Confessions of a Musical Polyamorist

Dear Abby,

I have a problem. I like a lot of music. Different styles. And every time I get an idea, I start a new band. It is starting to affect every aspect of my life. The band I have been a singer-songwriter in for nearly 20 years has allowed me to explore lots of territory. But it’s fun to form bands with new groupings of musicians, and to push myself to create in different ways. It’s a lot of music in my head…and it doesn’t always bring in lots of money, but the camaraderie, creative possibilities and occasional transcendent moments make it worthwhile.
Am I crazy?


A Musical Polyamorist

Dear A Musical Polyamorist,

You need help. I can only provide some basic suggestions. We’ll get to the “crazy” part later. What I’m going to tell you now will likely hurt your fragile musician’s ego and perhaps send you back to the symphonic drawing board.

Let’s start with economics:

You can’t make a living doing too many things. Have you paid attention to Burger King’s diversification product strategies over the last 20 years? They’re called Burger King but they thought making burritos, pizzas and rib sandwiches might help boost sales. Instead of focusing on improving the fake grilled burgers that customers think taste like sucking on creosote-soaked railroad spikes, they branched out.

The lesson is — do something well. Master it.

My advice is to study songwriters like Jennifer Warnes. Four simple words: “All the Right Moves.” Hits. These experts write hooks. You don’t. I’ve heard your music. Where do I start? Long instrumental electronic meanderings in Liminal Phase, lyrics about war and ugly facts about human behavior in the Honeydogs, laconic vocal delivery, too many chords for bandmates to remember without charts…I have news for you: no one knows what an Amygdala is or cares. Why not re-write that “Laughing Lips” song or just re-release it on your next record? The third time is a charm.

Imitate vocalists like the last guy that won American Idol, whatever his name is. That’s talent. These people get record deals and have a high number of hits on YouTube. They dress well, have nice hair and smile a lot. Work on that and things will turn around for you.

I have been doing some research on the worldwide web and Googled-searched “cover bands.” It looks like starting a hair metal ballad band is a lucrative career route. Some of these guys pull in 6 figures. Live karaoke is a wild west of revenue-generation. I always thought someone should start a Pablo Cruise cover band. Yeah, I know you have a couple cover bands already—Hookers $ Blow and Rose Room. Do yourself a favor and add “What You Gonna Do When She says Goodbye” to both of those bands’ repertoires — you can dance to it and it has fancy chords.

Your AND THE PROFESSORS orchestral pop project coming out this fall could use some more Celine Dion shimmer-oomph and Gypsy Kings rattling Spanish guitar flair. At least have Ray Lamontagne or that guy from Fun to sing on it. Soooo sexy. Why didn’t you get John Williams to do the orchestrations? He’s busy and pricey but well-worth it. And before I forget, Mr. Wordsmith, hasn’t anyone told you starting with an article does not a band name make?

Recorded music doesn’t really make money for many musicians anymore. It’s like water. Wallpaper. What’s the last record you listened to for over a month? Do yourself and the world a favor, don’t keep making records that only add to the epic landfill problem we’re experiencing.

Channel your creative energies into helping Burger King turn that briquette into something edible. There’s gold in them hills!

Lastly, there have been a few studies on your ilk and communicable illnesses. Be careful playing with so many musicians.Wash your hands often.

Stay positive and seize the day. Rome wasn’t built in a day.


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