Thanks everyone. I somehow missed this when it was posted, but I do appreciate the stories.

I've been working on a personal project that I had put off for more than a decade. I have many hundreds of hours of tapes, not studio mind you, but random live cassette recordings of songwriting sessions going back to high school (well, actually I found a tape of my parents arguing from 1969 believe it or not, we had a home recorder and it is only about 2 minutes, but hearing both my parents alive and still married (they split in 1970!) was a trip. I also found a snippet of me around 1971ish goofing with my friends. It's embarrassing of course, but priceless personally as my family was always broke so there are almost no photos of us growing up, certainly no videos of any kind and before I turned about 20, no recordings of my voice except this little snippet lasting a couple minutes.

Musically, I never recorded anything in a studio. I had bands that did but I do not have a single copy of any of those recordings, including some stuff we did for Sony in the early 90's in the project that garnered us a record deal offer. That is a long long story but needless to say I passed on it and they kept all the recordings.

I do have some very rough recordings however of over 2000 songs, often just snippets, riffs, chorus lines etc. But there are many hundreds of finished songs, roughly done with piano/vocal or some synth tracks and vocals. I also have practice tapes of many band recordings when a new song was being worked on. Why I never recorded any of our live shows save one short set in 1988 at a town festival we headlined and I got about 30 minutes before a massive thunderstorm rained down on our show. Of course I always thought there would be time to record, release albums, do live shows with professional videos done etc. But once the 21st century started, I was 100% focused on JPF 24/7/365. I think I made the right decision because we've helped so many people. There are people talented on a level I still can barely comprehend who never got a major label deal or even offer, so how I was even in their orbit for a time is mind boggling, but for me, in the end, I always did music to please myself. I did well over 1000 live performances in 48 States and even got to play in a few dozen other countries.

One of my first (and most dogmatic) rules I made for myself was a Church and State division of my own music and JPF. Sure, I played a song or two at most shows in the 90's but once 2001 hit, I cut that out too because I saw how many people had "organizations" that they abused to promote their own work, and to use member fees etc. not to help their org. or members, but to push their own music. That sickened me and I never wanted anyone to be able to claim I was one of "them." Most are long gone of course (though one keeps hanging on by a thread) and I am still around, perhaps there is a correlation.

All that to say that listening to all these old recordings, often auditioning with or for people I don't even remember (one such time we wrote a song I like together but I haven't the slightest idea who they were or even recall a single detail beyond the song itself) it has reignited some feelings of missing making music myself. I found a lot of songs in wildly different genres that I quite liked. I also realized how much of my emotional state was captured in the music I was making. It is so obvious in hindsight, but I, like all of us, was too young to understand what my soul was saying to me.

My songwriting for the most part was always a message to myself. Ironically I wished I had listened more to myself because I was giving good advice and sending warning flares as well, which I wish I had listened to about a great many things. Perhaps some of you can understand when you look back at your early work especially with fresh eyes.

It is especially odd to hear my own voice singing songs, alone on a tape, that I barely recall until it is playing in my head. Then all the peripheral feelings within the song come to life. Much of it only means something to me of course. I think that is why I was usually not all that caught up in chasing fame or popularity with the masses. It was usually too personal. Not even my wife has heard any of this stuff.

So when I hear this stuff, I do get an occasional itch to go down to my music room which is completely unplugged and hook stuff up and start making noise. I used to be quite cutting edge, but now all my gear are antiques. I watch YouTube videos on all the new stuff and realize much like other addictions, I used to be addicted to buying gear. That is why I have 27 Keyboards, 7 Guitars (and I don't play guitar) an acoustic/elect Bass, 2 massive drum kits and tons of other gear. I don't have a working sound system however and money isn't really available to start buying gear again. So I think about it but reality in "the clear blue light of day" (a song I discovered written with a life long friend when we were early teens) I think perhaps I should let that sleeping dog lie. I am too old and unhealthy to play like I once could (3 strokes took that away) and walking up to a piano now and then I realize I don't even remember any of my own songs without hearing them first.

In all the time I have run JPF (now almost 35 years) I have only twice been asked about my own music (outside of when I used to play a song at an event) and I always found that a bit amusing because that is the reality that most people don't understand. If people are being honest, they are way more interested in you as a person than your music. In fact, the idea of listening to someone's new album is dreadful for most of your friends. That IS the truth. Sure, people buy music, but the truth is once you are past 30, your musical preference is locked in, no matter how open minded you think you are. Nothing will sooth you more than listening to those old hits of your youth. When someone DOES seem interested in your music, it's really either a ploy to get closer to you or a polite interaction often in hopes you'll reciprocate (which people rarely do if they have a choice). When people DO latch on to new music, it is almost nearly because of a circumstance outside of their control. They hear it on the radio over and over and over so it gets programmed into their brain until they find themselves "friends" with it so they adopt it no different than meeting a new person and adopting them into your circle over time.

Okay, enough rambling. I am sure many of you strongly disagree etc. That's fine. Deal directly with musicians for 35 years, see the desperation and delusions, see the selfishness and the posturing. You'll see the patterns and one day the realities. BUT... if you're lucky, you'll ALSO get to know the PEOPLE behind the music. You'll come to love interacting and helping when you can even though you know that no reciprocation will be coming 99% of the time. It won't matter if you "get" the truth of the matter. You'll become addicted to the show, to the warmth behind the false fronts people use and the frailty we all have in the end. If you're lucky you'll find like minded souls who can boost you up because they too know the value of GIVING support over working hard to get it. I know I have found countless numbers of those folks. Some of them are right here on this message board.

Thanks to all for the well wishes and for actually READING all the way to the end. Being understood is the greatest gift you can receive in life, especially when it is connected to your birthday!

Learn, succeed, thrive. We're All In This Together! (Wow has everyone else jumped on the phrase I have used for a third of a century!) Just Plain Folks!

Brian


Brian Austin Whitney
Founder
Just Plain Folks
jpfolkspro@gmail.com
Skype: Brian Austin Whitney
Facebook: www.facebook.com/justplainfolks

"Don't sit around and wait for success to come to you... it doesn't know the way." -Brian Austin Whitney

"It's easier to be the bigger man when you actually are..."

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