Once upon a time, a long long time ago, in a city at least twenty minutes away, I worked at a record label. We released a LOT of crap. (Exhibit A)
Sometimes the crap sold well. Sometimes it didn’t. But that was the business. That was the gamble.
Every now and again, we’d release something wonderful. And when that record sold well, everything was right with the world. The good guys won. Our jobs had purpose, meaning.
But art is tricky. Sometimes, no matter how brilliant of a work you create, no one listens. No matter how much truth, beauty, and skill you pour into a piece, it may not find an audience.
While I was there, the label released an album called Smile by The Jayhawks. It was perfect, beginning to end. And it tanked. Even the New York Times wrote about it.
I’ve been thinking about that record a lot lately. The good guys (or gals) don’t always win. Writers create compelling worlds and no one visits. Visual artists craft statements that no one seems to hear. Hours, weeks, months, years spent perfecting a piece…and nothing. Finding the momentum to keep creating can be hard.
My friend Andra was suffering from a crisis of faith in herself and her art. (Naturally. It’s a professional liability with work that’s so hard to quantify.) So I started learning this song for her.
Then, because 2016 wants to cram in a little more drama, someone I love dearly was just diagnosed with breast cancer. No, not this lovely one. Another one. Because mother-fucking cancer. And as I practiced the song, it made me think of her, too.
So now this song is for both of them. And for you, of course. Because your story isn’t done, either. There’s another part to play.