Friday, January 20, 2006

A day job ... and talent!

At the end of the last post, I commented that some bloggers can really write. And it reminded me that I've been meaning to publish a post on my colleague, Tom Lips.

A few months ago, Tom invited me to attend a benefit concert in which he was the headliner. I was curious, and it was for a good cause, so Mary P. and I attended together. But my expectations were not very high.

After all, Tom has a "day job". He can't have any real talent or he'd make his living as a musician, right?

Wrong! I should have known better. Talent by itself doesn't guarantee that you'll make it to the top of the charts, or even that you'll be able to earn your living as a musician. (Or painter, or writer — whatever your talent may be.)

Think of the Beatles, for example. If anyone ever deserved to make it to the top based on sheer talent, it was Lennon and McCartney. But they still needed a heaping helping of luck.

If it hadn't been for Brian Epstein, the Beatles might never have made it out of northern England. But surely Brian Epstein was an unlikely character to be running a record shop in Liverpool.

Their second stroke of luck was in catching the ear of George Martin, the only person worthy of the title, the Fifth Beatle. (Did you know that Martin always worked for his modest EMI salary? — at no time did he earn millions off the Beatles.)

The point is, even extraordinarily talented people need a lot of luck to achieve stardom. Just because someone doesn't "make it big" doesn't mean s/he lacks talent.

Tom has a good voice and he plays the guitar well. But where he really shines, in my opinion, is as a songwriter. His CDs feature a variety of styles:  folk, calypso, pop, country — even a tongue-in-cheek polka tune.

On Practical Man, there are several songs with beautiful melodies. You can download an excerpt of one of them, "May Morning Love Song", here. Other songs are humorous:  for example, "Big Rocks are Falling" (excerpt here).

Tom is also a fine lyricist. Here's a lyric that manages to be simultaneously poignant and humorous — no easy trick!

this love is a weed

this love is a weed
it's not a fragile flower
it didn't bloom in a day
it won't fade in an hour
you can trample it down
you might think it was gone
but when you look around
it's taking over the lawn

this love is a weed
that you can't root out
and it's stronger than fear
and it's deeper than doubt
it's a humble claim
and a green, green, fire
it's the flower and flame
of a soul's desire

this love is a weed,
it's a stubborn seed
when the nights get cold
and it puts out shoots
and it sends down roots
and it just takes hold
it can raise a blade
from the deepest shade
it's a rugged breed
it can wait for rain,
it can deal with pain
this love is a weed

this love is a weed
but weed is just a word
for what's hardest to kill
that's what I've always heard
if you've been looking for roses
they might not be what you need:
roses bloom and they fade
but this love is a weed

There's real wisdom in the message of that last verse. This post isn't meant to be an advertisement, but you should buy the CD on the strength of that one song alone.

A lot of bloggers, including me, are aspiring writers. I want to offer you this bit of encouragement:  you may have a "day job", but that doesn't prove you lack talent.

Keep on honing your craft. Whether or not you ever "make it big", the craft is its own reward. And who knows, one day a lucky break (following a lot of hard work) may bring you to the attention of a Brian Epstein.

copyright © 2006, Stephen Peltz


At 2:18 AM, January 21, 2006, Blogger 49erDweet said...

Totally cool, dude!

At 8:43 PM, January 21, 2006, Blogger snaars said...

Beats the lyrics of my last song:

This love is weed
better than speed.
No need to shoot up
just light up
and take a flight up

Heh heh.

Just kidding. Nice post. I particularly appreciate the comment at the end about "the craft" being its own reward.

At 6:03 PM, January 22, 2006, Blogger LoryKC said...

What wonderful advice.
Good luck with your continuing writing, as well!
Seems I've got some music shopping to attend to...

At 7:54 PM, January 22, 2006, Blogger chosha said...

It's so true. When my friend introduced me to the indies rock scene in Osaka, I thought the bands would all be amateurish and suck. And some were, and did. But there were some absolutely awesome bands amongst them that just hadn't caught that break yet. Only one of the artists we saw has nailed a major recording deal, but that keeps us hopeful for the rest.

As talented as your friend may be, I'm not certain that album covers are his forte. ^_~

At 9:27 PM, January 22, 2006, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Re the album cover —

Tom's wife runs a farm, and they really do have a bull. I guess Tom couldn't resist the joke … the "Practical Man" dressed in a tuxedo to do his farm chores.

But you have a point. I suppose the cover was aimed at his local fan base (folks who know him) rather than a national audience.


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