view from my fire escape shot on film
I released "April" on all streaming platforms and online stores yesterday. The response on social media was surprising, over-stimulating, and very much appreciated. In the same breath, I can admit two truths which feel juxtaposed: I am very proud of April and I needed to write it, and in the grand scheme of things, it lacks very much the kind of professional production I am accustom to, as well as a level of songwriting maturity many of my songs have achieved. In the long term, I would like for my songs to feel more on par with artists I listen to and admire. "April" is too long, one dimensional, and rough around the edges for my liking, and again, simultaneously, there exists in me a real pride and gratitude. Nevertheless, it had it's moment yesterday on Instagram. A moment which is surely gone forever. I spent several hours posting about the release and spam texting folks imploring them to share the song with friends and on socials. (I don't feel the least bit embarrassed by this last admission. It takes what it takes.). I know full well that some of these recipients must have been wildly unimpressed with the song, probably for the reasons I've listed already.
This morning, I woke up late and scrolled the various feeds on my phone for about half an hour, before teasing myself out loud, "My god, could you survive for one second without your phone?!". I left my phone at home and walked to the park to read and enjoy the nice weather. My spirits lifted immediately. I felt present and a deep gratitude for life. A very small dog kept approaching me for ear scratches, pets and pats. As far as I'm concerned, the dog was a walking bundle of joy and sweetness. I took a break from reading to enjoy a smoke at the edge of Grace Cathedral Park, and began to offer a prayer to Whomever. I thanked Whomever for birds and humans, for the sunshine, and for trials and tribulations which add dimension, wisdom, and contrast to this life. I read a few more pages and walked home.
Today, I feel I'm grasping some kind of healthy perspective. It's okay to be where I am, and for all my striving, I can acknowledge that material wealth and career success are fairly meaningless. Insomuch as we are spinning on a rock in space constantly reckoning with our own mortality until indeed we die. At the same time there is both merit and meaning in creating, existing, and being in relationship with one another. After all, it is only human to get lost in our game. This perspective, however flawed it may be, is helpful when I contemplate my own creative works and the life I hope they will offer me. The work and it's notoriety are two very separate things, and at same time, it would be impossible and maybe even unnatural to posture myself after this acknowledgment. The mere inclination or desire to create in the first place is a miracle born of consciousness. And whatever the creator produces is immensely valuable because they willed it. The measuring of artistic works in society is designed by our own collective aesthetic brought about through time and power and influence (and I'm sure many more variables). When art meets criticism and markets, the temptation is to judge its inherent value. Again, this seems only natural. And in some ways, this drives creators to improve upon their craft in order to remain competitive and relevant. All of this to say, I do believe there is an enormous distinction between the value of an art work and the success of an artwork when it is submitted to the public. Why is this important? Because it puts forth a question. Is my art less valuable if it does not reach a certain number of consumers? Are my songs less worthwhile if they do not appear on Pitchfork or drive millions of Spotify streams? If a piece of art feels immature, less palatable, or incomplete based on society's measuring stick, is that really so? I will conclude with this: The value of any work of art must be equal to every other work of art. It's impact on pop culture, it's status, and it's monetary value is our collective measuring stick and nothing else. In this way, we can reason that all creative pursuits are equally valuable and that any impression it leaves on society (or doesn't) is a separate conversation.
I did not plan on submitting a thesis on art when I sat down, and I'm sure this thesis is incredibly flawed and subject to change.
Thank you to all of you who listened to the new tune, and for the kindness and support you offered yesterday. Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.
And remember: before proclaiming that something is objectively bad (whatever that means), consider that maybe it's just not for you.