So, you want to be famous?
I shared that dream. For nearly two decades I composed literally thousands of pieces of music in an effort to become a famous artist. I tried using new ideas. I tried top notch production techniques.
I never really sacrificed my muse to the notion, but I did appear on several monied releases, as well as a set of compilations and other projects that were large and involved lots of press.
In 2017, I abandoned my main music projects, and in 2018, I essentially retired from music. I did this having achieved some notoriety in certain circles, but without having become famous from music.
My desire to be well-known gradually subsided over the years. I began focusing on the art itself. I tried hard to find and maintain my own style, my own voice. When I retired, I felt satisfied, in spite of my lack of success– I felt that I had achieved great things in the aesthetics department, and that the efforts were worth the time and energy spent.
In my opinion, fame– particularly fame in music– is largely fictitious. The rock and roll lifestyle is something that was invented. Very few people ever could or would live that lifestyle. Those who do would come face to face with risks such as chemical dependency, exhaustion, and exposure to a possibly dangerous public.
The dream of rock and roll seems to suggest that one should master a musical instrument, and leave home at a young age. The artist is to meet a number of people involved with music– other artists, an agent, and so forth. A constant process of recording and touring is to begin, and great amounts of addictive substances and sex are to be had.
This is 2018, not 1950, and I trust that people realize that living for pleasure has its downsides. There was never a high without a low, that is just human nature. It’s how the mind and body work. And sure, sex with groupies sounds fun. How about S.T.D.s, some perhaps being deadly? The difficulty of committing to a spouse? The hardships of raising children while on tour? Not to mention the exhaustion that could come from always being on the road making music.
I recently watched a recording of Elvis Presley singing “Suspicious Minds”, during one of his later tours. When he hit the high note, he seemed to be appealing to us (and perhaps to his wife Priscilla), to trust him, to believe in him. He was an honest man, and did not want to go on living in a shadow of suspicion.
The effect of that piece was somehow lost knowing Elvis’ true lifestyle. In fact, meditating on the life and death of “The King” provides an excellent study for why a person would never, really ever want to be famous.
As for myself, I remain “Mystified”– a successful netlabel artist. I am known by some, largely not by others. As a result, I can easily walk out of the front door of my modest, affordable home, and not get mobbed by a crowd of people holding cameras or shouting my name.
I can tweet without causing ridiculous controversies.
Best yet, I can work a steady, fulfilling career that helps people, and come home to my wife and our two cats, where I can peacefully drift off into sleep.
You ask about fame? You can have it. I will take security and fulfillment anytime.