Be Safe – The Cribs with Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth) – 2007

Creative failure is a constant in my life.  I say this because it just happens.  Real success comes with consistency.  It really does.  My record for a having a band together performing on a stage is something like 3 months.  Just enough time to ruin some friendships for a couple of years.  Some of my songs are good, but I have yet to be satisfied with a recording.  I know I have some really good recordings that have disappeared with the bands I wrote them with.  The artifacts missed an apartment move somewhere along the line.  I have written sporadically, but it doesn’t come to much.  Just another thing to become despondent about.  “Oh look there’s another thing that I didn’t finish.”  But I’m not unique in this.  I know several people with creative talents that can’t be consistent.

But I wonder about classifying my efforts as failures.  I wonder about any of us classifying these things as failures.  I get up every morning and go to work.  As I get older responsibilities pile on top of others.  The free market system says I must work and make money, and in the free market sense of things, maybe I never really offered a product.  It was incredibly hard to adjust my motivations from creative tendencies to concrete efforts to stabilize my life.

I think of it like my description of insomnia.  I disciplined my mind and emotional state to stop being bitter about missing sleep.  Not being bitter helps me get through the day.  The day is usually dominated by responsibilities and things that I have to do like work.  When I was younger, bitterness about all of the things that work was keeping me from doing might get me walking out the door.  But I would just have to go find another job because I was broke.  Over the years, I have disciplined myself not to be bitter about having to do things that I don’t want to do.  In some cases, I have learned to enjoy the things that I have to do.  But all of this kind of comes off to me like, “Boo hoo!!!  I didn’t become a rock star.”

There are much worse things that can happen in your life.  And the truth is I more than just enjoy providing for my family and watching my son grow up.  I love going home and knowing we have another day together.  It’s pretty awesome.

I also know that anything becomes just another gig.  I have a friend who has been a cellist for a major orchestra for 15 years.  At the time I met him, he had been with this orchestra for about 8 years.  I asked him a lot of questions about his job eventually concluding that it was a pretty cool job.  His reponse, “Ahhhh ya know.  Eventually everything becomes just another gig.”

“One of those fucking awful black days when nothing is pleasing and everything that happens is an excuse for anger. An outlet for emotions stockpiled, an arsenal, an armor. These are the days when I hate the world, hate the rich, hate the happy, hate the complacent, the TV watchers, beer drinkers, the satisfied ones. Because I know I can be all of those little hateful things and then I hate myself for realizing that. There’s no preventative, directive or safe approach for living. We each know our own fate. We know from our youth how to be treated, how we’ll be received, how we shall end. These things don’t change. You can change your clothes, change your hairstyle, your friends, cities, continents but sooner or later your own self will always catch up. Always it waits in the wings. Ideas swirl but don’t stick. They appear but then run off like rain on the windshield. One of those rainy day car rides my head implodes, the atmosphere in this car a mirror of my skull. Wet, damp, windows dripping and misted with cold. Walls of gray. Nothing good on the radio. Not a thought in my head.”

Some days I get in the car and I just don’t want to do it another minute.  No matter how good I feel about everything.  And it was easy writing these things when I first started.  I was unemployed.  It’s easy to be inspiring when I only work at things that I’m good at.  Or that I want to do.  When my day consists of getting up and thinking about what I will create.

The commitments aren’t always just about diversions from a creative career.  Life is just full of shit that I don’t want to do.  But the truth is that I have been trying to figure out how to get all of this stuff to co-exist for 20 years.  But always with the idea that in the end I would have the freedom to spend more time on creativity.  Recently it occurred to me that I am getting so good at the means to my end that the end is getting in the way of my means.

It would be like trying to go to the store.  The means to getting to the store is walking down the street.  But along the way there are people that I don’t want to know that I am trying to get to the store, so there are these road blocks.  They stop me and ask where I am going.  I lie and tell them I am going to the coffee shop.  They tell me the coffee shop is in the opposite direction.  I go off in the opposite direction of the one I want to go.

“Be safe.  Be safe.  Be safe.  Be safe.  Be safe.  Be safe.  Be safe.”

This isn’t entirely accurate because it’s just a feeling.  All of us want to be somewhere else some of the time.  And the truth is that more often than not, people are impressed that I have other goals.  Everyone wants to do something extraordinary with their life.  And from time to time, we all have the opportunity to do something extraordinary.  But there’s a lot of deep valleys between those mountains, and it’s easy to be at the bottom.  Going uphill is hard work.  Shit rolls down hill.

I noticed something today.  I was listening to the news and I became very focused on what was wrong with the world.  I wanted to start another blog about politics.  But then I thought about how yesterday I wasn’t interested in writing a blog about politics.  The only reason I was interested in this is because I was listening to the news.  The noise was deafening.  It blocked out all of the appreciation I had yesterday for living.  I’m not going to stop listening to the news.  I’m just going to keep fighting for something transcendental.

“I know a place we can go and I’m falling.  Love so hard that you wish you were ten.”

The Cribs have a lot of great songs, but today I feel like Be Safe.  I was listening to the song and wondering why the spoken word guy didn’t have a British accent.  Then I realized it was Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth.  I love how raw The Cribs make everything sound.  And how a lot of their songs sound like they just thought it up and screamed it into a microphone.  On the surface it all sounds like a bunch of “fuck off”.  But when I listen a little longer, it’s exactly what is right.  Like Lee Ranaldo is a little bit of a downer on this song with this spoken word tirade.  Then The Cribs vocal comes in periodically and it’s an uplifting answer to a shitty day.  And he just repeats it until it overpower all the shit.

“I know a place we can go and I’m falling.  Love so hard that you wish you were ten.”

Here I am.  It’s another day.  The only thing different about this year and last year is that I’ve written 40,000 words in a blog about shit that I am actually thinking about rather than honing my skills of pretending to be interested in stuff that makes the world move.  Money.  Work.  Software.  Computers.  Minerals.  The stock market.  Politics.  I care.  I do.  But I let it kill what makes me want to live sometimes.

Buy – Be Safe MP3

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