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How To Cope With Wrong Turns!

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

For over a decade now, I've made several turns down blind allies on music's Highway To Hell journey. And surely, it can be hell. Especially, if like me, you want to do something visually stunning AND make great music.


I am too old, now, to consider stardom. And I'm not nearly as talented as I want to be. I have joined the ranks of the "never was". And all I have, other than a fist full of what I think are decent songs, are old photographs like this one, that I keep under my bed.


Unlike most of my old friends who've had dreams of making it in the business, I've never stopped trying. Music is something I must do. It's not anything I'd recommend for the faint of heart, or for those who can't handle rejection, or those who can't find the dizzying amount of cash you need to promote your craft.


For those who've given up on making music, I want to ask you one question. What did you learn?

Russ Maines as regular JOE 3.0 (first iteration morph-lite rig, circa 2011)

Did you learn perseverance? Did you learn patience? Did you learn confidence? Did you learn to see music as well as hear it? And most of all, did you make good friends?


In my life, regardless of the countless mistakes I've made in music, it has always taught me something. Music has always been a blessing. It's introduced me to many of my dearest friends. And it continues to help me make new friends. It's taught me more about business than my regular job. And its taught me introverts must be entertaining before they stick their heads back into their caves in order to get anyone to care.


And its taught me that music is relationship building. There's no amount of social media presence you can have that'll replace the one on one human interaction you get from playing live gigs.


It's taught me to roll with my crazy visions of pulling off a great stage show. And it's taught me not everyone is ready for LED covered morphsuits and "Glowrage" guitars lit by light tape and battery packs. Some things in music are just...well..they don't go over.


But some things do. Like the groove of a great new track you're working on in your spare time. Or jamming with a great team of folks who also just want to have fun playing songs they love to hear on the radio (and don't).


The only reason I picked up music was to learn to play great songs I loved. Well, that and meeting women. It's easy to forget that when everyone wants to sell you something or take your money, or tell you that you're great and leave you holding the bag. I've made some incredible friends who freely share their war stories with me about how they got hosed by some club owner, or some label. But they keep at it for the same reason everyone else keeps at it. To get better and playing songs.


Unlike some folks who believe music is a journey of self expression, I believe music is a journey of self discovery. It's the crucible that grinds you up into flour, so you can go from wheat to bread. You just don't know you need eggs, water, yeast and some baking soda until you've tried baking your wheat on your own.


In music, you've got to learn to work with people. All sorts of people. Even the drunk guy who just wants to hit a tambourine. Even people you may not get along with.


When things go south and you take a wrong turn down a blind alley (or several) remember one thing: music is a blessing. You'll learn something if you keep working at it. Remember you can be the greatest musician, or writer of your time, and you can still die broke. Just look at Mozart!! It doesn't help if you have a rockSTAR attitude and treat everyone like dirt. But it does help if you can take your gift, combine it with a little bravery, get out there and share it.


In the end you'll find the world wants to hear your voice, even if it's not the loudest one in the room. And there's plenty of room for you on top, or bottom, or somewhere in between. Your job is making sure you don't lose your way, find people you can trust, and have fun. Life's too short.


Love & Rockets,

Russ

Riffing Russ ripping up the rock.


Russ Maines in the band Dirtyworx, Southern Maryland, circa 2023.

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