Sunday, February 16, 2014
Still Hanging In
Yes, a music degree can help you to teach (done that, and still do), perform (did that too- though, to be honest, I am not crazy about doing too much of it... though I do), compose (yes...in the last 4 months I have composed about 5 hours of music. Not for free, either). And if all goes as planned I should be able to avoid the die in poverty thing. (A certain financial institution almost made that happen, but I managed to dodge that bullet thankyouverymuch. I hope their penises fall off spontaneously.)
So here I am still at it. And that, dahlings, is the key to whatever success I enjoy. I am a stubborn bastard.
I am approaching my "Freedom 55" birthday. That term, for you non-Canucks, comes from an advertisement a number of years ago promising Financial Freedom to do whatever you wanted to do without that pesky requirement of actually working for a living. You know...you invest so wisely (with London Life- who knew insurance was that sexy!) that you are playing shuffleboard in some resort, your Depends never leaking and your Polydent sticking fast to your gums. Indeed, you can now live the next 35 years doing absolutely nothing of value and live your days in a constant state of vacation!
I'd rather shoot myself.
You see, when I win the lottery (I am expecting to do so in the next week or 2...you heard it here first) I am not going going to quit anything. I am going to do exactly what I am currently doing. Though I might have a couple of pieces of new gear. Freedom 55 was likely a myth in 1989, and it still is today. And I already had the pleasure of telling the aforementioned financial institution to shove their bank up their ass- one branch at a time. I was, however, much more genteel about it. I have too much fucking class to do otherwise. It was better than retiring. Or almost.
And as I have told a number of my friends and colleagues of the musical persuasion: why would you want to retire? And retire from what? Might be different if you were a dentist. Or a Claims Adjustor. Or a proctologist. How many of them might be inspired to become musicians once they change careers? Indeed, one should do what one has always wanted to do before you are too dead to do it.
I was contemplating this great wisdom last week when I got a call from my old friend Dutch Robinson. He has written and recorded a new song in tribute to the late Pete Seeger entitled, "I'm Glad I Knew You". Dutch and I go way back- 33 years to be precise- when I recorded him for the first time.
Those were interesting days. (Geek alert coming....) Dutch and I were among the first people to record using Linn Drums. We set them up in the control room and everyone eyed this mysterious box suspiciously. You could record a song without a drummer and still have kinda "real-sounding" drums. As an added bonus, this machine would not try and sleep with your girlfriend, would not get shit-faced before a gig and would only play fills you had programmed.
Anyway, my fave Dutch Robinson story is about a session we were doing quite late at night. There were a lot of people in the control room- none of whom I knew. Some were a little, uh, scary-looking. I, with my head down ignoring the more bizarre goings-on was recording a sax part when I accidentally erased part of his lead vocal.
Yes, kids, there was no CONTROL-Z in those days. It was gone. For good. I thought I was a dead man...how was I going to tell Dutch, to stand up to this seasoned, experienced industry professional (who is about a foot taller than me...) and inform him of what I have done.
So I did. "Um...Dutch...man I am really sorry...but...aww...I mean....I...uh...erased part of your vocal...I am, like...soooo fucking sorry..."
He shrugged and smiled. "Don't worry about it. I'll juss' go do it again."
And he did. Perfectly. One take. As usual.
So, yes, I have been a huge fan of this man ever since. A real class-act.
So, last week he asked me to mix "I'm Glad I Knew You" for him. It will be an honour and a thrill to work together again after all this time.
He is 68 years old. Still writing, recording and performing. He's singing and mentoring young artists- even in the Hip-Hop world. Yes, young people making music hanging on to his every word and benefiting from his incredible experience. He will be on tour with DRUM this summer before heading to tour the UK and Europe in the fall to support his new album.
So much for Freedom 55. So much for retiring, so much for quitting. I told him yesterday how much I admire that- his work and creative schedule is something we should all be doing. That's what "hanging-in" is all about.
Indeed, he will do what he loves until he can't anymore. He has always and will continue to "hang in". And so will I. There really isn't another option.