On Sunday December 22nd, I turn 60 years old. This birthday seems hard. I am not sure whether to be grateful that I have made it thus far or cheesed off that parts of my body including the bones in my spine are apparently falling apart right in front of my eyes, so to speak.
Having said that, there is one thing that being 60 allows you to feel you can do and that is to say what you mean and mean what you say.
I have become a recent disciple of the Bob Lefsetz Letters and now get them delivered to my in box on and off all week.
He writes largely about the music industry and can be scathing and near the knuckle. I do not agree with everything he writes, but why should I? I do not agree with some things my best friends say or write. But, how he writes is what inspires me. He is succinct, opinionated, and intelligent and often writes what I wish I had thought in the first place.
So, now I feel that if I made it to 60 I can at least allow myself the privilege of getting a few things off my chest.
Steve and I did a Kickstarter campaign last year, a campaign that resulted in the creation of ‘The Manhattan Blues Project’. It was very hard work, by that I mean the logistics and the feeling of obligation to give people what they had not only contributed to, but what they expected from a man they admired. We intended to produce the best possible end result, an album to be really proud of. An album that took blood, sweat and tears to create, an album that allowed Steve to move forward not backwards with both his playing and his production skills.
Some of the most rewarding things that have being said about that album is how good the audio quality is. How it is one experience to hear it through speakers and another to hear it through headphones. That is because Steve intended it that way. There are swirls and subtle shifts in the ambient experience that cannot be heard on most speakers but can be heard through headphones. It took years of dedication to the art of playing, arranging, composing and recording to reach that standard.
Kickstarter has gone from strength to strength, but along the way it has picked up a bit of negative press. I am referring to a few major movie projects and I guess I did wonder why the likes of Spike Jones needed to do a Kickstarter project in the first place. But, maybe movie making is the same as the music industry? Nobody wants to put their corporate hand in their pockets anymore.
My point is, that crowd funding has opened the door to artists being able to produce work that they truly believe in, it has enabled artists that slip through the musical corporate net (and Steve is surely one of those) to make some sort of a living out of what they do best.
He has had 40 years being part of world class recordings, 40 years weaving his extraordinary talent within tracks that without a doubt benefitted from his unique contribution. He is out on his own for better or for worse but he has me to watch his back.
I do hope that crowd funding, be it Kickstarter or any other form of collecting backing funds does not suffer abuse, that would be a travesty, as people will lose their trust and faith in the integrity of those who follow after us.
We are being nagged to death by requests for help, this charity, that charity, but how can one complain, it is so tough out there to be noticed, unless you are a cute, risqué young popstar. I am cynical in my old age, I watch very carefully whom I give my offerings to. As best as I can, I make sure that all the money I give goes to the needy and does not inadvertently line the pocket of yet another abuser of trust.
I am happier, more content, more creative and wackier than I remember being when I was 20 years old and that is perfect. I am a person who will listen more than talk and that takes a lifetime of practice.
So, bring it on 60! Here I am standing headlong into the winds of the future. Firm and strong despite my aches and pains, it could be far far worse. I would quite like to grow old rather disgracefully and will go down kicking and screaming that life is too short to be inattentive to the details, that is what makes being alive and creating art worthwhile.