So you wanna be a rock superstar, and live large
A big house, 5 cars, you’re in charge
Comin’ up in the world, don’t trust nobody
Gotta look over your shoulder constantly

I got home at 5am this morning. Now, I realize that this ain’t shit for some of you. You know who you are. You don’t need a 24 hour breakfast place, ’cause by the time you get home, the regular joints are already open. Well, this black man hasn’t done that type of thing in a long, long time, and I’m not built for this anymore. Here’s the kicker: although I was in bed by 5:15, I was up again at 7:30, ready to roll out to my other house that I’m trying to sell to mop and clean grout. Cleaning grout is the exact equivalent to scrubbing a toilet with a toothbrush, except the grout brush is slightly bigger, and you don’t have to put it in your mouth afterward. My head feels like angry longshoremen pried it open, discussed their declining benefits package, then poured hot sludge into my cranium. And why, pray tell? All because, deep in my heart of hearts, I want to be a rockstar.

Stop right there. I already know what you’re saying, and you’re correct – who DOESN’T want to be a rockstar? You can’t beat the perks: money, fame, women, power, respect (unless you’re Sugar Ray), and all the Appleby’s riblets you can fit in a Hefty freezer bag. It’s intoxicating to possess just about any of those traits, and rockstars often have 2 or more, sometimes all of the above. Most of us would lie, cheat, and steal to get one drip from the damp washcloth of fame, and rockstars get to bathe in it. And often, they don’t seem to appreciate the gift they’ve been given…spending lavishly, acting stupidly, role-modeling poorly. That just makes the proletariat even more envious, to the tune of “Damn, if I had that money/career, I’d be…”, and you can fill in the blank of just how much better they’d be as a celebrity than Bobby Brown.

The problem is, that’s not all there is to being a rockstar. Rarely to the negatives get discussed, and even when they do, most people just disregard it as another rich and famous celebrity playing victim to his or her own fame. You know, “Oh, I can’t go to the mall anymore” or “I can’t eat a meal without someone begging me for an autograph”. You hear that shit, and you say “Oooooooooooooh, poor [celebrity]! Can’t go to the mall! That must be tewwible! How do you manage?” All the while, MTV is showing their 20,000 square foot house on Cribs again. It makes you ill to think of all the advantages they have, while they’re grousing about the price of their notoriety.

But the catch is, they’re right. it does suck to be a bonafide, through-and-through rockstar with all the trappings. Here’s why: music and success are inversely proportional, meaning that the more successful you become, the more difficult it is to do the thing that made you famous in the first place. Think about it this way: when you’re in a little band, playing gigs at any and every roadhouse, bar, party, festival, bat mitzvah between here and Odessa, the music is what it’s all about. You have external hardships (like being broke), but it’s always about the music. Compare that to the life of a successful, record-selling musician. You have to do the music, yeah, but you also have to deal with a manager, a tour manager, a booking manager, lawyers, and accountants (if you’re smart). You have to balance your desire to create with the fiscal expectations of your record label. You have to constantly be concerned about your “imaging”. You have to tour, tour, tour, tour, tour to promote your current album and to offset the fact that you’re only making about $2 per album that you then have to split among your bandmates. You have to deal with fans, critics, award shows, radio shows, and constant comparisons between you and whoever else came before you that sounds even remotely like you. You have to deal with egos, sycophants, hangers-on, groupies, trust, exhaustion, and the idiocy of having people who know very little about making music be in a position to tell you (not ask – they fucking tell you) how you should sound and who you should be. It sucks. And I want it all.

My band Nonetheless spent the last two nights in the studio, furiously working on a demo. Whenever I’d mention this to someone, their faces would fill with excitement, and like a kid on Christmas morn, they’d say “Wow, you must be so excited!” Well, I’ve done this before, so I know that any excitement over recording anything should be tempered with the reality of actually doing it. It’s a slow, tedious, frustrating, often anger-inducing process that makes you want to stab yourself in the neck with a paring knife for writing this song that you’ve now played approximately 47 times in the last 3 hours. Last night we started at around 8pm, and walked out (after dropping one song) at 4:30am. And that’s after starting at 7:30 Friday night and going until 1am. It’s not exactly fun after Hour #9. And by Hour #15, you reeeeeeeally just wanna go sell your shit and take up horticulture.

But we push on, knowing that the result will be a crisp, clean demo CD that you can then use to try and secure gigs and perhaps a record deal. It’s worth it to us to deal with any obstacle because of one singular thing: we believe. We believe that what we have is worth the effort; that the child we’ve produced is meant for the world to consume and cherish and love. We believe because in addition to the time spent in the studio, we’ve spent hours and hours prior to that rehearsing the songs over and over, refining, re-writing, fine-tuning and making it good. We believe because we must; it’s an unflinching requirement on our quest to make excellent, transcendent music. We believe because we know that, once we find the right conduit, we’ll find people out there who will believe in us.

Do I wanna be a rockstar? Please – I already am.

Peace.

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