I predict hearing the phone ring as soon as my parents, husband, or a bestie reads this blog title. They’ll say; “You DID make it, it just doesn’t look the way you expected it to.” It’s actually endearing. But more importantly, it’s a reminder of the peace I have made with the idea of what success looks and feels like. And that really is the crux of it all. I can accept that my life turned out differently than I had hoped, but knowing that those who love me feel the ache—that’s what hurts the most.
I ended the workday yesterday in a shitty mood. Everything I tried to get done was challenged by roadblocks. I could feel my frustration and blood pressure rising (I’m ok Momma. Please stop worrying. I love you.). I finally abandoned ship and ran errands. As I drove, my anxiety lifted and I felt myself returning to a reasonable perspective. When I was asked how I was doing at Trader Joe’s, I shocked myself when I enthusiastically responded “Great! How are you?” Huh?!… I decided to go with it.
Sadly, back on the road, my anger built again as no one would let me merge while trying to get back home. Out of the blue my iPhone, which was on shuffle, played an old song I co-wrote with my friend, former housemate, former recording studio partner John Tabaccco. I started to smile. Then I laughed. And then I cried. I remembered the joy of writing that song and could feel the spirit emanate from the recording.
In that moment I realized the answer to the inevitable “WHY?” which tortures me. “WHY didn’t I make it?”.
This random song that surprised me also triggered the truth; I never made it because I refused to discipline myself and fit it into a genre-box.
Ironically, I know I have a good head for business. I understand the mechanics required to create success; offer a solid product, connect with an audience, relentlessly market and promote oneself. I have never been afraid of hard work. I put in the hours, the years. I just wasn’t willing to stick to a theme.
Well, that’s not entirely true…
I did try to fit myself into a box that I could live with many times throughout my career. I dressed like Madonna and wrote to drum grooves to become what was referred to as a dance artist early on. During the whole angst-ridden female singer/songwriter phase of the 90’s I cut my wrists to bleed onto my CDs for everyone to experience. Years later after I turned 40, I decide that folk was the only genre of music that allowed women to age. I transformed myself into a folk artist, or at least I tried to. I couldn’t help myself. I had to throw in a jazz-infused song, an homage to the Beatles, and a sweetly twisted tune ala Burt Bacharach on my first solo folk album.
I wasn’t fooling anyone, especially not myself. I tried to force myself to be disciplined and create a coherent sound, my inner muse fought back.
Back to the impetus of this story—this song reminded me of why I started writing music; to feel good. For me, writing feels decadent. It feels freeing. This song, in particular, is, for lack of a better word, FUN. Was it pop’ish, rock’ish, weird’ish? Sure, it was all of those things. Could I hear it on the radio? Well, I could, but I’m not a radio programmer or a DJ. Does it even matter?
I ask that question because I do wonder if there are others out there like myself who want their playlist to be diverse, surprising and mysterious? I guess there are, because to this day I retain “Lovely Listeners” who are willing to go on the journey with me, and who forgive my musical digressions.
And therein lies the true success. It may not equate to riches, but it does provide richness to my life. It is what sustains me because as much as I’d love to believe that I write to write, I do care that somebody hears it.
Do I still yearn for that moment when I can say, “I made it”? I’d be lying if I said there isn’t a part of my soul that still holds out hope for that one hit that will allow me to leave an imprint on this planet. Who knows? Maybe all this music travels past our atmosphere throughout the universe. And maybe there’s a planet out there where my music and I make sense.
What matters to me is that I’ve remained musically honest and I’ve found my Lovely Listeners who like what I do. That is my version of making it…until I write that hit one day 😉
Me & JT (John Tabacco) in the studio circa 1995. Photo by: Sirka Louca
Wanna learn more about me? You can here: www.MarciGeller.com