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Music Life: 04 - Music By Myself? Or Live As A Group?
By Brian Donovan - 07/21/2008 - 05:17 AM EDT

This month, I want to discuss a topic that comes up with musicians quite often: relationships versus our music.

Of course, everyone has them from time to time, but musicians get a bad rap because we tend to keep our relationships at arm's length in fear that they will interfere or distract us from our lofty goals of being a dedicated musician.  But see, I have come to terms with my humanity.  What I mean by that is just this: we are humans before we are musicians.  We need love and commitment before everything else.  Does that mean we shouldn't be totally consumed by our passion?  Well, define consumed...

So here was MY situation a few years ago: I met the perfect woman, but I'm STILL working on my career.  So, marriage?  Oh my god!  I'm too young!  What do I do?

Well, basically, you must accept the fact that you have an inner passion for MUSIC that will ALWAYS need to be fulfilled.  That's what it means to be a musician.  You must ALSO accept the fact that you have an inner need for LOVE that will ALWAYS need to be fulfilled.  That's what it means to be human.  Love can take many forms, but sooner or later, you will need your desire to be loved to be fulfilled at any price.  Coming to grips with that reality can prevent you from making horrible choices when that day comes.  This ultimately means that you will forever be forced to split this passion with everything/everyone else in your life.  That's just the way it is.

So, let's step back for a moment:
My day of realization came on my 29th birthday.  Oddly enough, I began to realize that I had reached the beginning of the last year of my all-powerful "20's" and so I started to feel unaccomplished in my career.  I was (half-heartedly) trying to be a recording artist.  Believing that it was what I was meant to be.  Then, as the weeks progressed, I felt unaccomplished in my life.  Having a few failed relationships behind me, I started to understand that my desire to be a famous musician had, indeed, pushed these girls away.  I was fine with a few of them, as they were 'unsavory' people, shall we say.  But I hadn't realized how much it bothered me until I was faced with what lay ahead of me: the fear that I would become a burnt-out musician, struggling to achieve something I was never meant to be.  Bleak?


But what happened was amazing: after selling everything I owned - including all my music gear (seriously, I left my apartment with a bag of clothes, some food, and my car) I took off for the great wide open spaces of America.  All with the intent of not making music the most important thing in my life.  For the first time in 20 years, I didn't even own a guitar!  I needed to put my life first.  I needed to know I could love myself even if I wasn't a professional musician.

So what happened?  I roamed the country, experiencing other people and new situations that had nothing to do with music, looking for answers.  And I found JUST ONE:

I found that I love myself FOR having the courage to walk away from the one thing I thought I needed to survive: music.  And I survived in spite of it.  I found that I was meant NOT to be a recording artist like I had previously thought, but that I love songwriting, no matter what professional form it does or does not take.  Perhaps in a future article, I'll explain in more detail how this realization actually happened.

So, after 9 months of roaming (literally, camping across the country night after night) I returned to California with a renewed sense of peace in my soul.  With new reasons to be all the way on the other side of the country from the family I left behind so many years ago: the sun, the adventure, the wide open spaces of the west coast.  Not to mention, my love of palm trees.

So, the lesson here: don't be afraid to step back from your goals in order to regroup.  Just like a painter standing back from his canvas to take in how his small brush strokes are affecting the bigger picture.

Since moving back to California, I met my wife, and we're expecting our first child.  Do I feel even the slightest bit uneasy about the fact that I now have something more important in my life that isn't music?  Not at all.  For 3 reasons:

1. Music's place in my life has become that much more important, so as to take care of the family that now relies on me.
2. I now know that I can survive if music isn't what I end up doing for a living, so the debilitating pressure is off me to push everything and everyone else in my life aside to reach that goal.
And lastly, because I'm living my life and having new experiences:
3. More songs.

Luckily, my wife has pushed me to move farther ahead with my career than I ever would've myself.  She obviously knows something I don't: life is easier when you make your dream a reality.  And the life we live together today, is better than anything else I could've ever known by myself . . .

Plus, what kind of role model would I be for our child if I gave up?

Until next time . . . appreciate the horizon.

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