inspiration


One of my very favorite under-the-radar blogs, Why Advertising Sucks, posted a fantastic essay on Pride and Ego this morning.

It’s a bit of wonderful writing (which is nothing new for them), and their point is absolutely spot on. It’s a fine line to walk, pride versus ego, and one that requires vigilance and discipline… two things also needed for any kind of longevity in the music business (or any creative endeavor).

Be good people.

Be proud.

Don’t be a dick, though… confidence, not arrogance.

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A great post on the craft of songwriting : Starting Badly, by my friend Max (his band Superchick was Steve Lilywhite’s first signing as head of Columbia Records).

My favorite section is his closing :

I believe it was Gene Simmons who said, that he writes 100 songs, out of those, he likes 10 which he plays for other people. Out of those, they only like 1. So his ratio is 100 to 1. I understand that. Music does not flow from my fingers like lightning from a God, rather music for me is born in the fields of labor where I turn over rocks and rocks and rocks looking for coal that can be forged into diamonds. When you hear one of my songs on TV, it is the product of many creative people and much time and sweat and tears. I write bad music, I really do, but if you write enough bad songs, magic is bound to happen.

Don’t wait to be good, start now. Give yourself permission to make bad art.

Don’t wait to be “good” (whatever that is, anyway)… start now.

Thanks, Max.

Why was I inspired by this post at c|net, of all places?

Because it absolutely gets it right… whether you’re more comfortable living on the razor’s edge and taking chances, or by sitting back and playing it safe, the only path through life and a career is one that is true for you.

Some people were meant to lead, some were meant to follow. It doesn’t make one superior or inferior to the other. At one point in my life I referred to that dynamic as the difference between queen bees and worker bees, and the person with whom I was talking got quite offended. I think I now have a better understanding of why my metaphor wasn’t taken in the spirit it was meant, but that story from my past has been on my mind ever since – over 20 years!

A little snippet from Tobek’s fine article :

This reminds me of a chapter of the Tao Teh Ching by Lao Tzu:

He who knows men is clever
He who knows himself has insight
He who conquers men has force
He who conquers himself is truly strong

mervgriffin_100px.jpgMerv Griffin passed away this week at the age of 82 (nice video obit at CNN). When I review everything he’s accomplished in those eight decades, I wonder how the man ever slept.

In addition to being an actor, singer, and television host, he found a myriad creative ways to be successful in the entertainment world as well as the business world at large.

He not only dreamed up two of the most ridiculously profitable game shows of all time – Jeopardy and Wheel Of Fortune – his vast empire included everything from horse breeding and gambling to real estate and television production.

Music was also in his heart – he composed the theme song for Jeopardy, a little ditty that had earned him “close to 60 or 70 million.”

His story inspires me to stay creative, to keep pushing my boundaries, to keep trying new things.

A man who is still quite alive and relevant, Quincy Jones is someone who hasn’t let his age put a damper on his creative demons.

quincyjones_100px.jpgOne of the masters of music production of all time, Q is still pushing, still engaged in the present, still expanding his influence and reach.

The Man Himself is offering video podcasts… giving us mere mortals a glimpse behind the scenes of some of the most successful albums of all time (check out his myspace page for more, or read more about it at CNet).

He’s even gotten involved in my little niche of the music world, with a production music library of his own.

We’re given such precious few days in this life. All of us watch history passing by – very few of us make history. Take a cue from these extraordinary people and aim a little higher than maybe you have been this week.

grinderman-500.jpg

For the past 10 years or so, Nick Cave turned his raucous career into quiet, beautiful (albeit dark) ballads. It’s sort of a typical phase of an artist growing old and mellowing out. I followed for awhile, and then drifted away, as I’ve still got a taste for the raucous. During this 10 year phase, I saw him on Letterman a few times, at a grand piano, telling a story I doubted the tens of millions of viewers were likely to get, or be interested in. Nonetheless, his songwriting was inspiring to me, and I trusted everything he did. I just stopped listening.

Then, along comes 2007, Cave grows a fu-manchu moustache, and starts a garage punk band called Grinderman. It is one of the greatest rock and roll albums I’ve heard in a long time, capturing the energy of his early Birthday Party stuff, as well as highlights of The Bad Seeds peak moments of intensity. Pleasantly brutal stuff, and a total surprise for him to whip this out after a decade of winding down. Genius. I’m listening again.

Who of us will have the energy for this level of reinvention when we’re the age of Mr. Cave? Who of us even has it now?

It was 30 years ago today that the world’s first “practical” personal computer went on sale.

On June 5, 1977, Apple Computer released the Apple II.

A watershed event in the history of computing, the history of creativity – hell, even in plain ol’ history – Wozniak and Jobs enabled millions of us computer geeks to have an available outlet for our creativity.

I remember being so jealous of my friends with Apple Computers.  We were stuck with a TI-99/4a.  We didn’t even have an Atari to play games on.  Of course, all of that changed with the advent of the Macintosh (which our family’s computing life centered around from the first 128k model), but that’s a different anniversary.

For today, congratulations Apple!  And keep rocking Wall Street!!

This has to be mentioned, as it was a landmark event in the history of creativity.

40 years ago today, The Beatles released arguably the most respected collection of songs of all time, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Credit to Tom Peters blog for a full post on the topic (another good source for creative solutions to problems we face in business every day, whether it’s the music business or any other).

UPDATE : IGuessI’mFloating gets it right, too… and deserves props, per usual.

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