertainment industry can be a dark and dangerous place, and I am not referring to physical safety. The limitless temptations are baffling. Are they present everywhere else? Probably. But there is something altogether different about an industry built around mostly attractive people performing for people that idolize them. Add in long days, weeks and months on the road, in the office, or out at shows, and the issues are amplified.

I am not above any of the topics of which I write, and this is not a holier than thou discourse. Where do you think a lot of this motivation comes from? I simply want to call it what it is. When is the last time you saw an affair go well? When have you heard someone on their deathbed wishing they had spent more time in the office? When is the last time you talked with a child that enjoyed living amidst a broken mommy and daddy relationship? Rarely do temporary pleasures turn in to permanent joy.

This is difficult stuff. Let’s be very honest. In one way or another, each of us are tempted towards flashing screens that seem to light the way, but are nothing but the opposite of where we should be going. I have lived up-close with those that have taken the bait, and they will be the first to tell you it did not satisfy. All hell usually breaks loose. It may appear ok on the surface, but I have had enough conversations with those on the backend to be fully convinced that it rarely is.

Consider what this means for you. It is different for all of us. Whatever you may be silently leaning towards, it is not worth it.

The following lyrics, from one of my favorite artists, Andrew Osenga, have pierced my heart many times. The song is called “The Man of the House.”

You should have seen how I first saw her

Should have seen the way we danced

The bar became a ballroom

The haze became a trance

She kissed me like a serpent

And squeezed ’til my heart broke open wide

She told me that she loved me

Guess that’s when she crawled inside

[PHOTOS]: U2, Nashville, Playing It Cool

I would prefer a lot of people I know not hear me say the following: I am pumped for tomorrow night’s U2 show in Nashville.

Look, I am fanatical about a few things, yes. But I have been around some crazy people that treat U2 and Bono as if they are the answer to all problems of all humankind. To those (wonderful) people, I suggest playing it cool, and above all else – don’t look down upon those that either don’t like U2, or do not share your (worshipful) level of fandom.

That said, I truly am elated for tomorrow night’s show. I downloaded the U2 360 Tour app to my phone this morning. I got as close as I could a couple of hours ago to take the below images, and marvel at the spectacle. I am super excited to see U2 in Nashvegas tomorrow night.

We all want and need something bigger. That’s really what this show is all about. That is why we go nutso for an event like this. Our day-to-day lives get ultra-boring, mundane and mostly lack the unending joyous and passionate celebration we all desire.

U2’s 360 Tour: the claw, the songs, the atmosphere, the anticipation, the sing-alongs, the tears, the emotional impact – it truly is a landmark moment in most attendee’s lives. I get it.

To my friends that love U2 at stalker levels, this is a moment where I can almost understand you.

U2 and Bono don’t have all of the answers, but one thing I can say with absolute certainty – the boys from Dublin are doing their damndest to help us all get closer.

 

The Story of Anvil

I knew I needed to watch Anvil! The Story of Anvil after the first review I read. Then I had multiple friends tell me I needed to watch it. For whatever reason, I finally got around to it last night, thanks to Netflix on my Roku.

Watch this documentary. Please. As soon as you can.

If you have stumbled your way to this site, I am assuming you have some interest in the music industry, or how people act in the music industry, or what to expect from it. Anvil! The Story of Anvil sums it up perfectly.

It is not a pretty place. Via the story of Anvil, you quickly see just how gruesome it can be. Not every story is Anvil’s, but let’s face it, most are.

The following quote is from Anvil drummer Robb Reiner. Keep in mind this guy has been in the same band since the early 1980s.

I hate the f*cking industry. You know? It will never change. It’ll never get better. They’re all f*cking bottom-feeder pieces of sh*t that run the thing. Organized criminals. You know? Drug f*cking runners. That’s what the business is about, right? I hate it, man.

Why a book?

As I’m nearing completion of my first book, I’m starting to be asked, why this book? Why this topic? Why am I so passionate about an idea such as the music industry doesn’t have to kill you?

There are many reasons, but as I consider these questions more, I’m realizing it’s mostly because I know what it feels like to be an underdog, and I know what it feels like to be treated like I’m not good enough.

The decision to actually write a book came about after months of realizing how much I loved writing, researching, and interviewing people via my music blog, Clore Chronicles. One day I was listening to C.C. Chapman talk about goals and accountability and just going for it, and one of the specific things he mentioned was writing a book. I thought, “Why the heck not? I am going to do that. I have passionate beliefs and ideas. Let’s do this.” That was in May 2010. I didn’t quite reach my initial publish goal of June 1, 2011, but I’m really close. And in this case, I view the follow-through as more important than my self-imposed deadline.

I also was getting really tired of constantly working to push out more information, via my blog, in an information-saturated world. You could say I retreated for a bit to put all of my efforts towards one huge goal: creating a book.

When I first started, I thought I could just pull together some of my better, already written essays, and have enough for a book. Nope. Not even close. By the way, there have been many highs and lows and near give-up moments in this process. I have often thought myself a complete idiot for making it known that I was going to write a book. What in the world was I thinking? I will say though, making it known has often been my motivation to keep going – I knew I would not be able to move forward after having shouted such an empty promise from the mountaintop.

As for my personal experiences which turned into motivation to create a book titled The Music Industry Doesn’t Have To Kill You, I have experienced some things in my life that have helped me identify, and pursue, what really matters. I have worked with artists that no one cares about, artists that don’t get your phone calls answered. I have seen firsthand what happens to personal relationships when the glitz and glam becomes more important than treating people with respect and dignity. I have worked with artists that “used to be” really popular and wanted, but now are struggling to find their identity and are adjusting to being treated like they don’t matter. I experienced a marriage that did not work out. That last one was huge. I went from working on the “Country music” side of Nashville to the “Christian music” side, and received some pretty hurtful comments and questions in the process.

I can’t tell you how many people around this fickle town have treated me like I’m not good enough, for multiple reasons. AND, far more important than that, I can’t tell you how many people around this town I’ve seen treated like a nobody. It is sickening.

There is nothing else I want to spend my life doing other than working in and around the music industry, but I am not going to lose my soul in the process, or treat people like they don’t count, or leave my precious child sitting and waiting for me in his playroom.

The music industry is not going to kill me. It is not going to rob my life of the people and experiences that will matter once every last light has dimmed, and the crowd has all gone home.

I am here to tell you that this is a dark, fickle and unforgiving industry. Artists will come, and artists will go, but don’t ever forget that each and every single one of them is a human being, with thoughts, feelings and emotions. Do your best not to toss them to the side when they’re not on your precious little chart any longer.

The music industry does not have to kill you, but settle in, it’s going to be a fight.

Paul Simon and Privacy

In Nicholas Dawidoff’s Rolling Stone story on Paul Simon (RS 1130; 5/12/11), he writes:

It hasn’t escaped Simon’s notice that the more he kept his personal life to himself, the better life got. ‘At a certain point,’ he [Simon] says, ‘you begin to realize about your life and your private affairs that it’s inappropriate that it should be entertainment for somebody else. There’s no requirement that I tell how I hurt and how I feel. It’s a mistake you make early on. I see Eminem out there talking about his family, his kids, and I think 10 or 15 years from now he’ll regret it.’

I do believe most art (songs, paintings, books, films, etc.) comes from a very personal place, a personal experience, personal emotion – something one feels. Consider some of the greatest works of art – someone experienced whatever came out in that song or movie, but that doesn’t mean the writer let all interested parties into their deepest, most personal of places.

Be it in interviews, public behavior, or creative output – be self-aware. Some information is wholly unnecessary to divulge. Some things really are better left unsaid.

Consider how what you say may affect others. That’s really the point here.

Video: How to be successful in a band

Just watch this video.

If you want to understand the context of what is going on in this video, read here.

Hurt, a song to live by

As I progress in writing my first book, I am intrigued by the way my thoughts and ideas evolve and formulate. I’ve had the core idea for the book for a while now, but it has been very hard to explain at times. I know people have been confused by prior explanations, as have I.

Now that I have the title, The Music Industry Doesn’t Have To Kill You, it is really beginning to come together. I am not finished yet, but it feels so much better than it did even 3 or 4 months ago.

Just now, I decided to watch Johnny Cash’s music video for “Hurt,” because it truly is one of my favorite songs and music videos, but more so because it is such a strong reminder of what it’s all about. As I was watching, I realized that’s it; that is what my book is all about. Cash sings Trent Reznor’s words at the end:

And you could have it all, my empire of dirt

I will let you down, I will make you hurt

If I could start again, a million miles away

I would keep myself, I would find a way

I can distinctly say to you that this song and music video deeply impacted my soul when I first experienced it in 2003. That actually was probably the beginning of me realizing just how passionate I was about the deeper impact of music, on all of us, but especially those who live life in or around the music industry.

Cash didn’t write the lyrics, but Trent Reznor did, and he was writing about the evils of a terrible substance called heroin.

If I could start again…I would keep myself

Think about that. Reznor, Cash, both men with real life, hardcore experience and subsequent wisdom. If I could start again…I would keep myself. There is a huge lesson in that line.

I’m not saying do or don’t do certain things, just use your brain. Learn from those that have made stupid decisions in the past, and do your best to make better decisions, for your own sake, your family, and all of those around you. Yes, live life. Have fun. Do fun things that will provide countless memories to relive with those near you, just consider the bigger picture. We’re all dealt a different hand, some far better than others, I get that. All you can do is strive to handle yourself in the best possible manner, no matter your upbringing or realities of your today.

The music industry doesn’t have to kill you. That’s what I want to communicate now, and for the rest of my life. I’m so deeply committed to, and passionate about this crazy industry of music and entertainment, and I want to do my part to encourage those around me to see the positive, the good, and to work to push away the dark side, the negativity, that so quickly destroys.

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