I sliced through my left index finger with a jigsaw on Friday.  (Just another day in the life of a songwriter-turned-construction worker.)  I'll be fine, but the bandages make it hard to type. Get set for typos.

Anyway, today I took my kids to the park.  They love the slides and playing t-ball, and I love watching them go wild and crazy outside. There were a lot of other kids and parents there, and I overheard one dad talking to another.  He was saying that he was a musician in a cover band, and that he played a gig in Wrigleyville in Chicago last night.  Of course my ears perked up.  He went on to say that his band "played stuff that people actually like to hear, not like those blues musicians."

My heart sunk.  I went off to play t-ball with my kids.

It's a tough world out there for a songwriter. I've played dozens of shows where an audience member will actually ask me to stop playing my own songs and start playing cover songs or some other genre.  It's heart wrenching.  I used to bite my tongue and oblige, but in my older years, I've told them nicely that I won't do it.

(Whilst internally cursing, of course).

Don't get me wrong.  I've got nothing against cover bands. Sometimes there's nothing better than kicking back and listening to the songs we already know.  (Hence the reason I know every word to "Me and Bobby McGee").  But the world needs more than that. We need people to continue to create, to find their unique voice, to make sounds that we've never heard before, to push us beyond what we already know and make us think more deeply. Familiar is nice, but fresh is risky and exciting; it's where we expand our minds and evolve as people.

Clearly I'm biased towards original artists. What can I say.

The point is: there's room for everybody.  And that's true outside the world of music, too.  Reader, the world would be incredibly lame if we were all the same, all the time. Originality is so important. I hope you're out there being your wild and crazy self.  When you feel pressured to be a part of the cover band of life, may you feel bold enough to say that you won't do it.

(Whilst internally cursing, of course).

Get out there and be whatever genre you want,  and write your own original story. Enjoy the familiar, and embrace the new.  I'll see you next Sunday. -Em



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