This year my mother turned 93. Besides having a full career as a university administer and raising 3 sons, sometimes as a single parent, she aspired to be a concert pianist and a painter. She pursued music hard and furiously until she reached 40, and attained a high level of proficiency that included advanced piano concertos, jazz transcriptions and Chopin. She then made a choice, and focused on painting and drawing and produced an amazing amount of original oils and watercolors that included abstracts, landscapes and figures. She shared them with family and friends and was forever modest about her talent and her output. Clearly the joy was in the doing. Eventually many of these were discarded and only the favorites survive as heirlooms and testimony to her passion. I have no recordings of her playing the piano.
I get the same joy from playing and writing music. Most of my original music was created as themes and soundtracks for educational and documentary television shows. Some of them survive in the collections of the NFB but outside of my personal collection, there were hundreds of shows that were destroyed with the passing of the networks and the producers that hired me to do them.
So what does this have to do with my self produced CD Good Fair World? Everything. Why bother publishing or mass producing anything if nobody is going to see it? Of the 1000 copies I made in 2008, I still have 600 and the format now fading fast. Cars still have CD players, but smartphones and cloud services now provide most of our music and it won't be long before CD's disappear all together.
I knew that would happen, and so I didn't invest much money or time into the production of the music- so arguably it would have done better if I'd put $20K into studio musicians and another $10K on promotion. But I wanted to see how well the songs would do by themselves with just me singing them and playing the piano, so the project only took 3 days to record, and I had it professionally mastered before putting it out there. I also put in on itunes where it will be presumably offered forever, or at least until the death of Apple and MP3 files.
But really, very few people have heard it in spite of my best efforts to tell people about it and use social media and live touring to help it along. Does it suck? Do I suck? Nobody who actually has heard it has ever told me that. I know there are better singers and better song writers than me but that is not the issue. I am a tree falling alone in the woods wondering if I exist. And I can't help but compare my urge to be heard and be recognized to my mother's journey that was completely free of such vanity.
So I shall be content with the joy of being able to play and compose and write and not complain about anything. If my melodies and words are meant to be heard than so be it. If they pass into oblivion I shall not consider them failures. But if you do read this, please check out my songs on itunes and drop me a line. I'd love to know what you think of them.