Recently, I was asked for my music resume. I'd never before had such a request. So I sat down and started jotting down all the various musical highlights and projects in my life. I was 14 years old when the music bug bit. I was in bands in high school and, other than my time in the Air Force, I've been playing music pretty much since then.
I played guitar and sang. I played various flutes. A number of times I found myself without an instrument or money, and would borrow somebody's guitar and hit the streets, playing and singing whatever handful of songs I knew at the time, and conjure up enough money to keep me from becoming a potential Jean Valjean (though I'd already been in jail, it was for reefer, not stealing food).
For much of my life, I thought of myself as a writer who played music. I always believed that, despite my background, lack of education, etc., my writing would "catch on" and I'd be transported to Olympus and join the other immortals of the pen. My reward for the years of privation would be oodles of money and beautiful lovers.
Since the name of this blog is what it is, it's pretty clear that didn't happen. Oh, I'm still scribbling away. It's gotten tougher as the money has dwindled for all writers but those Olympian few and anyone who writes for a Conde Nast publication. I still send my plays out to theaters, for whatever that's worth.
Nowadays, I don't go straight to my writing desk when I get up. First I practice for two or three hours. I still write every day but it's what I want when I want. Sometimes a blog post feels like enough for a day, even though I've got a new musical and a new dramatic monologue chugging along, as well as a novel.
I recently ran into a TV producer when I was playing music at a local boite and he was looking for a certain type of song. I told him I had something that might work but there was a part of it that was political and it might need some reworking. I quickly added that I'm very flexible. He laugbhed and said that, at our age, flexible usually means we've been beaten down. Ain't that the truth?
My point, though, is that it's all okay with me. I'm a musician. I'm a working class bohemian. Fortunately I've got an awesome music playing partner in JJ Deluxe. We get out there and play tunes up and down the river. We play in restaurants and pubs at night and by day we're happy to go into retirement homes and play for the folks there. They love what we do. They know and love a lot of the old tunes. I'm not going to get rich doing it. But I'm not going to starve to death either.
So, how did I become a musician? It's irrelevant. Somewhere along the line music was all that was left.