Ticking Time Baum…Boom…A-HA!

mtomlinson
To know me is to know that I’m a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz.
I actually cried standing at this gravesite.
This man, who died in 1919, has figured so prominently in my life.
It was a bit overwhelming to pay my respects to him.
There is a Wizard of Oz thread I can trace from childhood to my life as an adult, so it really comes as no surprise that this quote perfectly sums up the epiphany I had last week:
It’s funny how things work.  Or don’t work, as it were.
If you’ve been following my blog or my musical journey at all, you will notice a number commonalities in my posts. Self-doubt. Struggle. Uncertainty. Confusion. Disappointment. As much as I have have tried to forge ahead and stay positive, the whole process of being an “indie musician” has left me constantly feeling that I am going against the grain.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I have no idea what I’m doing, I don’t know if my choices are good ones, or if this is how it’s supposed to be done. I’ve just kept trying to do what I think is right (or more importantly, what I think I should) and on February 8th I came to the stark realization that what I am doing is simply not working.
So I stopped everything.
I gave myself some time to figure out what I want to do with music. Having pneumonia also helped give me that time, and something tells me that it’s no coincidence that I got so sick when I did. During this time of contemplation, nothing was left unexamined, and I had to be honest about everything, not the least of which was asking myself…should I just quit music altogether?
Before I threw everything away, I started where everything starts. The beginning.
Some things are crystal clear, and have been forever
  • I want to sing
  • I want to make a connection with people
  • I want people to be entertained and excited when they come to my show
Some things are clear because I tried them and they revealed what didn’t work for me
  • I’m better working independently than with a group
  • I’m better when I focus on singing, rather than trying to sing and play piano
  • I like variety in the songs I sing, rather than having to do the same ones over and over
Then I thought about what makes me miserable about being an “indie musician”
  • figuring out how to stand out among the MILLIONS of other people doing this
  • the process of recording, manufacturing and distributing music
  • hiring musicians
  • writing serious songs
  • reading “how-to” articles, books and blogs on the business of music
  • grant writing
  • my dwindling show attendance
  • song and musician contests
  • that after my shows I feel I never did well enough or lived up to my potential as a performer

Then I thought about what makes me happy about being an “indie musician”
  • singing
  • making people laugh at my shows
  • anything to do with the visuals…the CD cover, posters, my website photos and themes
  • my kickstarter project was a hoot
  • playing ukulele
  • finding the right words to capture an idea in a song
  • making a connection with people
All these thoughts were crashing around in my head, little mental puzzle pieces all in disarray.  Then I went out last Friday night and everything changed for me.

I went to see Bo Burnham.
If you don’t know Bo Burnham, here’s an introduction.

He is a musical comedian.  And after seeing him, I realized…that’s what I am too.
How was this not obvious to me yet?
All the signs were there. I mean, re-read that blog on February 8th and you’ll see it is leaping off the page like a flashing sign. Looking over the last four years of me doing shows, knowing what I loved about doing them….then understanding what people loved about them from what they wrote on the comment cards, I realized that I had all the puzzle pieces, I just didn’t have them in the proper order to see the whole picture.
Once this epiphany struck, this happened.
And that list from before?
  • I want to sing  I WILL 
  • I want to make a connection with people I DO
  • I want people to be entertained and excited when they come to my show THEY ARE
  • I’m better working independently than with a group ONE WOMAN SHOW!
  • I’m better when I focus on singing, rather than trying to sing and play piano PRE RECORDED TRACKS…IF BO CAN DO THAT, SO CAN I
  • I like variety in the songs I sing, rather than having to do the same ones over and over COMEDY AUDIENCES ALWAYS WANT NEW MATERIAL
  • figuring out how to stand out among the MILLIONS of other people doing this I CAN COUNT ON ONE HAND HOW MANY WOMEN ARE DOING MUSICAL COMEDY
  • the process of recording, manufacturing and distributing music I LEARNED HOW
  • hiring musicians DON’T NEED THEM
  • writing serious songs DON’T NEED TO
  • reading “how-to” articles, books and blogs on the business of music I AM A PIONEER
  • grant writing NOW I HAVE A CLEAR-CUT IDENTITY AND PURPOSE
  • my dwindling show attendance NOT FOR LONG!
  • song and musician contests DON’T NEED THEM
  • that after my shows I feel I never did well enough or lived up to my potential as a performer MY POTENTIAL IS COMING TO FRUITION NOW
I was tidying up the house and what happened to be sticking out like a sore thumb but a book that I took with me to Oprah’s Lifeclass in 2012. When I re-read my notes, this one jumped off the page:
I realized that for the last four years, I’ve been doing just that…begging for the direction. In my a-ha moment…the instruction came to me clear as day.
So I can confidently say that my last year of tedious, heartbreaking and disappointing struggle has shown its value.
I can also confidently say that I am no longer trying to make “London Girl” happen. I understand now that this record was sent to me as a crash-course, and I am so grateful for the lessons it taught me. I recognize this effort was meant to get me going, and starting is the hardest part. I lay this record to rest with the respect it deserves.  Although the entire process of bringing this record from idea to reality constantly made me feel like a fish out of water, it gave me my sea legs and actually taught me how to swim.  Just like Dori says:

So watch this space, dear reader, because everything changes from here. I hope you will join me for my next musical adventure because this time…I’m having fun!

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