As is tradition with Windhaven, we’ve decided to shake things up a bit (again). We recently had a long, engaging conversation with our Id, which forced us to re-evaluate our approach to a few things.
Id asked, “Why are you spending so much time working up cover tunes when you’re really only interested in your own original material?”
We were bemused by Id’s child-like innocence, but we’ve always taken the time to answer any of Id’s curious questions, such as “Why do they say the sky is blue when it isn’t always?” It’s usually less frustration to give her a moment than be engaged in lengthy debates.
“Simple, Id,” we replied, invoking our usual saint-like patience, “if we’re going to make a living from performing, we have to play a lot of cover tunes to get the work.”
Id nodded thoughtfully, but was clearly not placated. “But,” she continued, “audiences always like your original material best. It makes no real sense to…”
“The club owners,” we interjected, “want to know what they can expect from a band. They’re more comfortable with hiring you if you play a lot of the songs they know.”
“But,” countered Id, perhaps sensing a paradox, “even when they like your cover tunes, they don’t pay you what you’re worth.”
“And if you don’t bring along a hundred of your closest friends and relatives with you to spend a fortune on booze and food, they probably won’t invite you back anyway.”
“Well, that’s not exactly…”
“And they’ll probably complain if you play of a lot of original material, regardless of how much people like it.”
We stared at Id, thinking up a whole slew of witty comebacks to counter her many valid points. But we came up with only one lame counter.
“You don’t understand,” we told Id.
“So, what I’m wondering is why you even bother?” Id asked. “If there’s really no money in it, and you have to play other people’s songs to get these low-paying gigs, why do you do it?”
“Well,” we stammered, feeling defensive and not knowing why, “it’s not about the money.”
“Right!” Id exclaimed with a big grin. “It’s about the music! But,” Id laughed, “is it about playing other people’s music?”
“Well, not exactly…”
“How many times have you played ‘Margaritaville’? ‘Carolina On My Mind’? ‘Nobody Knows You’?”
“Did you first get into music to play other people’s songs or your own?”
“Well,” we admitted, “our own, of course. But that’s…”
“Exactly!” Id snapped, laughing. “That’s it! That’s it! Now, let me ask you this. How long has it been since you worked on your own music?”
An uneasy silence settled between us. We glared at Id. How dare she say these things to us? We were the ones who had to walk up on those stages and bear our souls, not Id. We were the ones who had to do the work. Anybody could sit back and criticize. It’s another matter to drag yourself out there and keep plugging away at it night after night when you’d really rather not be playing other people’s music. But you have to earn the right to play your own music. You have to build your audience. It takes time.
“When, if I may ask,” Id said softly, dragging us back into the conversation, “did you last record an original song?”
“What?” we protested. “How does that…”
“You’ve done almost nothing since Windhaven released its CD. Why is that?”
“Well, we’ve been working…”
“… on other people’s music.”
“Well, yeah. So we can…”
“… go out and get gigs.”
“Yeah. Gigs are…”
“Gigs that pay little or nothing at all.” Id grinned. “Right? Am I right?”
“Not exactly,” we protested. But we sighed. Nodded. Who were we fooling besides ourselves? “Okay, okay. Maybe you have some points. But it’s not that simple, Id.”
“No. Not at all.”
“You were put on this Earth to do one thing, and you, my friends, are very, very good at it.”
“Well… thank you.”
“So?” she snapped.
We stared at Id. “So?”
Id smacked her forehead in exasperation. “So if you were put here to create great music, and you’re good at it, why, oh why, are you spending most of your free time working up a show that consists primarily of other people’s music?”
“Well, we explained…”
“I know! So you can get low paying gigs from club owners who won’t invite you back unless they can make a small fortune off of you on a Friday or Saturday night. That makes perfect sense.”
We sighed. “Okay, okay.”
Id danced an impromptu jig with a big, happy smile upon her face. “Do my ears deceive me? Are you getting a glimpse? Are we finally coming around the bend?!”
“So,” we wondered aloud, exhausted. “What is it you want from us?”
Id smacked us on our foreheads with her palms. “I am your Id, silly gooses. Geeses?” She smiled warmly at us. “What do you think I want? I want more original music! Isn’t that obvious? Original music!”
We nodded. We had been aching to make more original music ourselves. It just never fit in with our schedules. It isn’t quite as easy as Id thought it was to step away from what everyone expects you to do and instead strike off on your own determined direction.
Id stepped up close to us and grabbed us gently by our collars.
“It really is that simple,” she said, smiling affectionately at us, as if relieved that we were finally beginning to see the light. “You’ve been over-thinking it, my loves. Stop being so busy. Get back to just being.” She kissed us lightly on our cheeks. “That’s when I love you the most. When you just are.”
We smiled. Whether we liked it or not, Id had made her point. A weight seemed to lift from our shoulders as we thought of setting aside the dozens of cover tunes that we had been hacking our way through. The thought of recording and performing only our original material warmed our hearts like a ray of sunshine upon our faces on a cloudy day. Id definitely had made her point.
“Thank you,” we told her.
Id grinned. “It’s what I do,” she told us, pulling us both close in tight hugs. “Now,” she said, “go and make me some new music.”