Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It’s not luck; it’s chutzpah.

Current mood: accomplished
Someone told me last week that i was "very lucky." Oddly, my first instinct was defensive rather than agreement. I've mellowed a bit since then, and I'll agree that from conception, i've been lucky. I was born into a great family with very little drama. My mom kicked cancer's ass, and both of my parents are still alive to see me doing what I love for a living.

But luck just gets you started.

Things don't just "fall into [my] lap." If i just sat around my house with my dog and wrote songs, I wouldn't be doing any of the things I love.

I've always been a pro-active person. In high school, I did homework all of the time, read constantly, and freaked out at the possibility of getting an A- on something. It wasn't because of any parental pressure. If anything, my perfectionism probably drove them crazy. And yes, I know my attitude was a bit extreme, but i knew i wanted to go far far away to a great college. And if i didn't get the grades, i wasn't getting a scholarship. So i worked my ass off. Now my NYU degree in political philosophy is hanging on the wall next to my guitars, and i've moved on to a career in music, but...

I'm tired of hearing people complain that they can't do things, or that they are unlucky. If nothing is happening, go make something happen. if you don't like the way your life is, then change it.

That's what's so inspiring about my friends. People wonder why all my best friends are artists and writers. It's not just a like-minded career; it's a whole attitude. I surround myself with people who inspire me. I do not like constant complainers or naysayers. I have no time for people who put me down or condescend.

The past two years, especially, I have decided to go after the things I want. Oddly, it's not really "things." Instead, i guess, it's opportunities, moments, and experiences. It's amazing where being confident in your skills can get you. It's not luck; it's chutzpah.

My favorite things over the past year or so are not things at all...
It never hurts to ask. You hear that advice all the time, but I suggest following it. Here are things that happened this year because I decided to brave it and ask.
- Playing piano with the Nashville Star House band, even after i didn't make the final show.
- Playing accordion with Dan Bern at Headliner's (who, by the way, wrote the songs for Walk Hard .. highly recommended)
- Play musical saw with Cowboy Jack Clement and Fluke Holland in Nashville
- Play accordion with the MuzikMafia folks in Nashville (so John Rich probably thought i was nuts, but who cares?)
- I didn't get to play with John Prine or Elvis Costello, but I did ask. And you know what? It didn't hurt to ask.

And the most recent exciting adventure...

The Peter Searcy band was on tour with 7 Mary 3 this past week. I am embarassed to admit that though i had heard of the band, I had not heard any of their songs. And when I told people this prior to the tour, they all responded with a raspy, a capella version of "I have become ... cumbersome." How did i miss this song, you may ask? The 1 song of 1995? Refer to earlier in the blog where I mentioned how all i did in high school was homework. I missed the mid-90's because of scholarship dreams, ha.

Anyway, i first met up with Peter and 7Mary 3 in Dayton, where I missed their set. We had to leave right away to get the rest of the band back to Louisville.
But in Lexington on Friday, i heard their whole set, and was really really impressed. It was a straight-up rock show, and the guys in the band were some of the most gracious, smart, genuinely good people I've ever met. Remember why artists love artists? Inspiration. It's all about inspiration.

I asked if I could play accordion with them on some of the softer stuff, and the following night in Cincinnati, they let me. I wasn't sure how their crowd would take the accordion, but according to the message boards, it was a hit. I also played piano on two songs, and boys, if you're reading this, I'm ready to tour with you. I also can't wait to hear the new record. All my favorite songs of the evening were new, softer, alt-country tunes, with thoughtful lyrics and beautiful melodies.

What else is there, really? Except maybe accordion and chutzpah.

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