Hard work and dedication
It’s not the same thing to everyone. For example, farmers need a lot of physically demanding hard work and dedication to grow food. And there are guys who somehow manage to wrestle steel, glass, and concrete into skyscrapers. But it’s not just the guys. There are plenty of women doing amazing work every day. And let’s not forget the nose-to-the-grindstone musicians. (*sound effect: needle scratching across a vinyl record)
“Did he just include musicians in the hard work and dedication group?”
I know it sounds like crazy talk. But musicians who truly want to make a living with their gift and skills, work hard. Maybe not the same physically demanding type of work as other jobs and professions. But it takes a lot of work and sacrifice to be able to sing well and compose and produce music. Stop shaking your head. It does. I know. Because I put in way more than the 10,000 hours they talk about in motivation seminars.
But before you dump musicians into one box, let me share a little bit about the other work I’ve done.
At the tender age of 12 I took on two paper routes in Pasadena, Texas. And I delivered the Houston Chronicle…which was not a small paper. Each day, after school, my papers were delivered to my Dad’s house. And I’d roll ’em up, put ’em in the rack on the back of my bike, and deliver ’em before supper. Plus, the giant Sunday paper had to go out early each Sunday morning.
When I was 13, I was hired to tend to a family’s farm and livestock while they went on vacation for a month. That same summer I learned to drive a tractor equipped with a hay rake. All day long for days. In the hot Kansas summer sun. With no shade, except for the trees at the edge of the field when it was lunch time.
At 14 I started hauling hay for 12 to 18 hours a day…again, in that hot Kansas summer sun. Bucking bales onto the back of a flatbed truck. And then taking them to barns to be stacked inside. Two cents a bale. After two or three summers of that, I spent one more summer laying sod. Sweaty, dirty work.
And in high school I had after-school jobs that included sacking and stocking groceries, baling recyclables at Sears, and even helping fellow students with their homework.
After graduation, I worked at a lumber yard for a couple of years. Loading lumber, driving the lumber trucks and forklift, and carrying large loads of sheetrock, by hand, into new construction homes. But it certainly helped pump me up. Because I was able to even carry a 94 pound bag of cement on each shoulder from the trucks to the site.
“Yeah right, Tony. And what’s this got to do with musicians?”
Wait. I’m gettin’ to that. After almost 5 years in Kansas I returned to Houston because my Dad was diagnosed with “terminal kidney failure.” And I wanted to spend time with him. He lived another 9 years after the diagnosis, so I got to know him better. When I first got there, I got a job as a trim carpenter. It was learn-as-you-go. And I gotta tell you. Hand nailing base, casing, shelving, crown moulding, and more…in the heat and humidity Houston can throw at you…ain’t no picnic.
Each night, after work, my brother and I would work on learning and playing some popular songs. And eventually we started doing auditions around the city. So, carpentry by day. And music auditions in the evenings. We even entered talent shows and gong shows. For some reason those were popular back then.
And we were great. So great, in fact, that in one competition we lost out to a guy who could balance a lawnmower on his chin. And in another show, we lost out to a less-than-manly guy who disco danced on roller skates.
Finally, after tons of auditions, we landed a “sweet gig” in a very popular night spot on the West side of Houston. We were the happy hour duo. So, we got to play steadily for five nights a week. Every week. For a whole year. And from that nice venue, we were able to have other venue owners come see us instead of doing all those auditions. That got us some nice ongoing circuits. And were off to the races after that.
Because of all our hard work and dedication we were able to play music around a lot of America. And then I had some awesome traveling years as a solo performer, too.
And I remember, more than once actually, a guy…typically a drunk guy…telling me (in those colorful ways drunks tell you) that I had it made.
“You don’t know what REAL work is, dude!”
Then I’d get the story of his personal hell. Followed by, “Yeah, must be nice. Work 4 hours a night. Sleep all day. Hang out by the pool. Get all the girls you want. Yeah, you musicians wouldn’t know real work if it bit you in the…”
Or some rant like that.
Well, of course that’s the way it is. Because songs just magically fall into our brains. And we get hired right away since we already know every song that’s worth knowing. No rehearsals, scales, or vocal training required.
You know. Now, that I think about it…I almost feel guilty for having such an easy life.
Grab some Merch
Or how about some music for kids