“When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” – C. S. Lewis
I've quoted this before. It's re-emphasis is not without purpose. You see, I've known many incredible people in my lifetime, and what continues to strike me is the frequency with which they insist that they were, at one point, "too embarrassed" to look silly.
It's a poignant remark in my eyes because (and this is not bragging), the idea of looking silly is one that has not entered my mind in probably a decade. The concept that anyone would be embarassed by who they are, afraid to express their thoughts or personality is mind-boggling. We are who we are in the same way that a pear is a pear or a tree is a tree, nothing can change that.
So truly what requires more effort? Being yourself in the face of possible ridicule, or maintaining an unnecessary and futile facade? How much energy are you wasting a day being someone else when you could be the beautiful, powerful you?
Think about it.
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[caption id="attachment_276" align="aligncenter" width="470"] Even an axe can demonstrate the virtue of hard-work and quality.[/caption]
I’ve been obsessed for a while now with an outdoor goods company called Best Made Company. The enchantment is owed as much to their unobtainability (the products themselves are quite expensive) as it is to the allure of the products themselves. The pictures of each product allude to their quality, not just in product design but in aesthetic. But the question is, what pulls us in about goods like this? What is it about an aluminum, red first-aid kit with a lower case “x” in the middle that gets is hooks in us, rendering consideration for price and competing products a trivial conversation next to their intrinsic gravity?
The answer has to be price. I mean come on, it’s a simple formula: an attractive product with a prohibitively expensive price = instant purchase from anyone with some room on their credit card. We’re creatures who love our exclusivity. We demand exclusivity to the point that even validation of our tastes can result in a dulling of the sheen our objects of affection emanate. We find confidence in our selections especially when no other being in our social circle makes the same selection.
But that doesn’t work. I mean, the first thing I do when I check out the Best Made Co. website is search for affordable options; things I can justify purchasing to myself. I don’t need a $490 set of nautical flags, nor do I need a $300 axe. I don’t find these items any more appealing because they would empty my bank account, that’s just simply not the case.
Well then it’s gotta be the fact that I don’t own these things already. Grass is always greener, always. I don’t currently own a decent first-aid kit, so why not get an attractive one? I don’t own a jug of maple syrup, so I need one. Even if I have one stocking cap, this one is different. Different color, different material, different feel. It’s just different okay? I need it because it’s different and that has to be better.
[caption id="attachment_1183" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Flyer for my show on a wall at The Basement!"][/caption] I can't say that I ever envisioned actually "rocking out" at one of my shows, but last night at The Basement, that's pretty much what my band and I did. Overall, it was the most energetic, balls-out, badass set we've ever done. These are strange adjectives to use coming from an artist who often employs a more subtle and understated approach to music. [caption id="attachment_1182" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Last night at The Basement in Nashville, TN"][/caption] I can only guess that with the addition of a drummer and a bassist my set becomes a bit more volatile and in-your-face. The energies of two other musicians make the dynamics so much more potent. I really love playing with these guys . . . [caption id="attachment_1181" align="aligncenter" width="499" caption="Ben, Tim, and Me at The Basement"][/caption] I've decided that I'm going to seek out the qualities that Tim and Ben possess in musicians I will perform with in the future. They made the stage experience so much more fun for me. They were present for every note and nuance-- matching my energy level and going with the ebb and flow of what I was doing. I am ever so grateful for this beyond words. We were such a cohesive little three-piece, and I am so very, very proud of them and how we played last night. [caption id="attachment_1184" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="On stage at The Basement"][/caption] As this was more of a showcase than an actual show, we only performed 4 songs. (3 intended and one added on at the end when Grimey asked for one more). Here was the setlist: 1. Villain 2. Swirl 3. Fear 4. Mr. Stranger "Villain" was a rousing start to it all. The sound of the music on stage was really really loud. People trickled in from the outdoor patio as we played this. I know I wanted to do a solo piece for this set and for a while I was at a loss for which of my songs to play. Well, "Swirl" keeps consistently being requested at my shows, and so, I thought, why not? Even though we played all of the other songs with reckless abandon, my performance of "Swirl" was a brief return to form--a slow, delicate build to a mounting crescendo of emotion. What was a little eerie about this was that I remember looking out into the crowd as I played it, and noticing that it was very still and quiet--all of these motionless eyes feeling glued to me . I don't think I'll ever forget how this felt. "Fear" was played with a fury I have not quite felt before. There's this part after the bridge where we get loud and chaotic--this felt amazing. Tim was beating the hell out of the drums. Ben was going crazy at the bass. Pandemonium, I tell you. Chaos made manifest. Loved it. Finally, we played Mr. Stranger at the end. I started it off with my trusted melodica. (Mental Note for Gordon: never say the words "anonymous sex" while introducing a song or else suffer the consequences.) I really do love playing this song even with all of its off-beat quirky darkness. It was a solid end to a solid set. We played to a crowd of about 40 people by my estimation, and they were a wonderful audience. I am sad to say that several folks who said that they would be there didn't make it after all. This is part of the culture of living here in Nashville. There are numerous music venues, and the folks who live here get constantly invited to shows. It also doesn't help that there is a huge population of performing musicians in town who are all just doing their own thing. I think all of this makes most locals jaded or reluctant to go out and see bands play. As a result, it makes musicians less willing to mount shows in the area. I know of several acts who very rarely ever play in town even though they live here. They've gotten a lot more love elsewhere. This gives me a lot to think about, and I'm honestly considering the same route for myself. People aren't aware of the time, effort, and work it takes to promote and mount a show, and they don't know the disappointment that comes with empty promises. I don't do music to get disappointed or jaded. I've got some alone time coming my way soon. I'll make some decisions then. If any of you have thoughts on this, feel free to leave a comment or write to me via e-mail: gordon(at)gordonroque(dot)com. Otherwise, there were some folks I wasn't even expecting who did make it out, and it was so great to see them. All hope was not lost. Overall, my first set at The Basement went very well. The best part for me was being able to play with Tim and Ben in front of an audience. A good time can become a great time when it is shared. It doesn't get better than this. -gordo