The March Of The Clouds

There have been times in my life when my creative impulses have been thwarted by the day to day necessities of my life. Lots of times. As I get older, the days seem to slip through my fingers like sand. Those who say time management is my biggest problem are right. But there are also 1,001 distractions.
I got up this morning with an old song of mine stuck in my head. It’s called “March of The Clouds”, and the specific lyrics that I keep thinking of are;

Silenced by the memories,
I search my thoughts again,
And find the dream forgotten
Along the way.
The clouds remind me of passions,
I seldom dream about,
And oh, I long to join them,
In their march.

Unlike hundreds of other songs, I can still remember where I was when I wrote the first lines to that song. I was standing beside the master propane tank, outside behind the main building at my work place, Danalex in Bessemer City, NC (it’s long gone), filling my forklift’s propane tank. I stood there, somewhat despondent at working a job I didn’t like for little pay, while my heart ached to be making music and writing poetry. I stood there and watched storm clouds march across the sky on swift winds (and can still see them in my mind), and I wished I could leave that place and go with the clouds to wherever they were going. Those thoughts gave me a song.
Now here I am, decades down to road. I’ll be forty five this year. I’ve elevated my habit of wasting my time to an art. I wasted much of the 1990’s working for my family’s restaurant instead of making music. I got married to a self obsessed woman in 1998 who took offense that I was more creative than her, and I let her stand in my way creatively for eight years. I started driving a tractor-trailer in 1999 and frittered away my life on the road until 2007. Then I moved to Florida to live with a wonderful woman who supports my dreams, only to waste a whole year trying to get a working rock band off the ground. When that band failed I took my energy and applied it to another, which lasted less than two months.
In all these endeavors, I’ve left feeling like I did nothing but waste a part of my life that I’ll never get back. I’m still sitting here. The clock is still ticking. And I’m essentially still in the same place I was in while watching those clouds go overhead in 1987. I’ve made no progress to speak of. In spite of writing over 400 songs, I’ve recorded no albums. In spite of dozens of short stories and at least half a dozen false starts at novels, I’ve published no books. I’ve printed no artwork. I’ve talked a lot about all of it. I’ve planned. Schemed. Dreamed. But somehow I always find things to eat away at my days, and the days, weeks and months keep slipping by.
One thing that has me thinking about all this is an upcoming gig on March 20th. And we’ll have a rehearsal on March 17th. My share of the pay for this gig will be a little over $80. That’s not bad, you might say, for four hours of playing. But then you have to consider the preparation that’s gone into it. Set up times. Tear down. Transportation. I’m going to be spending a lot of time this week going over songs and learning lyrics. By the time I’m actually singing that first song on Saturday, the time I’ve invested in preparing for this gig will essentially render that $80 meaningless.
So… a paradigm shift is in order. We desperately need money, and playing gigs is a good way to get it. And I concede that much of this needed preparation was forced upon me because the band’s guitarist quit. But I’m strangely beginning to feel that I need more than this. I was not put here to entertain the masses at pointless events, playing songs that were written by other artists, just to make a few coins. If the investment/reward ratio was better balanced, then maybe.
I guess in a roundabout way I’m wondering if these gigs need to be filtered through a better paradigm. It’s not enough for me to make some coinage from gigs (although it beats digging ditches). I need more. There has to be a creative component beyond just singing songs. To my mind that means recording originals. That means releasing CDs. That means making downloads available on iTunes and Amazon.com. In the long run, that’s the only real way to secure financial independence. As long as you’re noodling around in bars playing other people’s material, you’re nothing more than background material. You are a biological jukebox, and no one will give you any more thought afterward than if you were a machine they’d dropped a quarter into.
With the departure of its guitar player, Catdaddy Pirates has been rendered meaningless. Sure, we could find another guitar player and keep plugging along, but now I’m wondering if there’s even a point. What shows the most promise at the moment is our acoustic trio, Windhaven. Maybe not in the gigging sense, but in the artistic, recording sense. If I’m going to apply my energy anywhere, it should be in Windhaven, not wasted on yet another pointless band that exists for no other reason than to serve the ego of one petty little tyrant or another, or soothe the delicate desperation of some guitar god wannabe. I care less and less about performing in front of audiences for pocket change. There has to be more.

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Brother Wolf -
Brother Wolf -
12 years ago

Being artistic has its ups and downs. At times we take one step forward and two steps back, due to events that are far beyond our likes or control. With this happening – we must dig down deep into our complicated simple selves and break through its candy coated shell to the core of what got us started in the beginning. Now we can see just why we do what we do. It not for the money, or the applause, its for us…
Much Love
Brother Wolf

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