is making music only for the young?

An elliott live video that I hadn’t seen before popped up on youtube today. Dated 1998, it really made me think about how cool it is that these guys had such proficiency at what they were doing at a relatively young age. ..and not only that, but they had also gone a long way to develop their own artistic style – I was going to say art form, but rock music wasn’t new, and there was a whole community even in just their geography.. but still, what they were doing had some new elements. I think that’s got to be a really fulfilling situation to be in. Very self directed.

it’s alright i’ve already made my dream

This led me into a line of thought that I’ve been dealing with lately.. It’s hard to do music when you get older. Your musical cohorts move on to more responsible pursuits. You yourself have to try and balance those responsibilities with your desire to create. I think maybe the most heavy part of that as I watch this video is that the act of creating music (and maybe even caring about music at all) takes on a perception of unimportance or being something for “kids”.

It may have something to do with the idea that making a living as a musician is kind of an all or nothing situation. You are a starving artist, or you are famous and rich. Looking back on it and knowing what I know now about “the real world”, I don’t think “straight jobs” are really that different. I think about people I know who struggle to make ends meet financially, and those that are making a lot of money, and while there are a few that I could say “yeah, they totally got what their intelligence/work ethic dictated”, most seem to be pretty random. Right place at the right time, etc.

Also, I keep thinking about how being in a band (at least the experiences I’ve had) aren’t that much different than working in the field of design. Overall success of what you make is judged in kind of the same way – how well it’s received, how much money you make selling it. The collaborative process is similar – everyone brings something to the table and you knock it around until everyone is happy. Logistics, marketing, etc. If anything, I think that being in a band is better preparation for a job than the structured education most folks go through.

But anyway, I guess I’ve become more aware of adult musicians. Especially at the not-really-famous level, and it’s kind of inspiring. David Bazan, Ted Leo, and even my friend Billy Peake (go check out his band – bicentennial bear) are all my age or older and still out doing it. David and Ted seem to be able to make a living at it, and Billy is balancing it with a day job. I’m still impressed and motivated by the fact that they keep doing it.

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