06/07/20 10:33 Filed in: Personal
I feel like I'm outside the outside. Maybe because I'm in my mid-40s, or because I've been in therapy, I've been examining my past from various angles. Recently I've been having Gen X nostalgia. I'm halfway through a book by Jeff Gordinier called X Saves The World: How Generation X Got The Shaft But Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking. I do identify strongly with most of what I've read so far. I'm on the young end of Gen X so I missed some of the experiences others had, but I'm there. And as is mentioned in the book, in many ways X is a mindset, not an age. The game was rigged from the start and I lost before I even knew I was playing.
Gen X is much smaller than the boomers or millennials to either side. We were too late to have careers like our parents, and we were too old to have the advantages of being natives to the information age. We are outsiders, both by choice and by circumstance. The world didn't open up like a fresh sunrise that the boomers got, and when we looked over the fence we decided we didn't really want to put up a fight for the rat race anyway. I've always felt like I'd prefer being a mad scientist tinkering away in my lab rather than play the Gordon Gecko game. But that's not what America wants. Bogus.
However, there is one aspect consistently covered by writers on Gen X that bugs me - music. Something inextricably linked to Gen X, and really to every generation, but thanks to MTV Gen X music was even more saturating. Music is a shorthand, Cliff's notes way of framing the attitudes of a generation. And in the coverage of the music makes me even more of an outsider. Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is often held as the moment Gen X hit the mainstream, and I think that's accurate. Though I was never much of a Nirvana fan, I do still listen to Soundgarden and Alice in Chains. But I feel like I'm at risk of loosing my X member card if I'm not a super fan of The Pixies, The Cocteau Twins, and Siouxie and The Banshees. In fact, aside from Nirvana, many authors I've read just give passing mention to the rest of the grunge movement. I just never clicked with the "alternative rock" sound that older X-ers grew up with. I didn't have older siblings and I lived in the great lakes region where trends slowly drifted in from the coasts. I guess it was over by the time it started. Sometimes I feel like the younger sibling of X that mom and dad made X drag along to the beach with her friends.
I'm an X-er, but I'm also a metalhead and a guitarist. That's the music I chose as mine when I hit my early teens. Iron Maiden, Rush, Metallica, Queensryche, the Vai/Satriani/Malmsteen school of shredders, that's my musical home base. Gordinier even singles out Queensryche as a counterpoint for what was on top of the charts when Nirvana broke. So, music, one of the most significant badges worn on the X uniform, marks me as outside that group, too. Maybe some metal is totally in the X wheelhouse, but none of the self appointed spokes-authors for the generation see fit to talk about it. Maybe it's not pretentious enough. It's hard to tell other people you're cooler than they are if you write about metal. Works with The Cure, not so much with Cannibal Corpse.
But, as a metalhead I'm not totally on that train either. Metal fans are a wide and usually welcoming group, but I've never really 'lived' like a metalhead. I don't do the lifestyle. I skimmed around in metal and landed in prog rock and prog metal. Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Echolyn, Seiges Even. Even further outside. Eventually this not-quite-metalhead X-er went to college and studied jazz and classical guitar. A niche of a niche of a niche. Outside the outside the outside. Oh well, whatever, nevermind.
04/10/16 10:24 Filed in: Personal
I turned 40. I've never been much concerned with aging, but this really affected me. Maybe because I assumed it wouldn't. I'm still moving forward, but I've had fairly frequent bouts of anxiety and sleepless nights. I've never feared death, I've feared not being done. I realize now one is never done and perhaps I actually have a very intense fear of death.
I can't really complain about aging and that's kind of a pain. All but one of my friends are older than me, so I just get the "yep, preachin' to the choir" or "Ha, just wait till you're 50." They aren't much help. I'm sure some things have been changing for me slowly for a while, but I also feel like I hit 40 and my warranty ran out. Things seem to just be breaking all the time now.
My life has never and will have a normal path. School, job, family, career promotions, retirement. Upon crossing 40 I've now really been forced to adjust my thinking, what does it mean to be an adult without the mile markers most people measure their lives by?
19/08/16 09:32 Filed in: music
Someone on LinkedIn recently put out a call for help with a project and I volunteered. The project was a question asking for advice to young musicians. This is what I wrote:
Don't be afraid to take chances when you're young. When you're 20 and have the energy and support at home is the time to load up your car and tour on the cheap playing everywhere you can, or travel the world, or go to college far from home (but take care of your health). By the time you're 40 life has a way of making huge changes more difficult, less likely, but maybe not impossible. I certainly can't stay up until 5am like I used to.
Be excellent in your craft. Practice with intent. Practice the hard stuff. If the only tool you have is a hammer, you'll treat every problem like a nail. If you're a rock guitarist, study some jazz. If you're a singer, learn an instrument. If your'e a trumpet player, learn some drums. Never stop learning.
Get a good job so you can can afford to pursue your own music. Yes, not the dreamy answer many want to hear, but honest. Only a small fraction of musicians get rich and famous with their original music, and it's always been that way. Having lived through the rise of the internet and the disruption of Napster, it's harder than ever to 'make a living' at music. It is, however, easier than ever, to make music. Do it because you love it, because your muse demands it. Be you and make no compromise, but be prepared for rejection, not everyone will like what you are doing. If unleashing your own creativity is important enough to you, you will weather the rejection and will know that you are the only person who can make your music.
Sometimes I think it's part of the human condition that we cannot take the advice about life we should when we are young. All that stuff your parents and grandparents told you, yeah, it's mostly true. But you won't listen when you're 20. It would be good if you did, but there's just something about us that insists we live through it before we understand it.