News and Random Musings

Self-Promo Full Disclosure 

So here’s the thing about self-promotion: I hate it! And a few weeks ago I finally realized why. It was early in the morning and I was outside in flannel PJ bottoms, an oversized sweatshirt, Danny’s slippers, my hair was sticking out in all directions and I was trying to hide from the neighbors as I yelled at the dog to “GET BACK HOME THIS MINUTE!” Suddenly I contrasted this crazy woman image with the promo flyer I was working on that morning and realized the thing I dislike most about self-promotion is that it feels so fake. When I send out update emails detailing all the cool and wonderful stuff that’s going on in my life or post facebook updates about how great a gig was I feel like I need to include a disclaimer, something along the lines of, “But this isn’t the whole story!”

Of course, all 6 people who read my updates know me well enough to know this, but it still totally goes against my grain. I think it has to do with the Midwest ethics I was raised with. Bragging does not go over well in a small farm community. Everyone knows everyone (personally, not as facebook friends) and everyone knows someone who has just suffered a real tragedy or loss. There is a lot less isolation, a lot less just reading about tragedy in the headlines and a lot more taking food to the neighbor whose family member just died. In that context, it feels disrespectful and thoughtless to brag about how wonderful one’s life is. Not to mention stupid – when you’re connected to real life, you see just how easily things can turn on a dime. And who wants to jinx themselves by bragging when everyone knows “pride goeth before a fall”?

On the other hand, I really don’t want to bore you all with my day-to-day trials and tribulations (like how I spilled coffee on the way out the door, the dog peed on the carpet – again, the construction in the kitchen is going on forever, and I didn’t get the gig I really wanted) and I’m too private to talk about the really big trials and tribulations with more than a handful of people (unless, of course, I’m singing about them in front of a bunch of total strangers).

So maybe I’ll just go with a full disclosure here, and you can mentally refer to this every time you read one of my updates or other forms of shameless self-promotion: In addition to the wonderful gigs and opportunities and fun stuff going on in my life, please be aware that for every gig I got there were probably at least 10 I didn’t get; I’m struggling just like everyone else to find the balance between my musical endeavors, my day job, my family, my friends, and my own rejuvenation time; I probably need to go to the grocery store; I looked nothing like the picture at the top of my email at the time I was actually writing the email; I’m feeling guilty for not supporting my musician friends more but also recognizing there just isn’t enough time to attend every gig out there; and the dog probably just peed on the carpet – again.

Stuckey's Pecan Log Rolls - The Journey vs. the Destination 

I’ve been told, and I’ve even told others, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” I’ve been thinking about that lately and wondering – Am I the only one who gets really tired of the journey sometimes? Sure, there are always things to appreciate if we look hard enough. But does anyone else ever find themselves asking, “Are we there yet?” And the even harder question: “Is everyone else going to get there before me?”

As I was busy sending out emails tonight, trying to line up gigs, my mind started rolling on this topic again. Sending out email after email that I know will likely not receive a response, I found myself silently cursing the journey and longing for the destination. That destination being… what? Where would the journey of writing, rehearsing, performing and self-promotion end? Maybe getting a particular gig? Selling a certain number of CDs? Being on the cover of the Rolling Stones? Ok, so that last one may count as a destination but it’s not one I’m willing to hold my breath for. So if there’s no real destination, and the journey is grinding me down, what mental gymnastics can I use to keep myself motivated? And why bother?

If you’ve heard my song “Headed Home” (and if not, WHY not? Listen to it for free here) you already know a little bit about our family vacations from Kansas to Colorado every summer when I was a kid. A part of those trips that didn’t quite make it into the song was stopping at Stuckey’s for a dose of straight sugar via their pecan log rolls. Yeah, they sound disgusting to me now, ranking right up there with deep-fried Twinkies, but at the time they meant a stop, a stretch, and something decadent in the middle of endless Kansas wheat fields. Not the destination, but something to look forward to along the way. I guess that’s what keeps me going musically – those breaks along the way that refuel me, like coming up with just the right lyric or having someone tell me how much my music has touched them.

This musical road trip is a long hard drive with no destination, and there are lots of other people on the same road making better time than me. I might as well be realistic about that. But it will be a lot more fun if I can remember to savor the pecan log rolls along the way.

What Martin Luther King, Jr., Did For Me 

I was at a Utah Jazz basketball game a couple of nights ago when at halftime, in honor of upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, they showed video clips of some of the (Black) Jazz players talking about how Dr. King had changed their lives. Today, as I listened to the "I Have A Dream" speech on the radio, I suddenly realized what Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement did for (White) me.

The tireless work of so many allowed me to grow up in a world where racism wasn't tolerated. Sure, it's still alive and well and can be found in every corner of the globe. But in my family, things changed drastically during my parents' generation so that by the time I came along I was raised with a very different understanding of the relationship between Blacks and Whites than my parents grew up with.

Thanks to the bravery of those who challenged the acceptability, the norm of racism, I wasn't raised to believe my grandmother's Black maid should eat in the kitchen while the meal she had prepared was eaten by the White family in the dining room. As a little girl, my mom knew intuitively that this practice was wrong. But had the Civil Rights movement not become a part of her maturing conscience and consciousness, who knows if she would have been able to hold onto that child's natural moral compass. Would she have eventually believed the logic about segregation as it was explained to her by my well-intentioned grandma? Would she have then passed it on to me?

When I see or hear racist propoganda, I'm amazed at the capacity of the human heart to hate just because it's been taught to do so. Thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr., and others like him, I'm not obligated to carry on a tradition of fear and injustice. Because of their work, many of us have been able to grow up with less hate in our hearts than we might have otherwise. I will probably never fully understand the feelings Black people have when they thank Dr. King for his contribution to their lives. But I won't ever forget how much White people, how much I, have to be thankful for, as well.

Never thought I'd be a blogger, but here we go... 

Funny how songwriting is at once a connecting and an isolating endeavor. In the past I thought I could stay in touch with you, my fellow music lovers, via frequent facebook updates, but I found I was literally starting to think in sound bites. I’d be musing over some deep, complex idea that I wanted to share, and would find myself trying to condense it into 50 words or less, in the catchiest phrase possible. When I caught myself doing this, I realized it’s not a great way to train my brain when so much of what I do depends on the use of words. So I decided to start blogging in an effort to stay connected – really connected – to so many of you who share my love of music and critical thinking regarding the state of, well, just about everything. I’m also hoping it will get me out of the habit of breaking life into status-update-sized pieces! And putting exclamation points after everything! Please feel free to post responses to blogs or contact me privately if you don’t like putting your thoughts out there for the world to see. I plan to post something once a week or so. K, wud luv 2 c ur thoughts here! (oh, wait….)

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Header photo: Photography by Neets