(Part 2 of a 3 Part Series on the Creative Process…)
So anyway, the creation process — ahem, just to clarify, weâ€™re back to the creation of music here — is awesome. And after the creation process is completed, it then becomes a huge, rewarding bonus if other people ultimately like what you create. But, to be honest, that thrill of acceptance isnâ€™t nearly as great as the thrill of being in the zone, in the moment of creation, and knowing that what youâ€™re creating is exactly what your muse on its best day wants to create.
When I create exactly what I wanted to create — which was the case, for example, with both â€œThe Ballad Of Phineas McBoofâ€ and â€œMy Oysterâ€ — positive or negative responses from people donâ€™t really have much effect on my ultimate experience and relationship with it. I trust my artistic compass. Donâ€™t get me wrong — when people love it, Iâ€™m totally psyched, and when people hate it, Iâ€™m truly bummed. But deep down I always know exactly what I want to create, and I know itâ€™s only that most honest and pure muse that gives me the true unbridled bliss of creation.
I am completely self-indulgent that way. And I think any artist should be. No matter what you do, there will always be people who like what you create, there will always be people who think itâ€™s okay, and there will always be people who donâ€™t like it. So instead of trying to create something that I think most people will like — whether or not that taste is my natural muse — I prefer to just create what I like, and what I think is good, and then work as best I can to find the group of people who share that taste. Itâ€™s more fulfilling that way, and in this era of the web and independent niche marketing, itâ€™s entirely possible. Long live the web and the indie ethic!
My stuff is generally more orchestrated and demanding (and, for some people, ultimately more rewarding to the active listener) than typical rock or childrenâ€™s music. So I know there will be people who think itâ€™s just too much. This is the case with the music Iâ€™ve created for adults too. And thankfully, there is plenty of stuff out there for that crowd — more straightforward pop fare and the umpteenth very special cover version of â€œPuff The Magic Dragon.â€ My contributions to the genre are not necessary.
This is one of the reasons that I could never, ever have become a mainstream pop star, even though many people back in the previous decade asked me why I didnâ€™t just release more mainstream music. I like mainstream popular music, but my inner compass doesnâ€™t beckon me to go out there and create a bunch of it. Ultimately, I know that the most honest and fulfilling stuff for me to create is more layered than the more easy listening mainstream fare — itâ€™s funny, Iâ€™ve got scores of sketches and demos of those types of songs, but I can never quite get myself to sign my name off on a whole album full of â€˜em. Itâ€™s just not my bag, baby. But there are plenty of bands and artists out there who will do that for you, and can do it honestly and from their hearts. Itâ€™s what theyâ€™re about, and I am a big fan of many of them. Itâ€™s their true calling and their job; mine is something different.
What Iâ€™ve found, to my delight, is that music for kids and their families allows me to be a lot more creatively adventurous and still be perceived as acceptably mainstream. (Just barely, perhaps.) I could never do as adventurous a concept album as â€œThe Ballad Of Phineas McBoofâ€ for the pop/rock market and be considered even remotely mainstream. Whereâ€™s the radio format? Whatâ€™s the genre? How can we sell millions of copies of this to the required number of targeted young adults and teens who know what they want and want what they know? In short…
(Concluded next week…)