This year will mark the fifth in my journey in music. When I look back at it all I can’t help but be cliche and wonder where all of it went. Five years blew by like I was standing still, and in some sense, I was.
Five years ago, when I began shaping this life I’ve chosen, I had no idea who I wanted to become or what I wanted to accomplish. Five years later and, although I have much more life to live, I have a stronger grasp on it all.
When I reflect on where I was 5 years ago and where I am now, not much has changed from the outside looking in. Other than a few more friends with names that are recognized by many more people than my own, I still struggle mightily to draw crowds and sell records. For some it all clicks early on. For others, we must wait.
Although the frustration of not being able to draw big numbers, and the endless stresses of how to keep a band on the road full time have worn me thin, I have never been more content with where I’m at as an artist. I’m writing songs and playing chords and creating melodies my eighteen year old self couldn’t have dreamed of. My band is better than ever and I feel I bring a strong contribution to that fact, unlike many of the artists I have encountered over this stretch.
Although the struggle seems endless, there are many things to be proud of. We have stood in front of huge crowds. Played with Pat Green and Ragweed and all the people I once longed to be so much like. I lived, wrote, and created another record. One which I’m extremely fond of.
This fifth year will carry yet another record that is already written, and I can honestly say it will blow the doors open and create endless possibilities for the artist I will become.
This rant tonight was triggered by two things:
1) This tweet from my friend Josh Abbott: “Is it just me or do the words “up and comer” really have to deal with perspective more than anything else?!”
2) A conversation I had the other evening with my dear friend Autumn Boukadakis about the struggles of trying to be heard in a place where everyone is screaming as loud as the can.
I will address each separately …
1) Two things make me cringe more than any. When you call me a “Texas Country Singer” or an “Up-and-comer”. This may read as a slap in the face to many who read this, but trust me when I say that is not my intention. Why I cringe when you call me a “Texas Country Singer” is for simple reasons. This scene was built on the sweat of all of those who didn’t want to be confined by the restrictions of a genre. When you put a label on what we do it immediately becomes commercialized. I understand it’s a business, but at the end of the day isn’t making great music more important than the bottom line? It shouldn’t matter what kind of music we make. I guess it’s more of putting the word “country” in that term. Let us do what we feel is natural at that moment in time and then judge it. I say all this because when I record and release my next record if you expect it to be “country” you may be sadly disappointed.
The other makes me cringe because I’ve been doing this for five years. I realize that I’m am unknown to 97.3% of people who are fans of this scene, but when was the last time you held the same “job” for five years? It’s practically a career now and hopefully will continue to be for many more half decades. It is all about perspective. Just because you haven’t heard of me doesn’t mean this is my first rodeo. I’m working on record number three. I don’t know many who make it that far. I feel extremely grateful that enough people have believed in me to get me to this point, but someone can erase all of that pride and all of the sense of accomplishment I hold with one phrase, “up-and-comer”.
2) The second trigger came last Saturday after one of my many “talk me off of the ledge” conversations with a close friend. The victim of the late night text session this time, Autumn Boukadakis.
(Side Note: We are not actually married … Not yet anyway.)
The majority of this five year roller coaster has been spent trying to stand out in a crowd. I’ve learned one thing though … In time you find a way to move a little bit closer to getting to that point. I have found it extremely difficult to find a voice that will be heard by many. It seems, at times, that my songs and the words fall upon deaf ears. This has almost led me to the point of no return multiple times along the way. However, every time I get close enough to jump someone like Autumn or Donovan Dodd talks me back into toughing it out. In the end something always works out.
Even with all the pain and regret and dark periods that seem to never end, it’s been a beautiful five years. I wouldn’t trade it for any college scholarship I turned down. Here’s to another 5 and then the 20 to follow … BD PS: Best thing to happen to me in these last five years is having other songwriters enjoy what I do. I’m not sure there is any greater feeling than the acceptance of your peers.
So here’s to another 5 years … and 20 more after that.
PS The best thing about the last five years has been gaining the acceptance of other songwriter’s. People I cherish and hold close to my own heart. Nothing has been sweeter than that.