When thinking about dreams, many things come to mind. The first, and most obvious, is that everyone’s is a little different. Some want to change the world. Some only want to change their world. Many lie in between. The less obvious is that some people don’t have dreams. At least, this was never obvious to me, until recently.
I have no idea what drives these people, the ones without dreams. Money, maybe, but the desire for money is simply a manifestation of a desire for a great life. We all want our lives to be great, but without something that defines our life, without an almost all consuming purpose, greatness has a different definition. Without dreams, greatness is simply, in my estimation, the desire to have the most pleasure possible, without pain.
For me, in many ways I’m thankful I’ve had pain. The bad times in life make me appreciate the good ones. There are times when I think to myself “I’m bored,” and then I think again “I’m bored.” Only this time, I say it with a smile. Boredom isn’t necessarily is a bad thing. When you’ve experienced pain, boredom is actually a very welcome respite.
Most of the time, I am trying to figure out how to accomplish my dreams. I write songs whenever I’m inspired. I always strive to be a better musician, knowing that, in general, the world doesn’t care about my dreams; they simply care about how I represent my dreams. They care about the execution of that representation. Simply put, they care about the end product. In my case, they care about the song. Some care about the tone. Some care about the mood. Some care about the lyrics. For many, I have no idea what they care about. That’s why writing for others has never made sense to me. I write for myself.
Some truly care about me, and I’m certainly grateful for that. They see my daily struggle. They pay attention to how hard I work. They follow my words. Not just my lyrics, but the words of my everyday life. Some follow my words closer than I do.
In this respect, I have to understand that popularity is about perception. If I like a certain song by another artist, or a movie, or a book, it’s likely for different reasons than the author intended. One hit wonders are the most obvious frame of reference for this idea. Hanson, for example, is known mainly for “mmm bop,” a poppy song they wrote when they were kids and became famous for. While I’m certain they were happy that anything they wrote became popular, they probably would rather be known for the countless songs they have created which are far better.
I struggle with the song “Chillin’ at the Papa,” for similar reasons. Yes, the song is catchy and fun, and in some ways is actually a good song. Even though I wrote it in five minutes, or perhaps because I wrote it in five minutes, it is a highly accurate reflection of where I was at the time in terms of my job. I don’t think it’s even close to my best work, though. I generally think of it as above average for what I’ve written, maybe in the top 25 percent, so around 40th or so. It used to surprise me when people would say “I love your music. Do you have a full album?” To date, I have 10 albums and still get that response. Or, when I’ve given out demos, people think that all I’ve created is those songs, even though I’ve clearly handwritten my website on each CD and included fliers with those demos which also clearly display my website. Most people simply listen to what’s convenient. I do it too. Even with some of my favorite artists, I haven’t searched out their entire catalog; I simply listen to what I’ve been exposed to. For example, my favorite artist of all time, Prince Rogers Nelson, has at least 30 albums out. I’ve heard maybe 100 of his songs. If you include songs he has written for other people, some estimate that he’s written over 1,000 songs that have been recorded, which means I’ve heard 10 percent of what he’s written. From that standpoint, if someone is familiar with 15 or more of my songs, then they conceivably like my music as much as I like Prince, and that’s a wonderfully eye opening idea. Wonderfully.