Sunday, September 20, 2009
It's up to you.
Well, my 5 year experiment continues. I'm recording and posting everything I write on my site www.GeneBurnett.com and it's all available for free (donation basis) downloading. I also post as much as I can on youtube and myspace. My experiment is to see what comes back freely when I do this. So far so good! Lots of good comments, some tips in my digital tip jar, youtube subscribers and more CD sales than when I only had 30 second clips available on my site.
I'm doing what I'm doing because it feels right. I'm trusting that feeling and going with it. This is what "The Unforced Life" is all about: doing what feels most deeply right and natural, using as little force as possible. There are now 19 (soon to be 20) albums of songs posted. Four (soon to be five) from this year alone! I'm not trying to impress anyone, I'm just being myself. As a line from one of my new songs says: "I'm this way by Nature not by choice".
When I was younger, I wanted to impress every single person I ever played my songs for. I'm glad I wanted that and I'm glad I went for it. I have found that the desire to impress people is a very good thing to study and learn about, both in my self and in others.
These days, the more I focus on delivering my sound the best I can, and letting people's decisions about whether they like it or not be their business, the better I feel, and the more fun I have. It sure takes a lot of energy to care about, and try to control, what other people think of me.
I know I'm kind of a semi-autistic eccentric nut case, but at least I enjoy what I'm doing for its own sake. When I watch other people play, I want to see genuine enjoyment and I want to see a spontaneous act of creation. When a performer is rehearsed and polished but their essential feature is a hunger for worshipful attention, I tend to lose interest.
I guess this is why I am more of a singer and a writer than an entertainer. My first concern is to be true to my own inner sense of rightness and creative expression. Pleasing others comes second. I take my potential audience into account, but I write and sing for myself first. This can be entertaining, but it is not inherently so.
I don't judge my performances solely by whether my audience enjoyed what I did. Sure, it's nice if they do, but my real concern is, Did I play the songs the way I wanted to play them? Did I find that unforced balance between spontaneity and coherence? Did I breathe life into the songs? Did I feel better for having sung them? Did I sing them as naturally as I could without unnecessary effort? Did I get out of the way and serve the songs?
Most of the time, I'd rather play really well to a crowd that was indifferent to me, than play a mediocre set to a crowd that loved me. Missing the mark I find somewhat painful, and the fact that "people liked me" doesn't really make it worthwhile. I'm after that unforced feeling of balance and belonging that comes from singing my own songs in my own voice. When I'm doing that, the last thing on my mind is whether or not anyone is impressed or whether it's entertaining. And oddly enough, that is, I think, when I'm the most impressive and entertaining!