Someone recently brought up an interesting point as they left a comment on one of my YouTube videos. They argued that my talent wasn't very rare, and that everything I've done has already sorta been done before--that I'm not really pushing any boundaries or doing anything new. Tone is often lost or misconstrued over the internet, but it seemed to me that the person leaving the comment was insinuating that I was somehow "less" of an artist, or not quite deserving of praise, simply because I wasn't pushing some sort of boundary with the music I made.
I have a pretty thick skin, but I'll admit that negative comments bother me. They bother every artist. We do what we do to make others happy, and if we fail in that endeavor, it makes us feel bad. Any artist who denies that is either lying, or not in it for the right reasons (in my opinion). That being said, the guy's comment on my YouTube video... kinda bothered me. And, it got me thinking about why I make music, and what we "should" be doing as musicians.
I'm not making music to change the world. I'm not. I'm not trying to progress the art of songwriting ... I'm not trying to be the next Bach, or Led Zeppelin, or the next John Lennon, or Stephen Sondheim. I'm not trying to "one-up" everyone else, and I'm not trying to be unique, or stand out in any particular fashion, or create something so mind-boggling and amazing that it stops the Earth from turning. I just want to make good, fun music that kids and adults alike can enjoy and smile to. I'm really not trying to make high art. I'm not trying to push the boundaries. I just want to make nice tunes.
Don't get me wrong. I work hard. Very hard. I've been doing this, thanklessly, by myself, busting my ass, for the past 9 years. I take my craft very seriously, and I never deliver a product or finish a project that I'm not satisfied with, or that I feel I've put less than 110% of my efforts into. With every song I make, I focus on doing a better job than I, personally, have ever done before. I'm not trying to be better than everyone else. I'm just trying to improve myself, because you guys deserve the best that I can give.
But I'm not going to kill myself trying to write the next White Album. It's just not going to happen. And you know what? I'm okay with that.
I kinda think we should all be okay with that. There is a place for artists who want to make simple art that people can simply... enjoy.
If someone wants to paint normal, easy paintings, without trying to push the envelope and be the next Rembrandt, then by Celestia, s/he should do just that. If it brings someone else and/or themselves some happiness, then who the hell are we to say that it's somehow "less" of an art than what others create? Just because we're not showing off... just because we're not competing with everyone else... just because we're not trying to "progress our art"... does that somehow make us "less" of an artist?
I'll admit that I'm a pop musician. I make jazz, dubstep, bluegrass, Celtic, and rock music, sure--but I'm a pop musician at heart. Why? I enjoy writing simple, accessible songs that people easily and quickly identify with. I compose "meat-and-potatoes" music. It's simple, it's not cryptic, and it's easy to "get". And, hopefully, it's fun and entertaining. I just want to bring a smile to someone's face with my art. After they smile, they can move on with their lives and hopefully have a brighter day.
That's seriously all I'm going for. Is that a bad thing? Am I less of an artist for having such lowly aspirations as to only hope to make someone happy?
There will always be guitarists, painters, writers, poets, and sculptors who try to change the world, or at least, the art world with their masterpieces. There will always be people who push themselves beyond what others have ever reached for, attempting to progress art and humanity, or even "save" it.
I'm not one of those people. I'm not gonna kill myself trying to write a song that no one else has ever written, and I'm not going to try to "say" something that no one else has ever said. How would people relate to that? That's not what I'm aiming for. I want to tell people about the emotions that I feel. If people relate to it, or if it's something that others have already written about, I'm okay with that. It just means that my emotions are universal, and that I'm not alone. Sometimes that's comforting... for the composer and the listener alike.
Again, I usually have thick skin. This sort of thing doesn't normally bother me. I'm not trying to be better than Kurt Cobain or Neil Young. I just want to be Andy Stein. Andy wants to make people smile with fun, well crafted, clever and entertaining songs. Am I less of an artist because of this? Should I feel bad that I'm not pushing the envelope?
Are we supposed to tell artists what they "should" create? "Should" all artists be pushing boundaries and doing more than the last person? Or should artists be allowed to do whatever makes them and the people around them happy? Or better yet, why can't we have both? Maybe the idea of simply making someone smile is enough of a revolution in the art world to count as being progressive and bold.
You can change the world by painting the Sistine Chapel... or you can change someone's world by making them happy and painting them a flower.
Either way... just paint.
love to you all,