Retiring A Dream


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When I was 17 of age, I had big dreams. I would sit in front of a self-built home stereo that a friend of mine had sold me for little money and practiced guitar to records of Pink Floyd, Kansas, Jimi Hendrix, and later also Toto, Steely Dan, Anita Baker, Chaka Khan, Earth, Wind & Fire, George Benson and many more. Each time I had been able to set aside enough money from temporary jobs, gigs or summer jobs in order to afford myself another album – then some 20 Deutschmark on average, sometimes 15,- when on sale -, I’d ask a friend who was in the possession of both a driving license and a car and who lived in the next bigger city to get me the desired vinyl and have it ready for me to pick up on the weekend. You can’t call the meager number of records a collection I might have been building, but by the end of High School I landed at a few dozen Vinyls of only those ones, I really found worthwhile having. I’d bootleg the rest by recording cassette tapes of vinyls that friends had. To my knowledge, noone thought of something like digital music or devices being able to hold and play back the equivalent of an entire music library of a not-so-small record label at the time. (on a side-note re: “digital”: Even MIDI wasn’t around in the mid 70ies. It wouldn’t be around until the early 80ies). There also were a few great radio shows, which gave you an opportunity to “sample” some of the sought-after music, although it was interspersed by announcements and chatter. But the bulk of the songs would play without interjections. Anyway, I was quite happy with the selection of music I had accumulated over my teen years.

So I’d often sit in my room in the den of my parent’s house for hours on end and practice guitar parts, which I wanted to be able to play. And I wouldn’t stop until I had gotten close enough to envision passing my band member’s critical judgement. It wasn’t as if they cared an awful lot for what I’d practice outside of the material we had agreed on as the band’s repertoire. And because they didn’t care for that – or not much anyway – and because there was no real incentive for me to practice anything else except the songs we would rehearse and eventually perform, I came up with this fictitious “exam situation”. And it looked something like this: Every time I’d hold one of the cherished albums in my hands and after carefully removing the cellophane from the cardboard cover as well as pulling the record from the interior leaflet, I’d study the liner notes with almost pious attention, which let me in on which studio musicians had played on the record, who the engineer and producer was and from whose “quill” the song had emanated. Often, there were pictures of the studio sessions, which showed the musicians playing their parts with utter focus. I imagined being in their place, hearing a song over the headphones while playing the requested part and with a recording engineer moving faders, operating switches and buttons on the studio mixing board. I envisioned being a contributing part to a recording that would later be listened to by millions of people and for possibly hundreds of times, e.g. on the radio, on television shows, in dancing halls, restaurants, on private parties or in the convenience of the domestic ambiance. I tried to “test feel” the pride and personal triumph I expected to kick in, when I’d once find my name among the names of all these adored studio buffs. I guess, I’m saying I dreamt of feeling significant in some way and of being acknowledged by treasured musical colleages, I may have dreamt of a sense of accomplishment and a profound feeling of contentedness I expected to set in upon reaching this envisioned goal. I think I’m saying: I wanted in!

But it’s funny how dreams work (or seem to work for me, that is): Those dreams are perfect in your imagination and impart the focus of our desire to a 100%. Real life, however, doesn’t happen in perfect ways. And it wasn’t until much, much later that I had to find that the modest foundation of my musicianship – which I had nonetheless built with passion, committment and consistency, but which had still remained somewhat limited – might fall short of what was required by a factor of 10 at least. Ok, in my defense: I knew then that the odds for actually seeing my dreams through were not in my favor. But I afforded myself the whole nine of what I thought worth aspiring back in those days. But more than anything else, I’d always dream of once owning a studio myself, chock full with the latest and greatest in technology available at the time, so that I’d be able to take as much time for composing and tracking as “the muse” requested from me. I’d also dream of having an ample amount of addresses and phone numbers on file that would enable me to call the best suited session players and artists, who would literally set the right tone for a particular song, vocal or instrumental track. Because there are experts for any kind of style – probably not unlike acting and actors, where you have names who are specifically well versed in portraying a certain type of personality. A similar thing might be true for songstresses and singers, who managed to “brand” themselves for a particular style of singing. It is them whom you want to call for your production!

I’m afraid, none of this is going to happen any more. There is no music playing in me any more. And I’m not listening to music any more, either. It appears as if this softly reverberating string has gone silent within me. It’s over. I never had the means to afford myself a professional studio prior to the overall situation that I’ve arrived at, and it’s become more than unlikely for it to happen than ever before. But this isn’t even the point. “Where there is a will, there’s a way”, was a motto I had readily subscribed to and lived by throughout the larger part of my adult life and previous career. But where willpower, passion, goals or simply being driven are lacking – there can be no way.

That’s how it goes with dreaming… Having said that, treat yourself to some guys who are really at the top of their game!

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3 Comments

  1. Your words are very thought provoking. I’m slowly reaching the point of emptiness as well. We are in our late 40’s. All we have is the desire to make good, pleasurable music. To achieve this, we must be able react on our terms. Trust me, there are countless young musicians who are silently watching you and wishing they had your resources. Also, judging by “I Count On U”, you still are accomplished musician.

    So, while the well may slowly emptying, it will slowly be filled with something else. To be successful in terms of stardom and fame is a unique possibility. However, to create art on your own terms and to “earn” the respect and peers is awe inspiring. Speaking for me, I adore you, your spirit and your talent. Keep up the good work because the young ones are listening.

    Love,

    Tommy B.

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  2. Thanks for your kind words, Tommy. To clear something up: Initially, I got into this from a place of pure enthusiasm for music and admiration of my role models at first. The only second agenda I may have flirted with was to make some money from this as a transition to affording myself a studio and ultimately becoming a writer/producer. To be honest with you, I’ve never really enjoyed the spotlight too much. I did enjoy it at times, but once the lights are off, it’s as if you stopped existing. And when the lights are on, the pressure is enormous. I have become very bad at handling pressure.

    I don’t think the well has necessarily run dry as I’ve never even come close to realizing half the potential some people seem to see in me or produced any noteworthy creative output. There are other limitations I can’t overcome – and I’ve been relentless with trying hard to do so – and they seem to have muted the muse in me. I may have landed a surprising little spark of … getting noticed, but the fallout from that as well as the clear sight of what it would take to really put myself on the map and STAY there seems incompatible with the make I am and those said limitations. In other words and to use an analogy here: It’s like aspiring to become Michael Phelps, but being afraid of water to the point of becoming nauseous. I can’t even begin to describe what an utterly doomed endeavour this all was. Not to mention some REAL hard facts that would make it difficult to be in a creative spirit as it is.
    On the ironic side of things: I thought moving and getting to live in a quieter, more relaxed and soothing place might rekindle that buried, suffocated flame of a once-known and driving passion. It didn’t. It did the opposite: It extinguished it completely. Huh. Odd.

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  3. P.S. For reasons I can’t name publicly, I will have to keep this site running as well as all my other outlets. They need to look like activity in this field.

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